An Interview with Dr. Durney

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Dr. Durney is one of STAC’s most loved and dedicated faculty members. From his beginnings in admissions to his celebrated role as college provost, Dr. Durney as been both professor and mentor to many students. He currently teaches communication arts courses. Continue reading to find out more!

Thoma Staff: When did you start working at STAC, and what is the best part about your job?

Dr. Durney: I started at STAC in 1973! I was originally hired as Assistant Director of Admissions, working with Andrea Kraeft. I loved working with students, and in 1975, I started to teach Freshmen. That was really invigorating, and I’ve loved working with students ever since!


Thoma: What were your favorite and least favorite classes in college?

Dr. D: My favorite class in college was Shakespeare (primarily because of my professor, Harry Blair); my least favorite was Medieval Philosophy (Sorry, Dr. Trawick!).


Thoma: What is your favorite college memory?

Dr. D: I have many fond memories, but probably my favorite was meeting my life-partner, Julie, at a neighboring college, at a Turtles concert! After that, it was putting the weekly student newspaper (The Quadrangle) out on the night that it was rumored that Paul McCartney was dead (1969).


Thoma: What was your first job?

Dr. D: Technically, my first paid job was as a Resident Assistant at Manhattan College. I STILL have that on my CV! Beyond college, I started work as an Assistant Director of Admissions for St. Francis College in Maine (now University of New England).


Thoma: Which app do you find yourself using most often?

Dr. D: I play Words With Friends with many “friends,” but I probably use a dozen or so news apps with some frequency, since I’m basically a news junkie! My sons have also taught me how to use Netflix to catch up on some old series, and I love music of all types, so I’m forever using my iTunes app.


Thoma: Say you just sold your tech startup for 10 million dollars! What’s the first thing you do with the money? 

Dr. D: $10 million doesn’t go as far as it used to, but I probably would offer any support to my extended family, buy a small boat so I can fish for stripers off Cape Cod, invest in a couple of pieces of original art, and help several of my favorite charities.


Thoma: Out of all the classes you teach, which one is your favorite?

Dr. D: I love teaching Media Law & Ethics, because the media legal landscape changes every day (take a look at Hulk Hogan v Gawker!). Many Obama fans (including yours truly) are dismayed by the fact that this administration has been less “transparent” and “open” than any other in recent memory, and the struggle for free and unfettered expression continues into modern day! Just ask Donald Trump, who wants to do away with the First Amendment, because of all the “negative” media out there!?


Thoma: If someone made a movie about your life, which actor would you pick to play you?

Dr. D: I would have loved to have been an investigative journalist, and while there have been only a rare a few good movies about journalism, Michael Keaton was excellent in “Spotlight,” this year’s Best Picture Academy Award recipient! If he were available…


Thoma: Do you have any hobbies that people don’t know about?

Dr. D: Dr. Keppler and Dr. Papavlassopolus would know this, but I love to play table tennis, or ping pong! And some folks might know that I love classic rock & roll music and actually went to Woodstock in 1969!


Thoma: Do you have any current movie, TV, or music obsessions you want to mention?

Dr. D: Obsession’s a strong word…I enjoy a good film (from Casablanca to Spotlight…and all the Bonds in between!), watch little TV other than sports, and grew up with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, who still get me pumped up on road trips!


Thoma: If you were a candy, what candy would you be? 

Dr. D: One of my favorite candies is Mr. Goodbar (as our Registrar’s Office knows well!), but I’m not sure I would want to actually be any candy bar…


Thoma: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Dr. D: Actually there are probably three – 1) Be true to yourself;  2) my father always used to say “De gustibus non est disputandem” (There’s no accounting for taste!); and  3) another Provost once told me that the most important skill any chief academic officer could have was the ability to listen! So, focus on your own strengths and be honest about your weaknesses; maintain an appreciation for the wide diversity of opinions (and “tastes”) that exist in our worlds; and respect and hear carefully what other people have to say.


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