Dorothy Durkin and the Belief in Education
Last night my wife and I had the opportunity to attend the memorial service for our friend and colleague Dorothy Durkin. The memorial was held on the beautiful NYU campus. While it was a somber event, it was truly a celebration of Dorothy’s life as a daughter, wife, mother, friend and ultimate professional and continuing education leader.
A number of individuals joined her husband and son in sharing memories and thoughts about Dorothy. Four of the six deans with whom Dorothy worked openly admitted that SHE trained them! Co-workers and college and professional friends shared personal insights into Dorothy as a leader, a colleague and a friend.
Rich Novak from Rutgers, who is also a past UPCEA president, represented our association well in his remarks about Dorothy. He shared quotes from colleagues across the world describing her as an icon in our field; a legend in marketing; THE leader in our field; agreat friend and colleague; and the leading pioneer in marketing of professional and continuing education programming. Those of us lucky enough to know and to work with Dorothy can certainly resonate with these comments and share in the sentiment that she was truly bigger than life.
In addition, I learned some things I didn’t know about Dorothy. She was a movie buff, and with her friends she attended and dissected movies on a regular basis. She was known for late night – or early morning – phone messages that were so engaging, people carried on conversations with her recorded voice! In listening to her staff, her impact reached well beyond the office. She was a colleague, but more importantly a friend, to those with whom she worked.
A theme that was mentioned by many last night was Dorothy’s firm belief in the transformational power of education. She championed the importance of expanding access to education, particularly for those who have been traditionally underserved by higher education institutions. It was clear that Dorothy’s love for NYU and New York City had no boundaries, and she enticed people to follow her on the “yellow brick road” to providing educational opportunities to all.
I believe that it is this theme, a belief in transformational power of education, that ties us all back to Dorothy. As I reflect about last night and my thoughts of Dorothy, I am reminded that the success I enjoy as a professional and the success we enjoy as an association is built on the shoulders of the professional and continuing educators who preceded us.
On behalf of our association, many thanks to Dorothy for all you gave to our field, our association, and to us as friends. You will be deeply missed.