Academic Spotlight
Faculty Research, Performance and Exhibitions

Trustees Honor Retiring Faculty Members Corish, Mayo

Story posted May 29, 2007

Two Bowdoin faculty members were elected to emeritus status during the May 11-12, 2007, meeting of the Bowdoin College Board of Trustees. Denis J. Corish was elected Professor of Philosophy, Emeritus, and Dana W. Mayo was elected Charles Weston Pickard Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus.

Denis Corish


In his 34 years of teaching at the College, Denis Corish has inspired generations of Bowdoin students, as well as his peers, with an unshakeable commitment to liberal-arts learning and a fascination for the human mind.

Denis earned his B.A. from St. Patrick's College, Mynooth, Ireland, in 1956 and his M.A. from University College in Dublin, in 1957. He taught at several colleges before joining the Bowdoin faculty in 1973, including University College, Dublin; Villanova University; Haverford and Holy Cross Colleges, and Boston University.

His studies on the philosophy of time have been extensive and original. He has presented widely and published in professional journals including Philosophy, The Harvard Review of Philosophy, and Philosophical Studies. Denis recently published two important works on the philosophy of time in the journal Philosophy: "MacTaggart's Argument," published in 2005, and "Time Reconsidered," in 2006.

In addition to his scholarship, Denis is an accomplished poet. His poetry has been published in The Sewanee Review and The New Yorker, among other publications.

Denis is known all over Brunswick simply as, "the walker," for his daily rounds of power-walking. He walks roughly 2,500 miles a year, clocking in at less than 12 minutes per mile.

Denis' love of language is lifelong and without boundary. Early in his Bowdoin career, he took it upon himself to learn Greek. He has tutored students in Gaelic, and most recently taken up Italian studies at the College. For many years, Denis corrected papers by reading his students' papers aloud to them, while adding his commentary. Later, he asked the students to read their works aloud to him. Students have often remarked that their work sounded much more intelligent in Denis' musical Irish cadence.

Following his retirement, Denis plans to spend more time at his country retreat in western Ireland.

Dana Walker Mayo

Dana Mayo

Dana Walker Mayo, Bowdoin's Charles Weston Pickard Professor of Chemistry, inspired hundreds of students to pursue academic and professional careers in chemistry in his 25-plus years of teaching at the College.

Dana is an expert in the field of infrared spectroscopy, helping to establish an annual professional course on the subject at Bowdoin, and was a pioneer in the field of marine oil pollution. He has over 50 publications and two patents to his name.

He earned his bachelor's degree at MIT in 1952, after which he served in the U.S. Air Force. He then returned to his studies, earning his doctorate in organic chemistry at Indiana University in 1959. Prior to joining the Bowdoin faculty in 1962, Dana was a fellow at MIT's School of Advanced Study and a NIH postdoctoral fellow in the MIT chemistry department.

Dana was a leading pioneer in microscale organic chemistry, an innovative teaching technique that has revolutionized high school and college laboratory instruction around the world. It allows students to conduct a wide range of experiments in organic chemistry- all reduced in size 100 to 1,000 times. In 1985, he published the first textbook devoted to microscale, which he painstakingly developed with Bowdoin Chemistry Professor Emeritus Sam Butcher and a colleague collaborator from Merrimack College, Prof. Ronald Pike.

In 1988, the American Chemical Society presented Dana with an award for Outstanding Achievements in Teaching Chemistry. Dana and Sam Butcher also were among the first to receive the Charles A. Dana Foundation Awards in recognition of their achievement in microscale chemistry.

Dana and Sam were awarded the Bowdoin Prize in 1990 for outstanding contributions in their professional fields. It was the first time the prize was given to faculty members who were not also Bowdoin alumni.

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