By: BYRON HOSKINSON – News Editor
University of Dayton communication professor Donald Yoder died surrounded by friends and family shortly before midnight on Monday, April 14, according to an email from Director of Advising of the Department of Communication, Heather Parsons.
Yoder began teaching at UD in 1989 and served in a variety of positions during his 25 years, most recently as Basic Course Director for the communications department. He has instructed undergraduate communication courses since 1976, working first at Iowa State University and then Creighton University prior to joining UD as a full-time faculty member in 1989.
Even after a quarter century in the communication department, Yoder was still able to genuinely surprise and excite his students, said Carson Smith, a senior communication major who took Communication Theory with Yoder.
“He even got students excited for coming to class on Friday by coining the term FUFF, for Fired Up for Friday,” said Smith.
Yoder used FUFF in his classes as an instrument of education and personal connection. By presenting a new term and endowing it with a universally understood meaning, Yoder created bonds with his students while vividly demonstrating a theory of communication.
Smith said Yoder used other teaching techniques to personally connect with students.
“He would also tell hilarious stories in CMM 202, which helped me to understand the theories and made class more interesting,” Smith said.
In November 2013, Yoder was honored with the Distinguished Faculty Award in the basic course division by the National Communication Association for his nearly forty years of commitment to his field, according to a Nov. 20, 2013, Flyer News article titled “Comm. professor recognized as ‘exceptional’ role model.”
During his time at UD, Yoder served as department chair twice and published extensive research on interpersonal and organizational communication.
Colleagues say Yoder was particularly fond of the personal and frequent contact he kept with students on what he described as UD’s “intimate, beautiful campus.”
A close colleague in the communication department described him as “an amazing man who affected everyone he came in contact with.” The colleague also said he will be remembered for his quick wit by students and professors alike.
In his personal life, Yoder was a life-long New York Yankees fan and an avid camper and fisherman.
On the morning following his passing, Yoder’s office door was covered with large, blank sheets of paper and a sign encouraging students and faculty to leave fond memories and thoughts of him.
Before the day’s end, the blank space had almost disappeared beneath fond Flyer memories of Yoder.
“He is a UD legend and he will be missed by all,” said Smith.
A memorial service for Yoder was held Wednesday, April 16, in the UD Chapel and was followed by a reception in Kennedy Union.