UNCG Campus Weekly

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In memoriam: Dr. Russ McDonald

Dr. Russ McDonald, a leading Shakespeare scholar who taught at UNCG for nearly 15 years, died in London earlier this month.

For the past decade, he had been on the faculty of Goldsmiths, University of London, England.

McDonald was on the English Department faculty from 1992 to 2006, teaching classes on poetry, drama and Shakespeare. He said that his overriding teaching goal is “to entice others into the realm of the imagination, to instill in them an enduring taste for the pleasures and rewards of the written word.”

“In all of my courses, from Introduction to Poetry to the Shakespeare Seminar, I seek to make myself unnecessary by transferring to my students both a passion for language and the tools for delighting in it. Ideally, they become their own instructors,” McDonald wrote. Perhaps his best-known book was the widely used “The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare: An Introduction with Documents.”

At UNCG, he received the Board of Governors’ Teaching Award for Excellence; the Carnegie Foundation / CASE North Carolina Professor of the Year Award; and the Dean’s Merit Award of Teaching Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences.

McDonald was a graduate of Duke University and earned his master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to UNCG, he taught at the University of Rochester (New York); the University of Hawaii; and Mississippi State University.

His last appearance at UNCG was 1 1/2 years ago, as he lectured as part of The Globe and the Cosmos series. Professor emeritus Keith Cushman recalls that many of his former colleagues and students were in the audience. “It was just wonderful,” Cushman says. “He had so many friends here, and he loved coming back.”

See more information, including excerpts from tributes, in this News & Record article.