Donald O'Dowd

Graduating class of 1945



At Central, Don lettered in Track and Cross Country, served on the Assembly Committee of the Student Council and on a number of committees including War Activities and War Bond. Following graduation from Central High, Donald O'Dowd joined the Army. After completing two years of military service, he entered Dartmouth College and graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1951. A Fulbright Fellowship to the University of Edinburgh, Scotland followed. He then studied at Harvard University for five years earning first a Master's degree, and then a PhD in Social Psychology. O'Dowd's first professorial appointment was with Wesleyan University where he taught and later became Dean of Freshmen. He then joined the faculty of the new Oakland Campus of the university system of Michigan. He rose rapidly through the administrative ranks and, when Oakland became an independent university of Michigan, O'Dowd was appointed President, a position he held from 1970 through 1979. Two major positions in education followed. The first was that of Executive Vice Chancellor of the State University of New York, 1980 to 1984 and, the second, as President of the University of Alaska System where he remained until 1990. He then retired from university administration, but engaged in professional consulting. He served as Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission from 1991 to 1996. Donald O'Dowd and his wife Jan, also a Fulbright Fellow, live in Santa Barbara, CA. They have four children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.