Professor Douglas Washburn

Professor Washburn was a professor of language and literature when I attended RPI back in the late '50s. He instituted a two-semester pilot course known as "Directions in the Contemporary Arts," which explored common trends in various art media. I remember listening to early stereo broadcasts with WRPI carrying one channel and another station the other. It took two radios set up to do it! Professor Washburn expertly narrated these programs, which we then discussed in class. He helped us budding scientists and engineers to fathom the depths of James Joyce's Ulysses. He exercised exquisite patience in answering questions from not always supportive students, although most class discussions were lively. I also remember him narrating Christmas programs in the Field House with his distinct booming voice. He was at the same time erudite and informal, with an infectious laugh and ever-present pipe. He took a personal interest in his studentsI remember having stimulating discussions outside of class, and he willingly loaned books from his personal library. In short, he filled a humanitarian void in an otherwise less-than-humanitarian curriculum, and made us better, more well-rounded, more truly educated human beings. I remember him fondly.

— David W. Messer '60
  Royersford, Pa.


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