Annual Report

The Healthcare Champions

Don  and Joan Parlee (’55/’57)


If anyone understands the need to develop the next generation of students, it is the Parlees. Don has been a trustee since 1983, and Joan is a longtime advocate for health care in her community. They benefited from faculty mentoring of Professor Paul Wagner ’32, former chair of the biology department, and their friendship with him.

One of their proudest moments was seeing the graduations of two next generation students – their grandchildren, Rikki Kathryn Eble ’14, who went on to receive her master’s degree from Columbia University and works in higher education, and William Bradley Eble ’16, a biology and business major. As a trustee, Don got to hand them their diplomas.

Rikki, William, and the Parlees four children and seven other grandchildren have witnessed Don and Joan’s commitment to service. Don was a biology major who served in the U.S. Army as a radiologist for two years and was awarded a Bronze Star for his Vietnam tenure. He guided the growth of the radiology group at Doylestown (Pa.) Hospital from one to 20 members, served as chair of the department for 25 years and established a School of Radiologic Technology. As an avid bird watcher, he is interested in environmental issues.

Joan, a chemistry major, taught high school science and then made a career out of volunteerism. Her interest began in the early 1970s on the board of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Bucks County. From singing with the Meistersingers, she segued to a community group, Love Notes, and served as treasurer for the Questers, a historic preservation group. She proudly notes that Doylestown Hospital, where she has been most active, is the only hospital in the country governed by a women’s club. She was recently elected President of the Doylestown Hospital Board of Directors and Chair of the Doylestown Health Foundation Board.

The Parlees have a new interest: the Ursinus center to be officially called the Donald ’55 and Joan ’57 Center for Science and the Common Good, or the Parlee Center for Since and the Common Good.

The center, admits Don, was slightly off his radar, but after meeting with student Fellows of the center, Don and Joan “embraced it.” They appreciate that the center prepares students with the skills of ethical decision-making and distinguishes Ursinus as a place where students cross academic boundaries to create a culture of interdisciplinary inquiry. It knits the traditional strength in sciences with the interdisciplinary nature of a liberal arts education.

”With all the great achievements in science in my own lifetime, which have had an influence on the world, there have been so many effects on contemporary living,” Don says. “There should be a great deal of thought on using science for the good of mankind.”

The Center was founded four years ago with a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and now it will become a part of the college’s future.

The center may be a new interest but it is built from a foundation of many years of dedication. “We believed in Ursinus from the very beginning,” said Don. Ursinus was there when Joan and I were developing. We went in as kids and came out as adults. We stood on its shoulders, and we hope future generations will stand on our shoulders.”

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