There are a handful of rare individuals who have witnessed and influenced such an extensive and dynamic period in the life of Hastings College as to be considered part of the very institutional fabric from which it is made. Two of those individuals are welcoming a new chapter in their lives this year. Roger Doerr is one of them.
“Because I’m an accountant, I added up the numbers,” Roger laughed, as he thought over his 44 years at Hastings College. “I’ve taught 1,544 students in Beginning Accounting, and I’ve taught that particular course 69 times. … I’ll never catch my good friend Dwayne Strasheim, because he’s always been four years ahead of me.”
Following a memorable phone call from then-Academic Dean Art Langvardt in 1969, Roger accepted a position as Instructor of Business Administration/Economics at Hastings College and, like his good friend, earned a reputation as an inspiring lecturer, advisor and mentor. Roger was twice selected by students to present the Artist Lecture Series Invited Faculty Lecture – in 1975 when he spoke about oil company profits amid the energy crisis, and in 1983 when he addressed management trends. Roger served two terms as President of the Faculty Senate.
In 1989, he was awarded the first Edgar and Frances Reynolds Lectureship in Business and Economics. He was the first professor to receive both the College’s Burlington Northern Foundation Faculty Achievement Award and its Outstanding Advisor Award. In 2009, he received the Distinguished Senior Faculty Award, having returned to the classroom in 2003 after his tenure at the Hastings College Foundation.
“The main love of my life, outside of family, is this institution,” Roger said. “I think we have such a special place in higher education. We work with students that deserve as much attention and skill development as we can give them, and we want to make our existence meaningful to those students and to the families that invest their kids with us.”
Roger has been at Hastings College through seven of its presidents, and he served on the search committee for two of them. In 1972, he recruited a young math professor working at Doane College, Phil Dudley, to teach at Hastings College. He remembers Don Jackson as a Hastings College athletic trainer and would later secure Don’s donation toward the completion of the Osborne Family Sports Complex while serving as Foundation President. Roger recruited Jack Kramer, his former student, to return to Hastings College and teach business administration and economics in 1978. Jack ultimately served as Roger’s boss and chair of the department for nine years before his own retirement in 2012.
“You put four and a half decades into something, and you can see that you’ve left a few footprints around,” Roger said. “It has been a sense of great satisfaction, to know that you can grow with an institution and change with the institution over that period of time. I’m pretty proud of that.”
Among the many former students Roger inspired is Oleg Kalinskiy ’98, who was recently appointed to the rank of Full Professor at one of Russia’s leading engineering schools, Moscow Steel and Alloy Institute. Oleg has been teaching International Economics and Macroeconomics as an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Applied Economics there for the last seven years.
“Professor Doerr has always been and will always be not just one of my favorite professors, but a true leader,” Oleg said. “He taught me how to lead and how to make true friends. Of course, he taught us accounting and management and did it in such an insightful and easy-going manner that, by the time the class was over, we all wanted to take CPA exams and were utterly convinced that we would all pass the exam with flying colors at the first attempt.
“I recall many times when he enlightened people, made them feel special with his ever-present smile and candor … and then people achieved the goal and performed at maximum under his leadership,” Oleg said. “He led in a cooperative manner, always by example, never by authoritarian style. I watched that and learned from him. He always has been and will always be for me the Hastings College Advantage.”
For Roger, the measurement of his success is directly related to the many successes of his students. “In an institution of our size there’s the unusual ability to interact with a student throughout their entire career … so much that, when they’re successful, you do feel like you’re a part of their success,” Roger said. “It’s been a thrill, and I’ve been so privileged to have these folks to work with over the years.”
Beyond his many years at the front of the classroom, Roger served for more than seven years as President of the Hastings College Foundation, from 1996 to 2003, and oversaw $44.9 million in fundraising toward scholarships, the annual fund and numerous capital projects, including the construction of the Osborne Family Sports Complex, Sachtleben Observatory, Barrett Alumni Center, Bronco Village Apartments, Fleharty Educational Center, Batchelder General Services Building and the Wilson Mathematics and Computer Science Center.
“That really gave me the opportunity to find and reconnect with many former students and build so many bridges that I think are so essential to the future of the College,” Roger said of his time as
Foundation President. “These are the people, our alumni, who can ensure the future of Hastings College going forward and who can make a difference for us in terms of the national recognition that I think we deserve.”
For much of his career, Roger has balanced his teaching and fundraising loads with robust service to the community. In addition to serving on numerous community boards and service committees, his other passion was being on stage. After years of acting, directing and assisting with productions, Roger has been inducted into the Hastings Community Theatre Hall of Fame. This fall, following his retirement in May, Roger returned once again to the stage. This time for the Hastings Community Theatre, Roger directed the mystery thriller “Night Watch,” a production in which he first performed more than 20 years ago.
“I’m excited,” Roger said about retirement. “I know my chronological age, but I don’t feel like I’ve slowed down to a great degree. I’ve taught 22 different courses over the years. My life has been 44 years Hastings College, that’s it. So, I have a lot of Charles Dickens to read,” Roger smiled, “and I might play a little golf.”