The Unity College community mourns the loss of Dr. E. Donaldson “Don” Koons, a former President and Trustee.
Upon learning of his passing on Monday, April 9 at the age of 94, many within the extended College community reflected upon the strength, wisdom, and warmth of Dr. Koons. As both President and Trustee, he possessed the visionary foresight to consider Unity’s strengths applied to a world in need of addressing pressing environmental concerns. He played a role in guiding the College to strengthen its fortunes and weather challenges by focusing on service to the natural world. His positive influence extended to the recruitment of highly qualified faculty, staff, trustees and senior level administrators.
Many credit Dr. Koons with helping to ensure that Unity College featured a strong focus on quality, hands-on instruction that prepared students to flourish in an ever changing world. The overall quality of scholarship at the College also improved through his leadership.
A strong believer in Unity’s potential, Dr. Koons stressed that the College was enhanced, not limited, by its small size and location within Mid-Maine’s inland farming communities.
For a long sweep of the young College’s history from the 70’s into the 90’s, Dr. Koons served as a leader for a full quarter century. The bulk of his formal service to the College was spent as a Trustee.
At the age of 82, Dr. Koons stepped forward to serve as Interim President during a time of administrative challenge for the College. He provided a strong and indispensable measure of stability to lay the foundation for the success of the next permanent President.
In 1971 the Natural Resource Council cited Dr. Koons as “a scientist who has combined teaching with citizenship of high order.” He was an Emeritus Dana Professor of Geology at Colby College and past chairman of Colby College’s Geology Department.
Dr. Koons storied career included being named a Fellow of the Geological Society of America (1948), a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1951), Chairman of the Water & Air Environmental Improvement Commission of the State of Maine (1968-72), and the first Commissioner of Maine’s Department of Conservation.
In 1978, Unity College honored Dr. Koons with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Ecology for his enduring contributions to the environment. In September of 1998, Unity College named its science building, Koons Hall, in honor of Dr. Koons in recognition of his lifelong commitment to the sciences and to the College.
In recent years the issue of global climate change has come to the forefront of the values and focus of Unity College. Under the leadership of Unity College President Mulkey the College is strengthening its focus. Curricular majors and programs across the curriculum will focus on the emerging field of Sustainability Science, which probes interactions between global, social and human systems, the complex mechanisms that lead to the degradation of these systems, and concomitant risks to human well-being. He has made training students for careers in service to the mitigation of global climate change a unifying focus.
In 2011, Unity College was named to the top 30 of the Washington Monthly college rankings, and was one of eighteen U.S. colleges and universities named to The Princeton Review’s 2010 Green Rating Honor Roll.
Unity College is a small private college in rural Maine that provides dedicated, engaged students with a liberal arts education which emphasizes the environment and natural resources. Unity College graduates are prepared to be environmental stewards, effective leaders, and responsible citizens through active learning experiences within a supportive community.