A Tribute to Pat Donohue

You can tell a lot about a guy by playing basketball with him. It was many years ago, but I really met Pat Donohue on a hoops court. He was fearless.

With his small, 5’7” frame, he would take it right at the big guys underneath. He wasn’t just courageous – he was also talented. From the first game, I wanted him on my team!

Pat brought those attributes to everything he did. He jumped in the mix, took risks, and didn’t back down, even when he lacked the “size” of his competitors. Lucky for us, his teammates, Pat took good care of us.  He was always there for the team, and positive. 

The day Pat died, he and I discussed the positive gains of the past 9 years.  For a few months, we’d been exploring, with others, ways to bring his campus-community lessons to a larger regional scale. This time, we’d do it from a more community-grounded perspective.

But we also discussed hard stuff – why institutions resist change, and how painful and lonely it can be when you put yourself out there, trying to make change happen.

I remain haunted by that discussion, wondering what more could have been done.  I will be forever grateful though, that my very last words with him were about an op-ed we would write, sharing with the public the extraordinary accomplishments of his past 9 years.  His work fundamentally altered the ways we think about how colleges and communities can mutually benefit from each other.  

Of course Pat wants us to forge ahead, and we will.  But how I miss my teammate.  

~ Marty