Unexpected passing leaves void in the halls of Stewart and hearts of those who knew and loved him.
When Dakota Ioanis walked into Stewart Hall for the first time before the Fall 2020 semester began — his first year as a grad student and teaching assistant in geography — he expressed his thrill to be here.
Fresh-faced and eager, he smiled as he walked down the halls, looking at the grad offices, geography library and the rest of the facilities. His excitement was infectious; his enthusiasm real; and his fears rational — at least to him, but perhaps not to the professors and department chair who accepted him into the program. They believed in him perhaps more than he did himself.
Mainly Ioanis had anxiety about his age entering Mizzou, nearly 30. He also said he was slightly scared of the “Intro to GIS” class he was taking with Clayton Blodgett, as he was more interested in the political, human, and cultural aspects of geography and didn’t have the technological background he felt needed for the class.
He expressed he had many doubts about returning to graduate school. “It took me nearly seven years to earn my undergraduate degree from Drury (University), which is a time frame many in academia complete their bachelor’s and master’s degrees,” he wrote for an interview the department did on incoming masters students. “Basically, I suppose, if as an ‘old man’ I can produce quality work, and can show effective and fruitful results from my efforts throughout this year, I will consider that a successful school year.”
He did successfully complete the 2020-2021 school year, as hoped. But tragically passed away in his sleep on Thursday, May 20, the week after finals. He is greatly missed among this geography family, as well as others who knew and loved him. A memorial service was held May 29, and despite the two-hour drive each way to Independence, near Buckner where he lived, many faculty and some students were in attendance.