Patricia Donaher, beloved professor, touched many lives

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Dr. Patricia Donaher passed away from her battle with breast cancer on Nov. 4, 2014.
Donaher came to Missouri Western College in 1995 as an adjunct instructor after receiving her Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska.
Over her career, she taught over 20 English courses at Missouri Western and was awarded the Jesse Lee Myers Excellence in Teaching award in 2006.
“Trish was extremely organized,” Dr. Stacia Bensyl, a close friend and colleague of Donaher, said. “She was extremely ambitious. She was a very very hard worker – put in inordinate amounts of work for the university and the department. She was very compassionate with students.”
Dr. Michael Cadden, professor of English and director of childhood studies, agreed that students were incredibly important to Donaher.
“She had a fierce following as a teacher; a lot of people really got attached to her,” Cadden said. “She was somebody who really used advising as a way to get involved with students. She very much liked the one-on-one work with students. She wouldn’t just meet with them to work on classes and things; she was as much a counselor as an advisor to students.”
Advising was an important part of Donaher’s career at Missouri Western. According to the EFLJ blog (, Donaher was quite a popular advisor.
“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,” the blog stated.
But she wasn’t just an excellent teacher. According to her colleagues, she was an amazing person.
“She was very energetic, always in motion and always had a smile,” Dr. Susie Hennessy, professor and department chair of French, said. “Even if she was tired from grading papers all night, she still brought the energy that she did have to whatever she was doing, so I guess that she was a good model in that respect.”
Moreover, she had a desire to improve herself while keeping her students’ education in mind. And, in order to do that, she attended class during her time at Western.
“She also had a desire to continue learning,” Hennessy said. “She took a couple of French classes from me, and I loved having her in class, because she would ask the questions that the students didn’t ask.”
Yet, despite all that she did, Donaher will always be remembered as a professor who loved her students and always looked on the bright side.
“Yes, she was definitely an optimist,” Dr. Hennessy.



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