humor drive Donovan throughout teaching career, life
Donovan, one of three finalists for provost, and his
friends, family and students share his love of teaching
One of the things Nowell Donovan misses most about his
native Scotland is the sea.
He said he has always enjoyed watching the battle between
the ocean and the rocky shore, the struggle for superiority
as the sea laps up against the cliffs of his home island.
I need a Scotland fix every year, said Donovan,
the geology department chairman and one of three candidates
for provost. I get part of that by going with
students, but also my wife Jeanne and I often go off
on a private thing.
Donovan was born Sept. 2, 1943, in Haddington, Scotland,
and raised in Montrose, Scotland. He first came to the
United States in 1975 as a professor at Oklahoma State
University, far from the oceans he loves to watch. In
1986 the geology department offered to make him the
first recipient of the Charles B. Moncrief Endowed Chair,
which he currently holds for the second time.
I came here because TCU offered me a tremendous
job opportunity, Donovan said. The benefit
of being an endowed chair is that you no longer have
to apply for grants to fund your research.
Donovan teaches two to three classes every semester,
despite the fact that being department chairman frees
him from the obligation to teach as many classes as
other professors in the department.
He always takes the heavy load and gets spectacular
teaching scores and comments from students, said
Ken Morgan, associate dean of the College of Science
Donovan said great teaching is basically telling good
stories. Colleagues and students say this shows up in
his lectures and speeches.
He takes something that a lot of people probably
arent interested in and at least makes it entertaining,
senior geology major Andrew Parker said. Hes
always got a good joke or something.
History professor Kathryne McDorman said Donovan has
a highly developed and quirky British sense of
He has been known to recite entire skits from
Monty Python, doing all the parts, McDorman said.
Geology professor Richard Hanson, who was a graduate
student in one of Donovans first classes at OSU,
said Donovan has always had an exciting and inspiring
style of teaching.
Back when I was a graduate student, we all found
him very inspirational because of his approach and the
way he was able to present ideas, he said. His
enthusiasm was very contagious.
Donovan worked at OSU, he met Jeanne, an administrative
assistant in the geology department. She married him
in 1982. Jeanne Donovan said the first time she saw
him she was surprised because it was summer and most
faculty had gone home.
He was funny. Id always been around people
who were serious about everything, she said. And
he seemed to have a breadth of knowledge that was impressive.
Jeanne Donovan said her husband likes to tease her from
time to time.
I took Nowells class one time, along with
another faculty wife, she said. We would
sit at the front of his class and he would embarrass
me by telling jokes about his grandmother. I just wanted
to slide down in my seat and become invisible.
When he has free time, Donovan likes to garden. He said
he usually grows flowers, not vegetables.
a garden of beauty, not a garden of utility, he
Donovan also likes to listen to classical music.
When hes working, he has the classical music
going, sometimes too loud for my ears, Jeanne
Donovan said. Hes always interested in the
history of the composers as well, he knows an awful
lot about them.
Jeanne Donovan said her husbands energy is remarkable.
Nowell, when hes in Scotland, every mountain
thats in front of him he wants to climb. And he
has climbed most of them, she said. Theres
no stopping him. Even when the students are with us,
he wants to beat them to the top.
The Donovans have two daughters. Erin Donovan is a junior
geology major at TCU. Donovan said Erin always wanted
to go to TCU and loved the school since she was little.
Corrie Donovan is a senior at North Crowley High School.
Donovan said Corrie is a singer and is looking at many
Morgan said Donovan is a natural leader.
Dr. Donovan is the kind of person that people
who know him want to do anything to make his goals and
their goals successful, he said. If you
had a football team, hes the person you pick to
wear a C on his sleeve for Captain.