Last year Provost Nowell Donovan made the bittersweet announcement of his retirement this May. As provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs since 2004, Donovan is the senior member of the Chancellor’s Cabinet, responsible for academic leadership and policy.
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Topics: Chancellor's message
Chancellor Victor J. Boschini, Jr.
Since arriving at Texas Christian University in 1986, Donovan has held the Charles Moncrief Chair of Geology. His wit, dedication and enthusiasm have touched every layer of our campus community. During his tenure, TCU has enjoyed profound academic success — booming enrollment and rankings, a heightened academic profile, and an enhanced focus on student-centered academic excellence.
He chaired Vision in Action: Academy of Tomorrow, TCU’s second strategic planning phase, which led to a transformed campus, including a reimagined Mary Couts Burnett Library and interdisciplinary academic space in Rees-Jones Hall.
But the real legacy left by Donovan is the inspiration and passion for learning he instilled in students. Named Most Charismatic Professor and Most Outstanding Professor numerous times, Donovan had a special connection with students as he continued teaching geology in ways as unique as the rocks he loves.
“There’s always a little bit of sorrow when you go,” Donovan wistfully told the graduates at commencement in December. “And it has been fun.”
Donovan will be deeply missed. But his legacy will live on in traditions and landmarks of his making. Students will continue to gather at Froghenge, where he recited Shakespeare one night while Macbeth’s witches from the Theatre Department frolicked on the lawn.
The ancient Stone of Scone will preside over the whispers in the library. His Genius Loci will provide Horned Frogs the opportunity to experience and be inspired by these magical places around the globe. And thanks to Donovan, TCU has its own purple tartan plaid, designed — of course — by a TCU student.
Provost Nowell Donovan (center) will retire in May. Photo by Glen E. Ellman
“It’s not just about passing the torch; it’s also about lighting the torch,” Donovan is known to say. “We must inspire the spirit.”
While we are saddened to bid warm farewell to Donovan as the provost, I’m excited to report that Teresa Abi-Nader Dahlberg has accepted our offer to become our next provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs.
From March until May, Dr. Dahlberg will have the opportunity to work alongside Donovan as the torch of academic leadership is shared, then passed, signifying the next chapter in our university’s story.
Thanks to my friend Dr. Donovan, it’s a chapter filled with promising opportunities.
Victor J. Boschini, Jr.
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