Humans of UD: Dr. Frank Doe

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Name: Dr. Frank Doe

Hometown: Dover, N.H.

Department: Biology

 

BS: Where are you originally from?

FD: Soon after I was born, my dad’s job moved him to a plant outside of Boston. So I didn’t stay long in New Hampshire, although both my mother’s side and my father’s side lived there. I grew up mainly in a suburb of Boston.

I’m going to retire in May. I don’t know if you knew that, but people ask me, “What are you going to do, Frank,” and I’ve been very non-committal. But my wife said, when I was talking to her [a] few months ago after she had retired and I told her I thought I should hang it up soon, and she said, “great, that way we can go see the autumn colors in fall, in New England and New York.” That was her first thought.

I’ve been here since ’69 — 1969, not 1869. So that was her first thought. But I’ve been non-committal. A few people have suggested a few things or wanted a commitment from me, and I just don’t want to make a commitment. Because I know myself, somewhat, and I can take a part-time job and then very soon, it becomes a full-time job for me. And if I do that, if I tie myself down from eight in the morning to six at night, I might as well not retire! I might as well keep this job. And it’s been a fantastic job. That’s why I’ve stayed so long.

 

BS: What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen throughout your time here?

FD: I’ve seen a lot of changes. Two of the biggest are no more 8 a.m. General Biology classes and no more Lynch [Auditorium]. I’ll never forgive Dr. Stephen Slaughter and Dr. Tom for getting rid of 8 a.m. classes and getting rid of Lynch — just kidding. Those two are very recent ones that have hit home.

Back when I came here in the fall of ’69, the first class I taught was a course in general biology. And the whole class fit in a little classroom over in … upstairs Carpenter. That’s where biology and chemistry were. Both departments with all the labs, in upstairs Carpenter, you can imagine what that looks like. But the general biology class fit in, I don’t know how many seats, but it would be comparable to [those in room] 101 or 114. So it’s grown a lot, in a number of ways.

I’ve always said that … we get the same type of student[s] today as we did back then. You guys listen to different music, and a lot of things in the world have changed, and you guys have changed with it, but what I mean is if I had to compare people from the ’70s with you guys, I would say: are they as cooperative? Check. Responsible? Check. Of course, there’s a lot of progress between freshmen and seniors. That was true then, and it’s true now. Integrity? Check. Honesty? Check. All these very important things, I haven’t seen any great change in you guys. And that’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed. Maybe if I’d gone to another school, a state school or another private school, I would have the same reaction, but I’ve only taught here, so I have nothing to compare them to. And of course with the business, there have been a lot of changes. I think they’ve been good. The business school [and] the business program have increased the number of students and their interests.

 

BS: Who was one of the teachers you’ve been most sad to see leave the University of Dallas?

FD: Sister Clo [Lockett]. You know how she left? She died. I’ll never forgive her for that! She was a School Sister of Notre Dame. They lived on the hill over here, where the school is now. It used to be a convent. The Highlands, some of you guys have taught there. They lived in that building and when the vocations started slipping — not only among the nuns, but priests, religious, all over in the United States — when they were rattling around in a big place, the sisters dispersed. So Sister Clo lived in the community, and there were a few other sisters who lived in that community who worked here as well. I don’t think we have any more. But she sort of died on the job in ’94. July of ’94. I know it was that summer. She didn’t go to graduation, and that was a surefire clue that she wasn’t well, because she never missed a graduation.

 

BS: How did you make your way to UD?

FD: Back in those days, a lot of individuals didn’t do post-docs. Years later, I did sort of one on a leave from here. I went to California for a year after I had been here for a number of years. But I didn’t have a post-doc, and you didn’t need to have one to get a job, but times have changed. Just about everyone has at least one post-doc before they take a tenure track job, even here. But I had just finished graduate school, with a Ph.D. So I asked myself, what kind of a school do you want, Frank? I knew I wanted a small school, and I wanted a small school near a big city, because I wanted to get into genetics. My Ph.D. was in cell biology, but I was more attracted to genetics, so I wanted to be near a big city so I could do a post-doc while I taught, and that’s exactly what happened. So small school, near a big city, where I could do research. And Catholic. That wasn’t a necessity, but it would be a plus.

So, I was in Buffalo, I don’t remember why I was in Buffalo, but I was in the library in Buffalo, N.Y., and … this is really God’s grace in action or something. I picked up the National Catholic Reporter, which is more of a liberal magazine. Certainly around here it would be categorized that way. And I looked at the jobs in the NCR. And there was the University of Dallas. Interesting, a conservative place advertising in a liberal paper, a Catholic paper. But I didn’t dwell on that, I didn’t know anything about the University of Dallas. But there it was, a small school near a big city. Oh, and I wasn’t married so I was looking all over the place. I had gone to school at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. So I said, what do you want, Frank? So I fired off the letter. And that was the beginning.

Why did I want a small school? I graduated and got my Ph.D. from Brandeis, which is a Jewish school, great place. Very, very forward-looking place, they’ve done a great job. But for an undergraduate, I’d gone for a couple of years at Boston College. It was small back then. Then I spent a couple of years at Spring Hill College, which is a school smaller [than] this one in size and temperament. So I really liked the atmosphere in the smaller places. So that’s why I wasn’t targeting schools like Boston University. It just didn’t appeal to me.

 

BS: Do you ever miss the East Coast weather?

FD: No, no. My time at Spring Hill was my first time in the South. I did not miss the snow and the slush and the ice and shoveling snow. I didn’t miss sitting here and looking out and saying, “Oh, what a beautiful snowfall,” because that’ll last for an hour or two, and then you’ve got to go drive a shovel at it, or see it melt. So I really didn’t miss that. And the older I’ve gotten, the less I miss it.

 

BS: Where can you be found at 4 p.m. on a Saturday?

FD: I can tell you where I might be found in a little while, and that’s on the golf course. I don’t golf as much as I used to. One of the reasons, well, golf takes a long time, it’s a real time commitment. And I lost my big golf buddy; he passed away about a year ago. But if Jim were still around, he would be saying, “Frank, get off your butt and get on the course, stop moping around.”

So one of the things you didn’t ask about but has been key to my life is that I was in the Jesuits for 10 years, which is a religious order. It is a long process. Anyway, so I was a seminarian for 10 years, and I’m very grateful, even though I left before I was ordained, I’m very grateful to them. Great friends, great organization. I just found out that it was not something that I wanted to do. But it was no fault of theirs, and no fault of mine. We just do the best we can, from one day to the next, and hopefully, it’s God’s will where we end up. It used to be almost exclusively a teaching order, universities and high schools.

And then around the time that I was in the Jesuits, which was in the ’60s, a tumultuous time, a very interesting time in the U.S. I saw a lot of my Jesuit friends — and I’m not criticizing them for it — but there was this attitude that, why just be pigeon-holed and slotted to teaching religion and math at, say Creighton Prep. They said, “Why can’t we work in parishes? Why do we have to do university or high school work?”

That attitude began to be very prominent among the young Jesuits. They wanted to do more apostolic work than educational work. They wanted to be more involved among the people and in the liturgy, etc. It was a push-and-pull thing. It was a very interesting time. I remember I walked with the NAACP with a few of my friends in a St. Patrick’s Day parade, and I’ll tell you, prejudice and bias is not, or was not, just in the South. I hope we never go back to those days. There were some nasty things said to us as we walked down that road. On St. Patrick’s Day! Of course, a lot of the people hurling insults had had a lot of green beer.

3 COMMENTS

  1. As the 1st recipient of sr clo award, I want to thank you Dr Doe for all the support you gave me along the way…I’m now a pro life, Napro trained Ob/Gyn living in Philadelphia 🙂 Happy to say I can claim UD and our Bio department as my early home 🙂 PS can’t believe they got rid of 8 am bio?!?!?

  2. What a wonderful interview!
    I had Genetics from Dr. Doe as a sophomore in 1977- he is such a wonderful teacher- enthusiastic, warm, helpful. Did I mention enthusiastic?
    With Dr. Doe, Sr. Clo and Mr. Pulich, no wonder I was a Biology major!

    Thanks for sharing!

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