Skip to main content

Dorothy Parkander

Professor of English, 1947-1996

Dorothy J. Parkander teaching class.
Dorothy J. Parkander teaching class.

(This series of Notable Faculty profiles was written in celebration Augustana's sesquicentennial in 2009.)

Dorothy J. Parkander is a Chicago native and daughter of a well-respected Lutheran minister, the Rev. Joseph Parkander. She attended Augustana from 1942-1946 and graduated summa cum laude. An active member of the Augustana community, Parkander was a member of Runic Honor Society, the forerunner of Phi Beta Kappa, to which she was subsequently elected and of which she served as president. She was editor of the Rockety-I yearbook, a member of the Writers' Club, orchestra, and involved in volunteering in the community.

After her graduation, Parkander received a master's from the University of Chicago. She returned to Augustana to begin her teaching career in 1947 at the height of the post-World War II influx of students. She was just 21; President Conrad Bergendoff and Professor Henriette Naeseth, Chair of the English Department, had promised her that there would be a teaching position for her at Augustana once she had completed her master's degree.

Parkander was a member of the English department until her retirement in 1996 at the age of 71. In 1962, Parkander received her doctorate with honors from the University of Chicago. She also served as the professor of literature at the Lutheran School of Theology at Augustana from 1963-1964; she was the first woman to hold this position.

In 1983 she was appointed the first holder of the Conrad Bergendoff Chair in the Humanities by President Thomas Tredway. She was named Illinois Professor of the Year by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, a national body, in 1992.

As one former student said, "to attend Augustana sans a Dorothy Parkander course is to eat a meal without an entree or stay only for a play's intermission."

Over the course of her career, Parkander taught more than 40,000 students and still maintains connections with many of them, viewing them as members of what she terms her "family." As a professor, Parkander taught rhetoric, world literature, modern drama, the English novel, and courses on Milton and Chaucer. She taught the first world literature course at Augustana. She is fond of 19th century English novels, especially works by Jane Austen, and considered teaching the 19th-century novel her favorite class.

In 2001 her former students and colleagues established the Dorothy J. Parkander Chair in Literature in her honor. In 2007 the Dorothy Parkander Residence Center opened on campus.

Dr. Dorothy Parkander died Oct. 8, 2018, in Rock Island.

An audio interview of Dorothy Parkander discussing her time at Augustana is available on this page.