Honoring Courage with Generosity

Scholarship celebrates beloved professor’s life

By Carl Luty  |  Professional photograph by Bob Stockfield/personal photos courtesy of Ron Berger

The year was 2000, and the experts—neurologists, neurosurgeons, physical therapists—all concurred: Doris Van Doren, Ph.D., an 18-year veteran of the Sellinger School of Business and Management, the university’s Teacher of the Year in 1989, might never walk again. She might never talk again. And most certainly, she would never teach again.

The brain aneurysm she had suffered had done too much damage, much of it irreversible.

The experts underestimated Doris Van Doren. They underestimated her resiliency and courage. Above all else, they underestimated her passion for teaching.

“Doris was drawn to Loyola,” said her husband, Ron Berger, an optometrist,
“by the love of the Jesuit mission, by the ideal of educating the whole person. She was born to teach. It was in her DNA.”

Dr. Berger also noted her conviction that instruction in her specialty—marketing—demanded an intense focus on ethics: “She wanted her students to be less money-oriented and more community-oriented,” he said. “She wanted them to embrace the responsibility to give back.”

Van Doren incorporated these ideals into every course she taught. She drove them home during regular lunches with students and during office hours held with a frequency unmatched by even her most dedicated colleagues.

“Doris thought of teaching as a 24/7 job. It drove me crazy,” Dr. Berger added with a laugh. “She gave every student our home telephone number and told them to feel free to call at any time. Sometimes I felt like her receptionist.”

This was the spirit that Van Doren brought to her faculty responsibilities. And this was, the experts agreed, what her aneurysm brought to an end.

They were wrong.

In 2003, Van Doren, who brought to her cognitive and physical therapy the same fierce determination she brought to teaching, turned to her husband and announced, “I’m going back to work. I need to teach again.”

Van Doren defied the medical odds. One step at a time, she learned to walk again. One word at a time, she learned to speak again. She recovered so that she could help students through the gift of teaching.

Doris Van Doren passed away on March 6, 2009, but her spirit, her dedication, and her commitment to learning live on in the Doris Van Doren Fund for Achievement, a scholarship endowment for Sellinger School graduate students that Dr. Berger helped create.

One of Van Doren’s colleagues, Ernest Cooke, Ph.D., professor of marketing, made the first contribution to the $50,000 endowment, but other commitments soon started coming in from former colleagues, former students, and corporate executives who had so often turned to her for guidance.

To support the Doris Van Doren Fund for Achievement contact Chris Haley, director of development for the Sellinger School, at 410-617-5123 or cjhaley@loyola.edu. Dr. Berger intends to match, dollar-for-dollar, all contributions from Loyola students, former students, and faculty members.

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