Ethics professor dies of cancer

John Dolan was known for his dedication and creation of programs.

Yelena Kibasova

University philosophy professor John M. Dolan died Sept. 14 after an almost 10-year battle with cancer. He was 68.

Dolan was the co-founder of the Program in Human Rights and Medicine in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health at the University. For the program, he arranged talks by distinguished speakers.

He held the Morse-Amoco Award for Distinguished Contributions to Undergraduate Teaching. He was also a member of the Academy of Distinguished Teachers.

In 1959, Dolan earned his undergraduate degree in mathematics and philosophy at Brooklyn College in New York. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford University in 1969.

John Dolan began teaching at the University in 1971. He taught in many areas, including law, philosophy and medicine. He continued to teach medical ethics classes at the University Law School until his retirement.

He also taught a seminar at the Law School with professor David Bryden. The seminar covered abortion, animal rights, capital punishment and a range of other ethical issues.

“First, he was enormously well-informed about issues concerning human life and had strong opinions about those issues, and that combination made him a very dynamic teacher and a very provocative teacher,” Bryden said.

“And coupled with his obviously fine character made him, I think, very suitable for a teaching role,” Bryden said of Dolan.

Dolan was known for his dedication toward his students. The John M. Dolan Professorship of Philosophy, which provides research funds for a faculty member, was endowed in his honor by Asher Waldfogel, one of Dolan’s students.

Dolan’s wife, Rosemarie, said, “(Dolan) was very devoted to teaching … he really enjoyed the successes of his students and gave them so much support and encouragement.”

Outside of school, Dolan loved to take walks around Lake of the Isles. His wife recalled students stopping them on their walks and chatting about past courses they took with Dolan.

Dolan also took the position of Headmaster of Kenwood Academy, the home school he created with his wife for two of their children.

In “An Approach to Teaching,” his statement for the Academy of Distinguished Teachers, Dolan quoted Aristotle.

“Those who work with pleasure always work with more discernment and greater accuracy,” Aristotle once said.

Rosemarie Dolan said, ” Ö that captures a lot about his approach to teaching.”

John M. Dolan is survived by his wife, Rosemarie, children Sean, Elizabeth and Emily, and four grandchildren.

A memorial Mass has been scheduled for 11 a.m. Oct. 8 at Holy Family Catholic Church in St. Louis Park.