Thursday, November 6, 2014

In Memoriam: Dr. Trish Donaher


Dr. Patricia Donaher, Professor of English, passed away on November 4, 2014 after a two-year struggle with cancer.
Dr. Donaher began her work at Missouri Western State College in 1995 as an adjunct instructor following her completion of the PhD in English at the University of Nebraska. After a year she secured a position as Lecturer. In 2001, Dr. Donaher was hired as an assistant professor of English and was promoted to Associate Professor and then Professor. She achieved that highest academic rank on the strength of her teaching, service, and scholarship, all of which were admired by her colleagues in the department, especially her teaching and advising. Dr. Donaher was a sought-after adviser, famous for her interest and support in her advisees’ academic and personal lives. Her office was rarely empty. In her time at Western, Dr. Donaher taught linguistics, composition, literature (including highly popular courses in popular literature and Harry Potter). All told, she taught over twenty different courses while at Western. She was a pioneer in online teaching at Western.


In recognition of her fine work in the department, Dr. Donaher was awarded the Jesse Lee Myers Excellence in Teaching award in 2006, was given sabbatical leave to work on her research (which included her 2010 book, Barbarians at the Gate: Studies in Language Attitudes), and was a certified teacher consultant for the National Writing Project. She was devoted to the Popular Culture Association in which she was area chair for language attitudes and popular linguistics. She often took her students to the annual Popular Culture Association meetings to present their work done in her courses.
Dr. Donaher will be remembered for her boundless energy and enthusiasm and positive disposition. It characterized her interactions at MWSU and never flagged, even during her illness. Her optimism and determination remain an inspiration.
At the Popular Culture Association with students


Ken Rosenauer said...

Trish gone. It's next to impossible for me to wrap my head around that. Of course, we all knew it was coming. That doesn't make it easier to accept the reality of it.

I had the pleasure of working with Trish -- as her colleague and her chair. I cannot recall an occasion when I didn't enjoy her visits to my office. Or mine to hers. Not that we always agreed, but she had a way of disagreeing pleasantly, if need be.

I'm better for having known her. Her students are better for having been taught by her. Maybe it's cliched, but in that, she lives on.

Blake Thorne said...

Dr. Donaher taught me so much. It was in her classes that I learned about the complexity of diagramming sentences, the rich history of of the English language, and that I could no longer get away with "just skimming" reading assignments. She showed me that it is important to have high expectations for students, but it is just as important to be understanding and caring. She taught me about the structure of paragraphs and essays. In fact, the outlines she gave my class are the exact ones I now give to my students. She freed me of my judgmental attitudes about other people's language and showed me how the complicated world of philosophy and literature intersect.

I've heard that the thing students will remember more than anything about your class is how they felt when they were in it. When I think back to Dr. Donaher's classes, I remember images like laughing at a funny remark from a student, the stress-relieving potlucks we would have after handing in our final papers, and, more than anything, the overall sense of positivity she created in the classroom. She was an outstanding person and professor. I am so thankful to have been one of her students.

John Seever said...

I cannot believe that Dr. Donaher has left us. She was an amazing teacher and friend who was always willing to help her students if they needed it.

I remember taking ENG232 with her and the fun activities we did, and I enjoyed the origin of a word paper and assignment. Learning where words came from and when they first appeared.

She will be missed, and she is now in A place where she can watch us and help us till we see her again.

Levi Smock said...

From the moment I stepped foot on the MWSU campus until the day I graduated Dr D was a mentor, family member, teacher, advisor and confidant to me.

I can't state enough how much her guidance meant to me. I told Trish that I wanted to write films and go to an elite tim school. For four years she worked with me on an almost daily basis, planing and plotting on how I would accomplish my goals. She got me involved in the PCA/ACA, taught me how to build my resume and navigated the path with me as if it was a dream of her own. It is only because of her diligence that I am able to say that I have accomplished what I set out to do.

My experience with Trish is in no way unique as I know that Casey Nichols, Kyla Ward, Rachel Stancliff and countless others shared similar relationships. Dr. D was passionate about her students in a way that sticks with those who had met her.

She was whip smart. Not only did she challenge her students and peers to see through new paradigms, she allowed them to challenge her. Anyone who ever spent any real time with her was better for it. Is there a greater quality that you can have as a human being?