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July 30, 2015

Students Become Retiring Oceanography Professor's Legacy

August 23, 2011
Dr. Donald Lovejoy
Dr. Donald Lovejoy

This fall, for the first time in 32 years, Palm Beach Atlantic University students won’t study oceanography under the guiding hand of Dr. Donald Lovejoy.

Nor will they hear his lectures or take his lab courses in Earth science, geological oceanography or world regional geography.

Dr. Lovejoy, PBA’s longtime associate professor of oceanography, has retired.

He arrived at PBA in 1979 and earned the University’s Professor of the Year award in 1987. Popular with both students and colleagues, he was also a champion of PBA’s oldest tradition: the Great American Bug Race, held each fall during homecoming.

To help get bug racers into the spirit of the occasion, Dr. Lovejoy would dress in outrageous costumes and carry signs advertising fake "roach steroids."

In contrast to that colorful image, he generally is known for his caring and quiet nature, said Professor of Chemistry Dr. Charles Lobdell, who has taught at PBA for 28 years.

"He spent a lot of time with students," Dr. Lobdell said. "He was always giving of himself to help them understand materials."

One of his favorite hangouts was the gym on campus, where he often chatted with students outside of class, Dr. Lobdell said. "I think he’s going to have a great legacy in terms of students."

He also was extremely organized in his approach to teaching, Dr. Lobdell said.

"He always carefully crafted each lecture. He knew everything he was going to do for that particular day. He had it all outlined."

Dr. Lovejoy first came to PBA when the University consisted of only a handful of buildings. The science department was housed in an apartment building where the Greene Complex is now, and Dr. Lovejoy was one of only four science professors.

His rock room — the classroom where he kept his rock specimens — was a gathering spot where the science faculty would have lunch, the professors recalled.

A newspaper reporter interviews Dr. Donald Lovejoy during the Great American Bug Race in 2009.
A newspaper reporter interviews Dr. Donald Lovejoy during the Great American Bug Race in 2009.
A quiet, introspective person, Dr. Lovejoy was always available to his colleagues, said Professor of Biology Dr. Gary Goss, who has taught at PBA since 1976. "He’s a very humble person. He’s a good listener," Dr. Goss said.

In fact, Dr. Lovejoy’s listening abilities have helped him become a better scientist because he waits to form an opinion until after he has heard all of the evidence, Dr. Goss said.

Dr. Lovejoy also believed in taking his students out of the classroom and on field trips, including nature walks on campus.

One of alumna Lisa Johnson McCumber’s fondest memories is of a canoeing trip at Jonathan Dickinson State Park. He also took students on a more extensive field trip to the Bahamas, she said. "He taught us about the tide, tidepools, fish and currents," said McCumber, who graduated in 1988 with a degree in elementary education.

McCumber, now an elementary teacher in Cadillac, Mich., also remembers how Dr. Lovejoy would always make himself available to students in his office in the old science building.

"On the weekend, he would be there and he always had an open-door policy. Many times he could be found chatting with a student in his light-filled office," she said.

Before he came to PBA, Dr. Lovejoy held both teaching and administrative positions. He taught at the Los Angeles campus of the University of California; at Rollins College, where he chaired the Geology Department; and at Bentley College in Massachusetts.

He has also served as assistant dean of adult education at Northeastern University in Boston, as dean of faculty at Massachusetts Bay Community College and as academic vice president of Nasson College in Maine.

In addition to belonging to numerous professional societies and writing many scientific articles, he also has served as council member of the Florida Academy of Sciences and chairperson of the trustees of The Florida Endowment for the Sciences.

Dr. Lovejoy holds degrees from Harvard University and Columbia University.


08/2011General News


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