Professor Fagan taught not just in terms of curricular goals and outcomes, but in terms of how to live life to the fullest, leading by his own example. His love of family, baseball, hiking, travel, and especially DWC and its students — even if they were not in his class — and his strength and courage through bouts of serious illness, serve as a model for all of us; he was admired and loved by his current and former students, as well as current and former faculty, staff and administrators. They cared for and appreciated Don Fagan for his warmth, his humor, and his ability to touch so many so easily.
Don loved teaching and truly enjoyed coming in each day. He enjoyed the company of everyone he worked with, and we don't know of anyone who did not like and enjoy him. He made students, faculty and staff feel welcome, and he understood how to make people feel special.
For Donald D. Fagan, 67, a native of Lowell, Mass., life growing up, like for so many of his age, was not as easy in many ways as it is for young people today. His passion for baseball and other sports arose from his youth. He boxed in the amateur boxing Golden Gloves (Silver Mittens) and often told stories of growing up in the mill city.
Professor Fagan earned a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Northeastern University and an MBA from Rivier College. Prior to coming to the DWC family in 1975, he taught at Middlesex Community College, Bedford, Mass., Rivier College, and Franklin Pierce College, Concord, N.H. Don also taught in the public schools at the junior high and high school levels for several years, an experience for those students one can only imagine! Prior to coming to DWC family in 1975, he had taught at the junior high level. He taught at Middlesex, etc. while he was at Daniel Webster and was still teaching at Middlesex until two weeks ago.
Going back even further, before entering the education field, Don was a managerial executive for Burger King, and had worked for Dunkin' Donuts — where he first met Nashua police officer Bob Ravenelle, when Bob came in for his daily donut and coffee. Ravenelle, of course, went on to become director of campus safety at Daniel Webster, a post he held for 25 years.
Don Fagan was named "Teacher of Excellence" in 2002, and over the years the Fagan "stamp" has been seen on the revision of the College's business management curriculum and on the updating and rewriting of offerings in Personnel Management, Economics, and other business courses. Don was elected vice president of the Faculty Senate, selected by faculty as a member of the salary negotiating team, chairman of the Scholastic Standing Committee and Disciplinary Board, and in 1982, he was named chair of the Department of Business.
Outside of University Drive, Don was involved in a myriad of activities, among them the Northeastern University Alumni Council, the Greater Lowell Baseball and Softball Umpires Association, the Big Brother/Big Sister Association, and as a volunteer at Heritage Nursing Home for many years. Unknown to many, including this writer, Don was also a flying enthusiast who held a private pilot's license since the 1960s.
AS AN "OFFICE MATE"
Professor Neil Parmenter, Don's officemate (a wall never let that get in the way!), is perhaps his closest friend on campus. "There isn't a morning that goes by when Don, with his coffee and the sports sections of several newspapers and sports magazines, doesn't sit down with me and others to discuss how we can solve the world's problems," said Parmenter.
The notion of an "open door policy" must have started with Professor Fagan: he would never close his office door, partly because he was claustrophobic and partly because he enjoyed the informal interaction with Daniel Webster's faculty, staff, and students.
Don and Neil are so close that Matthew Stewart, the son of Advancement’s Cindy Stewart, bought Professors Parmenter and Fagan the Muppet Show's Statler and Waldorf dolls, those cantankerous, curmudgeonly old men complaining from the balcony of every Muppet's Show, whose famous wise saying is: "We're old! Now leave us alone!"
"Statler" and "Waldorf" co-advised the Daniel Webster's Beta Chapter of the Alpha Chi College National Honor Society since 1995.
A SENSE OF HUMOR THAT COULDN'T BE DUPLICATED
Don's sense of humor was legendary. In fact, some of his humor can't be restated in a story like this that will be read by the public! His wit was quick, and with his affable nature, he could "get away" with jokes no one else could. Even in regard to his retirement party, Professor Fagan was heard to say, "I don't want to have a retirement party — but if you do have one, I want Neil (Parmenter) to be the MC."
THE "NOTORIOUS DUO"
Of course Neil Parmenter has not been at DWC for the past 31 years, like Don Fagan and Social Science and Humanities' Susan Nicosia. Prior to Neil, there was another who shared an office with Professor Fagan and who, with Don, was known as the "notorious duo.” Professor Keith Moon, who taught in DWC's business division from 1982 to 1995, was the other half of the notorious duo. Don and Keith had a history of going on trips to conferences without prior approval and Keith coming to Don's classroom room to see if Don could "come out and play." Which he did! Although his students expected Professor Fagan to return to the classroom at any moment, class was for all intent and purposes over for the day, as the notorious duo were off "to play."
For Keith Moon (as well as so many others), Don was truly more than a friend — he was family. He was there at Moon family gatherings, both good and bad. One of Moon’s most cherished pictures is of Don and Eileen in the family photo at Keith’s daughter's wedding in Washington, D.C. His parents adored him; Don would visit Moon’s parents (even without Keith!) and Keith’s mother would have her special lasagna ready for him, even if he arrived at midnight. Don and Keith’s dad would sit for hours telling jokes and telling stories, and he sent Keith’s mother cards right up until he recently became ill. He had a way of making people feel special.
Don was much more than a friend — he was a lifestyle. His positive attitude towards life is a lesson for us all. “Whenever I was looking for him on campus,” said Moon, “he was easy to locate. All I had to do was wander around until I heard laughter — there would be Don. He had a way to make the world seem bright — even when his world was not.
Keith loved traveling with Don. “We would set out with no particular destination but rather just a ‘general direction,’ as he called it. He used to say that was better since they would never be late.
Moon first met Don when they were teaching at Franklin Pierce. “I walked into a faculty meeting the dean was holding, and there was this guy sitting at the end of the table reading the Boston Globe, holding it in front of his face. The dean asked, ‘Don, could you put the paper down?’ He replied ‘I could’ and continued to read with the paper hiding his face. The dean then said ‘Let me rephrase that, would you put the paper down?’ Don replied, ‘As long as you put it that way, NO!’ The paper never did come down. I knew we would be friends from that moment on.”
“Don was amazing with the students. He taught me that teaching is much more than presenting information in the classroom-it is about caring about people. This is one of the greatest gifts he taught me and many others.”
In a world of imitations, Don was anything but. He was truly unique and most of all loved by all of who were so very blessed to know him.
THE WELL TRAVELED MR. FAGAN
Don enjoyed traveling immensely. He took advantage of travel opportunities afforded by DWC, traveling to Ireland, Yellowstone National Park, Washington, D.C., the Southwest with Professor Steve Cernek’s group, and Hong Kong with Professor Hoshmand’s group. This was in addition to the many trips here and abroad he went on with Eileen, including to Ireland. He not only loved to be immersed in different cultures once he arrived at his destination, he really enjoyed the traveling part, really! — even if it involved an 18-hour ride in an airplane. No matter where he went, Don got to know people and make friends with those who just minutes ago were strangers, a trait many of us would like to have ourselves.
Professor Fagan, for all of his traveling, had only traveled by rail once as a child, until a recent trip by train to Washington, D.C. with his daughter, Diana. Professor Parmenter recalled. "Don had the opportunity to spend time with his daughter and see the sites in Washington with her."
KINDNESS AND GENEROSITY
Professor Fagan's generosity may not be well known because he never made a big deal about what he did. One Daniel Webster senior, for instance, did not have the money to pay for her last semester at school. Don loaned her the thousands of dollars she needed to complete her studies, and she subsequently repaid that loan to the man who enabled her to graduate from college.
A veteran of DWC's notable Hong Kong trip led by division chair Reza Hoshmand, Don made it a practice to give each participating student money that he or she can use toward the cost of the exceptional educational program.
To say sports played an important role in Don and Eileen Fagan's life is an understatement. A life-long Red Sox fan, he attended many, many games during the season and listened to them in his office; he and Eileen and his sister-in-law, Margie even traveled down to Florida two springs to watch Red Sox "Grapefruit League" action. They also traveled to Seattle, Tampa, and Baltimore to see the Red Sox!
Always there for his students, Don was the College's preeminent cheerleader (although it is challenging to imagine him in cheerleader attire), making it a practice to attend all team sporting events. It didn't matter how the team ranked in its division, Don believed faculty and administration's attendance at sporting events sent a positive message to the team and students and it was very important for them to attend.
STUDENTS WERE HIS PRIORITY
Don Fagan seemed to know EVERYONE, even if a student has never been in one of his classes. And because he was so comfortable to speak with, students found it very easy to come to his office to chat about academics, sports, anything and everything. If he suspected a student was having a problem, he went out of his way to speak with that student. He also knew where each student came from and never forgot, even years later. The jaws of prospective students who came to campus annually dropped to the floor when Don went around the room asking names and then telling each student where that student lived and a bit about their hometown, as if he had visited each.
Professor Fagan has touched the lives of thousands of students over the years, and his students never forget him. Many alumni/ae kept in touch with him and made it a point to return to DWC to visit their Professor Fagan. When he traveled during the summer, he often called former students who lived in cities and towns he was passing through. He never lost touch with them and always enjoyed being updated on what was going on in their lives.
DON FAGAN, PROFESSOR
Don's teaching style has been called "lively" and "effective." He was a very practical teacher, teaching students practical things they would use for the rest of their lives. In his economics classes, Don had an interesting story to support every theory he presented. Faculty who sat in on his classes learned not just about economics, but about the art of teaching as well.
Since 1975, Daniel Webster has had a teacher who excelled in teaching and truly enjoyed coming to work each and every day — even when there were no classes in session. He was proud to be a professor and of his relationships with the students and faculty and staff at DWC. When Don was out much of the 2004-2005 academic year due to illness, what brought him the most pride was the very large, oversized get well card that students had signed with personal messages. It was prominently displayed on his hospital room wall for all his health care professionals to see and admire. Don Fagan was then, and continued to be, proud to be "Professor" Fagan.
Most likely, Don Fagan did not realize how much he has influenced students over the years or how much he was looked up to and admired by his colleagues. For 31 years, Professor Fagan did it all at DWC - as teacher, mentor, friend to all - and no one could look back at a more fulfilling career.
Said one student, "If you look up the word 'professor' in the dictionary, there should be a picture of Professor Fagan."
Annette Kurman, Director of Public Relations