Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Celebrating Dan Lee: 50 years of dedication

Shadab Ahmed
Daniel E. Lee, celebrates his 50th year at Augustana College with his advisees on Oct. 4.

As a part of Augustana’s 103rd Homecoming, the Phi Rho sorority and religion department had someone special to congratulate. Dan Lee, Marian Taft Cannon professor in the humanities and director at Augustana center for the study of ethics celebrated 50 years at Augustana College. 

The religion department set out a booth in the quad on the Saturday of homecoming weekend for people to congratulate Lee on all of his work at Augustana. 

Lee has worked at Augustana for 50 years as a religion and ethics professor as well as the Phi Rho advisor. Over those years, he has seen Augustana blossom and notes its incredible progression. 

“One of the big changes, and one that I applaud very much, has to do with international students,” Lee said. “When I started teaching here, there were a handful of international students, mostly from Sweden. Now there are substantial numbers of international students… and they come from Nepal, Morocco, Ethiopia, Vietnam, India and many other places. I think that’s absolutely wonderful.” 

Overall, in terms of Augustana’s community, Lee said he feels especially grateful to work with the students at Augustana.  

“It’s just an incredible privilege spending time in the classroom with Augustana students. I love every moment of it,” Lee said. “I enjoy working with students on things outside the classroom as well. The students are who make Augustana College what it is.” 

In his 50 years at Augustana, Lee has also written 11 books (technically 12, but that one is classified). 

Of all his books, he said there is one he is most proud of. 

“Probably the book I wrote that was the most enjoyable work to write is one that I co-authored with my daughter when she was in law school,” Lee said. “We had some intersecting interests on human rights as they pertain to people in other countries and at a time of globalization.”  

The book, “Human Rights and the Ethics of Globalization” published in 2010, was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2011 winner. 

“This book gave us the opportunity to work together as a team,” Lee said. “That’s what’s very special about this particular book, and [it] is probably the one that I prize above all the other books that I’ve written.”

Lee has had only 3 jobs throughout his career. He was in the Navy on active duty, then he worked at a boat factory and finally, here at Augustana. 

Senior Ainsley Rothery, Phi Rho president, had some very kind words about Lee. She enjoys spending time with the Phi Rho advisor and appreciates his friendly personality. 

“It’s so fun to talk to him and just hear what he’s doing and all the fun things that he’s picking up, or his class, his students, just good conversation like that,” Rothery said. 

So did Wolff, a religion professor who teaches the same Christian ethics class as Lee. They said Lee’s commitment to Augustana shows he has incredible loyalty. 

“I think [in] younger generations, how many of us are gonna work one job for that long?” Wolff said. “I feel like it’s this amazing accomplishment that we may never see, the era might end.” 

Lee is highly involved in the Phi Rho sorority as their advisor. According to Rothery, he goes above and beyond in his role, especially for homecoming events. 

“Seven or eight years ago, he worked on building a boat with Phi Rho for the boat race and we’ve used it every single year [and] won every time except for one time when something weird happened,” Rothery said. “Last year was the first year that [it] ended up breaking, but it lasted for seven years and won every single year.” 

Lee’s work in each of his fields has impacted this campus greatly, Wolff said. 

“I feel like the way he has touched students across campus has not just been in the religion department,” Wolff said. “It’s been through, you know, advising the Phi Rhos, through taking students off campus, and he’s just done a lot for a great variety of people.”

In terms of the Phi Rhos, Lee always makes time for them.

“Lee is really good at advocating for us and talking really positively about us,” Rothery said. 

Lee has a special connection with the Phi Rhos and values his interactions with them.

“I told [the Phi Rhos] that I can’t retire until they give me permission, and they say they’re not giving me permission to retire,” Lee said. “So I guess I’ll be here for a while, which is fine by me.”

Lee’s colleagues adore his warmth and kindness. His welcoming demeanor makes him approachable and 

“He’s always very warm and friendly, wants to chat, wants to have lunch with people, meet face to face and sit down in his office, you know,” Wolff said. “He just brings a lot of personality and warmth and somehow also writes 11 books.” 

Both Rothery and Wolff said his integrity is obvious in his actions, dedication and as mentioned, he goes above and beyond in his work as an advisor, but this trait carries through everything Lee does. 

“He does things as well that are really philanthropic and like you’ll contribute money to students to help them go on trips,” Wolff said. “I think he doesn’t just teach ethics, I think he lives an ethical lifestyle, and part of that is being quiet about it. ” 

Wolff said that Lee has not found a simple nine to five job, he has found something more.

“He doesn’t want to leave, he has no desire to retire,” Wolff said. “This isn’t a job that he clocks in and clocks out. This is his life.”

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