Br. Donald Stabrowski, C.S.C. | University of Portland

Br. Donald Stabrowski, C.S.C.

Br. Donald Stabrowski, C.S.C., for sixteen years the University’s academic vice president and then the University’s first provost, also served as a dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and as a professor of political science during his 34-year tenure on The Bluff. But for all his administrative accomplishments—his tenure as chief academic officer is the longest in University history, and he oversaw remarkable growth in faculty numbers, grants, regional and national awards, and national scholarly renown—he will perhaps be missed most by his students, who found him a cheerful, avuncular, and brilliant teacher, and by the University’s alumni, who were regularly treated to his humorous and erudite commentary on American politics. When he left the University in 2012, upon being appointed assistant provincial for the Congregation of Holy Cross in America, the University lost a wonderful teacher as well as a pillar of the University’s stunning progress over the last two decades.

Born in Mishawaka, Indiana, Brother Donald earned his undergraduate degree in history from St. Edward’s University in Texas, and then not one but three master’s degrees (history and education at Indiana University, and government at the University of Notre Dame), before earning his doctoral degree, also in government, from Notre Dame. By the time he was deemed a doctor of philosophy, in 1985, he was already a veteran teacher and administrator: teacher at Cathedral High in Indianapolis (1963-1969), assistant principal at Archbishop Hoban High in Akron (1970), principal at Holy Trinity High in Chicago, and then a teacher at Holy Cross College, Purdue University, and St. Francis College.

In 1988 he came to the University of Portland as an assistant professor in history and politics, and three years later was named dean of arts and sciences; in 1996 he was named academic vice president, and in 2002 he was named the University’s first provost. He also served one semester as the University’s acting president, in 2003, only the second man ever to hold that position, between the presidencies of Father David Tyson, C.S.C., who had been elected Holy Cross provincial, and Father Bill Beauchamp, C.S.C., who took office as president in 2004.

But these facts and numbers, admirable as they prove his academic career to be, do not catch the wonderful width of his interests and scope of his curiosity. A particular scholar of ethnicity and urban politics, he is the author of South Bend Polonia, a book about the political machine that long held sway on the west side of South Bend, Indiana. He is also the author of many essays, articles, and scholarly papers, on subjects as  various as the history of his beloved Holy Cross Brothers, Oregon’s state budgeting process, American trade policy, the history of brick manufacture at the University of Notre Dame in its earliest years, Catholicism in Oregon, and the history of the nuns of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Perhaps the one subject on which he has published neither article nor monograph is that which he loves best of all: gardening. It is a sure bet that no Holy Cross man in the history of the University ever spent more hard hours in his garden, which is blooming gloriously in the campus’s Holy Cross Court even as you read these words, and which Brother Donald will certainly be tending while here to receive his well-deserved doctorate.