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Pillar of Excellence: Donald Reed
Published: December 19, 2017
Donald Reed, Ph.D., is professor emeritus of education at ENC. Ordained in 1952, Reed spent more than 15 years doing mission work in Beirut, Lebanon, and Syria, before returning to his alma mater in 1967 to become a professor of education. He received his master’s in education from the American University of Beirut, and a doctorate in school administration with specialty in curriculum development from Ohio University. Dr. Reed has touched the lives of countless students over the years. He met his wife, Elva (Pettitt) Reed (’50), who passed away in 2006, at Eastern Nazarene College. For decades, the couple opened their home to international students from a variety of other countries, housing as many as six or seven students at any given time. He also served as a pastor when called upon. Today, he continues to touch the lives of international students as he teaches ESL in a classroom at the Wollaston Church of the Nazarene.
Q: How would you describe the impact you’ve had on your students’ lives?
A: My experience here was teaching elementary and secondary education students. My relationships centered around that where I would supervise their student teaching and help them get jobs. I also always felt connected to the religious side of it. I had relationships with students for over 15 years by my work in Syria and Lebanon, and I magnified that by working with the Chinese students. I’ve brought 27 students into my home of different nationalities. Many of them have become ENC students, and they have made contributions to the Christian church. I’ve been privileged to associate with them on that level. They got involved in the starting of churches. They’ve gone into Christian service in many ways. One of them was from Sri Lanka, and she came to my place in a strange way. I had a nurse who was attending ENC stay with us, and she was attending a convention in Chicago at Christmastime. She called me on Sunday when she was supposed to be back to tell me that she would be a day late. Then she said something strange to me, she said, “Rashie will be there.” I turned to my wife and asked her if she invited another student [to stay with us], and she said, “No, I didn’t invite another one. Who’s Rashie?” Just then, there was a knock on the door and there stood Rashie with two suitcases and she said, “I’m supposed to live with you.” We both laughed, and my wife took her upstairs to her room. And she enrolled at ENC and stayed with us for five years. At the end of the five years, she went back to Sri Lanka. I [heard from her recently] and asked her what she was doing. She said she was working the Congo with some very poor people. She had spent four years in the Congo and four years in Chad helping people obtain food and an education. I asked her what she was going to do next, and she said that she was about to leave on a four-year assignment to Afghanistan with the same duties. One after another I can tell you stories about the 27 students [who stayed with us].
Q: Can you tell me about the impact you’ve made on the spiritual lives of your students?
A: I have a student who is Muslim in my ESL class from Casablanca, and he just came back – he had just gone home for a month’s vacation, and before he left he asked if he could have a Bible. I also have a very nice gentleman [who is Muslim] from Burma [now Myanmar] who signed up for my class. He stopped to tell me that he was studying his Bible that I had given him. In my group of 15 in my class last year, I think I had six different religions, including Islam and Buddhist… I had two from Japan and they had become Christians, and they are both medical doctors. They testified for being Christians.
Q: How would describe your teaching method?
A: I teach ESL, but I do it with my own method. I don’t strongly discuss religion. I just get them to discuss religious ideas. My method is one of dialogue. I’ll bring stories from the newspaper with moral connotations and ask, “How do you feel about this?” So I involve them in moral issues. [Our ESL students] are scattered throughout churches in Quincy – some in the Methodist, some in the Lutheran, and on any given Sunday some here, in the Chinese church. The Chinese church is located in the Ruth Cameron Auditorium.
Q: How did ENC prepare you for life after college?
A: I came to ENC when I was 17. I stayed five years. I’m probably one of the only one around who has received a major in literature under Dean [Bertha] Munro. While I was at ENC, I was active in ministries in Boston. My roommate was Bill Taylor and he became DS and we ran everything from street meetings to – I realize my limitations. I am not a genius by far. I am very common. I realize that. But I trust God for his leadership. I waited for my wife to finish her degree. She needed to finish her student teaching, and we went directly from ENC to Drew [when she finished]. Our outstanding leaders went to Drew. Drew was the conservative, Methodist school, and I appreciated it very much. I went to Drew Seminary for three years and pastored a Nazarene Church in Newark, NJ, for two of those years. After three years in Newark, N.J., I got a call from headquarters, and they asked me if I’d come in to an interview and meet the board. I hadn’t even applied officially, but I did feel a call. When I was very young, I felt God’s call. So the board said we want you to go to Beirut. I did not see myself as an educator. They said I’d be in charge of the building and the Nazarene Bible College in Beirut and so I needed a lot of help. I had no experience. My wife was elementary major and had done some teaching, but I had never. The only teaching I had done was a little at Drew. I lived with a professor [Dr. Ralph Felton] who went on trips to the south. He was called the Rural Church Sociologist. He was 75 and had poor health, so we [accompanied] him. He would turn classes over to me. I was always scared to death, but enjoyed them. I’ve always had roots at ENC. My father, who was an evangelist in Ohio, a graduate of Asbury [Theological Seminary], started many, many churches in Ohio and Pennsylvania and was the evangelist here at ENC in 1928. I was born in 1926, the tenth child, so I was two when we were here. My father was a friend of Sam Young and Angell. They started many churches. My father … preached in Canterbury. That’s where the revival was held. My father was an outstanding preacher.
Q: What did you do after you received your Ph.D.?
A: I wanted to go back to Beirut. I cried when I couldn’t go back. Sam Young went to Beirut to decide if I should go back or not. He felt the war was too severe to take five children. Sam Young made the decision to go to ENC for one year. He was my friend. He met me in front of G10 in the hall and talked to me for an hour and said we’ll send you to the Bible College in Argentina if you will go, and I said I would not go, so I’ve been at ENC ever since.