Home Alumni Old school photo: Remembering Rodney Rogers

Old school photo: Remembering Rodney Rogers

Rodney Rogers, biology professor emeritus, interacts with students.

Classroom scenes like this one were common in the 51 years Rodney Rogers taught at Drake. August marks the one-year anniversary since the passing of the beloved former biology professor emeritus and department chair, but Rogers’ legacy is not forgotten.

Dr. William M. Murphy, AS’63, recently helped to establish an endowed a scholarship in Dr. Rogers’ name. He views the gift as not only an opportunity to recognize the impact of his former histology professor but as a way to repay the University for helping him when, as a young scholar, he needed financial support.

“For many years I’ve been giving back what I could in little bits,” Dr. Murphy says. “I never gave less and always increased my contribution each year.” Eventually, Drake’s Office of Alumni & Development pointed out that Dr. Murphy could structure his gifts in a way that would make a truly lasting impact on future Drake students.

Dr. Murphy is among the many successful alumni who have come to recognize how instrumental Drake’s instructors were in preparing them for professional careers.

A Des Moines Roosevelt High School grad and National Merit Scholar, Dr. Murphy sampled religion, psychology, philosophy and chemistry courses before finally choosing to pursue his degree in biology. He graduated from Drake in three years and went on to Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Murphy, who is an internationally recognized expert in urological pathology and an emeritus professor of pathology at the University of Florida in Gainesville, says he will never forget the sometimes “original” teaching methods of his favorite Drake faculty. He remembers how he learned to identify human bones thanks to Professor Fae M. Shawhan, who used to have students close their eyes and feel skeletal pieces, and the way that Dr. Rogers emphasized the histological structure of the tissue pattern by giving students tests without staining the nuclei or cytoplasm of the component cells.

Dr. Murphy hopes other alumni who were encouraged by biology faculty will also be inspired to contribute to the Rogers endowment, which will help future generations of Drake students.

“I wanted to direct my gift to the biology department,” Dr. Murphy says. “I always had a great deal of respect for the people in that department. I got a great education at Drake.”