Celebrating 50 Years With Don Adams

Don Adams with students

For 50 years, Don Adams has been leading and empowering students at Drake, touching the lives of countless Bulldogs.

When Don Adams arrived at Drake in 1969, it was a tumultuous time on college campuses across the nation. The new vice president of student life dove right in, taking a hands-on approach to his leadership.

The student body immediately felt his impact. In 1971, the Drake yearbook, The Quax, raved, "Dr. Adams spends countless hours away from his office, discussing with students their problems and ideas. In a time when many campuses are embroiled in turmoil because of lack of understanding, Donald Adams shines in his work."

Don AdamsFor the next 50 years, students would be inspired and encouraged through his mentorship and guidance.

"The manner in which I live my life today is a direct reflection of the time that he spent investing in my future," says Patti Avery, FA'78, GR'81. "He changed my life, and I am forever grateful for his belief in me."

Don AdamsPatti stayed in touch with Don long after she graduated, as did Joan DeVee Dixon, FA'85, GR'86.

"I'm grateful that my years at Drake coincided with Don's tenure as dean of students," says Joan. "His mentorship, tireless work ethic, and ability to solve problems made a tremendous impact upon my time at Drake and beyond."

Though Don retired in 2007, he remains committed to Drake and the student experience. In 2000, the Donald V. Adams Leadership Institute was founded in his honor to empower students and facilitate opportunities for intentional learning, skill development, and self-reflection.

Don AdamsThe Institute is a perfect tribute to Don's dedication to Drake, says Bill Henderson, LA'82.

"Everything about Don is leadership," says Bill. "He is good at identifying and encouraging campus leaders. Drake has been very blessed to have him for 50 years. No one is more effective with students one-on-one."

To learn more about making a gift to support student engagement and leadership opportunities, please contact John Amato at john.amato@drake.edu or 515-271-2849.