DCS Celebration Honors Donors
Jerry Wood, Doane's Vice President for Institutional Advancement, hears a common theme as he travels across the country meeting with Doane College alumni:
"It's the No. 1 thing I hear as I travel: Doane College changed my life...We recognize that it's your passion to change students' lives," Wood said to the crowd of 150 at the Doane College Society Gala Oct. 7, an event that thanks donors for their exceptional annual support of the college.
"You are here because you want to see this venerable institution progress. To you we owe our thanks," Wood said in the opening of the festive ceremony in the George and Sally Haddix Recreation and Athletic Center.
The event also introduced patrons to Doane's 12th President Dr. Jacque Carter, who shared his vision for Doane's future.
Ken James '69, Chairman of Doane's Board of Trustees, told the crowd how exciting it was last spring to begin with a pool of more than 50 qualified applicants to be Doane's next president.
"We picked the best of the 50," James said.
Carter has been on the job for about 90 days. In his address, he introduced himself as Doane's "newly minted" president and shared the story of how he came to Doane and what he sees in its future.
Carter was the first in his family to complete college. His career as a scientist and academic has taken him all over the world. He grew up in a rural town in northern Illinois, with a backyard of corn and soybeans and the Kankakee River just down the road. He spent endless days along its banks, he said, and grew up in a family whose idea of a big weekend adventure was a camping trip to catch bathtub-sized channel catfish.
He loved fishing so much he applied to Northern Illinois University to study biology, in hopes that he could turn his passion for fishing into a profession.
"College transformed my life. It was at college that I was introduced to the best that has been written, spoken, thought, and performed throughout the ages."
His junior year, he signed up for a study abroad course in Belize, Central America. For $695 plus airfare, he received nine credits and six weeks in Belize, exploring coral reefs and tropical rainforest.
His choices of study in college showed him the value of the liberal arts in education. He found his profession and the passion of his life - his wife, Judy. They met when both worked in the college library. In spite of the fact that he took her to DeKalb's barbwire museum on their first date, he joked, they have been married for more than 33 years.
His graduate research would take him from studying the freshwater fishes of Belize to the deep-sea fishes at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Later, further time in Belize led to the creation of the first coral reef marine reserve in the Caribbean. Back in the states, he joined the faculty at Bucknell University, and then went on to teach marine biology at the University of New England in Maine.
"Over the next two decades, we raised our children strong on a diet of lobster rolls, clam chowder and plenty of snow."
At UNE, he held every faculty and academic administrative job except the Presidency. He wanted to be a president, he said, but at the right college.
"I'm standing here today, because I followed not only my mind, but listened closely to my heart."
Three months into his presidency, he has come to know Doane, both its history and its community. Thomas Doane and founding President David Brainard Perry would swell with pride if they could see Doane now, but where do we go from here? he asked.
Their instincts were as right in 1872 as they are more than 100 years later, he said.
"The college should be a place that prepares young people for the work of life."
Doane seeks to be a model of academic excellence, defined by the opportunities and challenges that students face in the 21st Century. To achieve the goal of becoming a nationally recognized college built on the traditions of the liberal arts, Doane will need to grow, he said.
Many respected national liberal arts colleges in the country have enrollments considerably larger than Doane's, he said, a size that allows them to enrich, improve and sustain the quality of programs.
Doane's growth will be managed and carefully planned, and done in a manner that maintains the quality and culture of students' academic experience, he pledged.
Doane has what it needs to achieve its vision.
"You didn't need me to bring anything in my suitcase from Maine. It's all here."