November 28, 2011

Jeanette Grider

Donald Brennan, Ph.D. – 1945-2011

Donald Brennan, Ph.D., a Saint Louis University alumnus, professor and former dean, passed away Thursday, Nov. 24. He was 66.

Donald Brennan, Ph.D.

Dr. Brennan received his bachelor's and master's degrees in communication disorders from Saint Louis University in 1967 and 1969. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma Medical Center in 1974.

Returning to SLU in 1975, Dr. Brennan joined the faculty as an assistant professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. He became the assistant chairman of the department in 1978 and chair in 1981.

In 1988, Dr. Brennan accepted the position of dean of the Graduate School and Associate Provost for Research. He stepped down from his position as Associate Provost for Research in 2006 and assumed the additional role of dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Brennan served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences until 2010 when he returned to the faculty in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Dr. Brennan served in numerous administrative and leadership roles at hospitals, community clinical facilities and in higher education. He received many honors and awards from professional and community organizations including the Leadership in Education Award.

Dr. Brennan gave numerous national presentations, was noted in many publications and generated more than $5 million in grants and contracts at Saint Louis University. He was instrumental in developing an emphasis in multicultural education and diversity at SLU.

Michael Barber, S.J., dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, shared his thoughts on Dr. Brennan's deep level of commitment to SLU's mission.

"Dr. Don Brennan gave of himself without reserve to bring about the flourishing of Saint Louis University, the Graduate School, and the College of Arts and Sciences," Barber said.

"Among other things, he strongly promoted the Jesuit Catholic mission of the University; supported research in myriad ways; more than doubled the number of graduate assistantships; initiated the Presidential, Diversity, and Dissertation Fellowships; and did all in his power to increase the diversity of the University. He was a friend to whom all of us will be indebted for decades to come."

Not only a dedicated academic and administrator, Dr. Brennan was a great colleague who made an impact on those he worked with.

Carol Murphy, assistant to the Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences, worked with Brennan for more than 20 years.

"The University has lost a special man," Murphy said. "Don gave tirelessly to SLU for many years. "It is a wonderful thing when work and friendship develop together, which it did for so many people with Don. He will be remembered and missed greatly by all the people whose lives he touched. I'm sure God is already enjoying his sense of humor and Irish wit."

Arts and Sciences business manager Cathy Zimmer said Brennan was a mentor and cherished friend.

"I couldn't have worked for a finer person," Zimmer said. "His smile, his integrity, his loyalty touched so many lives. For so many people, Don Brennan was Saint Louis University. I feel this loss both personally and professionally.

Dr. Brennan was a member of the 1964, 1965 and 1966 Billiken soccer teams. The Billikens won the National Championship in 1965 and third place in the NCAA Tournament in 1964. He was co-captain of the 1966 team and was elected to SLU's Athletic Hall of Fame in 1998.

He served in the U.S. Air Force from October 1968 until August 1971 at which time he was honorably discharged at the rank of captain.

Dr. Brennan is survived by his wife Marty, an instructor in the department of communication sciences and disorders; daughters Laura (A&S '95, PH '00, '02) (son-in-law Ben Kloos and granddaughter Madeline Kloos), Erin (Cook '01, Law '08); Kate (E&PS '07) and Emily (A&E '09) and close family friend, Brad Ackman.

Visitation will be held from 4-8 p.m. Monday, Nov. 28, at St. Francis Xavier College Church. A funeral Mass will take place at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29, at the church, followed by a gathering in the church ballroom.

Donations to a graduate student scholarship can be made by contacting Cathy Zimmer at

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