WILLIAM DOAN, PH.D.

Alumni Section

Dr. William Doan, Ph.D. ’82

Bachelor of Theatre and Communication Arts

Dr. William Doan graduated from Gannon University with his Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre and Communication Arts in 1982. While a student, he participated in many activities such as Alpha Psi Omega, WERG and many theatre productions. While he has many experiences and memories from his time at Gannon, his favorite memory would be meeting his wife, Bonnie Lang, during the theatre production of Runaways. Gannon prepared Dr. Doan intellectually, spiritually, and ethically for life after graduation. It was at Gannon that he formed the work and life habits needed to build a successful career and a happy life. In addition to being a proud Gannon alumnus, he also spent eighteen years on the Gannon faculty. Dr. Doan recently shared, “I am grateful to Gannon, all my colleagues, and the many students who made it possible for me to make art, build community, and grow both professionally and personally.”

Bill’s passion for the arts led him to further his education after Gannon. He attended Virginia Commonwealth University and received his Master in Fine Arts and then received his Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University. He has many publications and has been featured in several different venues. He also collaborated with Gannon’s Terry Giles on the publication of several books. Bill served as President of the Association of Theatre in Higher Education, was a keynote speaker for Mt. St. Mary’s University’s undergraduate research and creativity festival in 2016, served as the Co-Principal Investigator on a 2.5 million dollar NSF Grant, Co-Principal Investigator on a 3.5 million dollar NIH grant, gave two curated performances at Dixon Place Theatre NYC (2015, 2016), and was selected for the new play development series with Royal Family Productions NYC, 2017.

Dr. Doan’s extensive career and background in the arts led him to Penn State University where he has been a professor of theatre as well as the former associate dean for research and graduate studies in the College of Arts and Architecture. Bill will begin a three-year term as director of the Penn State School of Theatre on July 1, 2017. In the future Bill hopes to still be making theatre, collaborating with artists, scientists, social scientists, and continue to learn from all the students he is lucky enough to work with.

Bill resides in Howard, PA with his wife of 33 years, Bonnie, also a Gannon alumna. They have one daughter, Samantha, and a son-in-law Mark. Dr. Doan’s sister, Sam, with whom he was very close, passed away in 2014. Many of his recent works are dedicated to her and focus on the personal loss he and his family experienced from the results of a traumatic brain injury.

He and his wife are blessed with many nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews and are lucky enough to have several family members in the area that they enjoy spending time with. In his free time, Bill enjoys drawing, reading, hiking and traveling. He has an abundance of wisdom and knowledge to be passed on to others looking for a life in the arts. A piece of advice that he wants to share is: “Do the work, the real work, the work of cultivating a good heart and a deep sense of compassion.”


(published January 2017)

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