Leslie Donovan

Leslie is one of the most dedicated college professors I have ever met. She fully embraces the mission of higher education, demanding intellectual curiosity, rigor, technological adaptation, critical thinking, and reflection of all her students. She goes above and beyond most professors by taking the time and energy to get to know her students personally throughout the semester. She always makes a deep, meaningful impact on students’ lives as well as their education.

Leslie is a Tolkien scholar, and so I hope that you will permit me to make one, quick reference: she is like a hobbit—physically small but sharp-witted and immensely brave. Due to early onset arthritis, Leslie has been in a wheelchair her whole life. When I began going to conferences with her in 2004, I began to really witness the numerous challenges that she contends with every day. Realizing what these struggles entail—from getting locked in an elevator at work (for several hours) to outfitting a van with special equipment—only made her accomplishments in her teaching and research more tremendous.

Leslie has taught in the UNM Honors College since 1995, and during that time, she has made an incredible impact on the lives of thousands of students. Nearly everyone who has had Leslie as a professor and mentor has mentioned the same qualities her teaching style—they each say that her ability to trust students with learning is invaluable. One student recently told me that “Rather than lecturing in a traditional manner, [Leslie] allows students the chance to make mistakes, learn from those mistakes, and grow spectacularly in academic and professional worlds.” Another said that Leslie demonstrates a “kindness that is important in this high-paced, impersonal world. She is honest and caring, and is there for her students no matter what. She is an inspiration and a hero of mine.”

Leslie embodies an incredible dedication to both students and the community. She is passionate, genuine, courageous, and fully deserving of being honored as a matriarch in our community.