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In memoriam: Don Morlan

Donald "Don" Morlan, professor emeritus of communication and former communication department chair, died Sept. 19. He was 81. 

Don was a professor in the Department of Communication from 1977-2002, and served as chair from 1977-93. His research interests were vast, covering topics ranging from World War II propaganda to the Three Stooges. He was a published historian on both areas, and enjoyed many years of traveling and speaking at conferences as an expert on the subject. 

Professor of Communication Tom Skill came to UD in 1984 when Don hired him to join the communication faculty. Skill succeeded Don as chair in 1993, and credits him for his mentorship and leadership. 

“I was one of several new young faculty members Don hired into the Department of Communication in the mid-1980s,” said Skill, who also serves as associate provost and UD chief information officer. “Most of us were newly-minted Ph.Ds who had very little experience as teachers, scholars and researchers.

"Don created an environment where we could truly thrive - he coached us on how best to balance our teaching, advising and research responsibilities and always found creative ways to help us build academic friendships across campus.” 

Those creative ways included recruiting new faculty to join the faculty bowling league, which Skill said was an excellent way to meet others across the University at the time. 

“He truly modeled UD's Marianist values of community building through authentic relationships,” Skill said. “He used his wonderful sense of humor to put everyone he encountered at ease. He was a beloved teacher, a productive scholar and a gifted administrator. He was also a very talented fisherman, but his wife Sue always out fished him, which he celebrated!”   

Before coming to UD, Don's academic career included coaching and teaching at the high school level, and teaching and gaining tenure at Eastern Illinois University. He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Indiana State University and a doctorate from Purdue University. 

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