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Alum shares lifelong love of athletics at Dal through gift to Oulton-Stanish Centre

A headshot of a man wearing a blue suit and purple dress shirt standing in front of a window Doran Donovan (BComm'90, MBA'94)

Posted: January 25, 2024

By: Jodi Reid

When Doran Donovan (BComm’90, MBA’94) decided it was time to up his giving game, he knew the Oulton-Stanish Centre was the perfect choice. He hopes his gift will help students and community members alike find the same joy he discovered through sports and volunteering at Dal.

Doran Donovan (BComm’90, MBA’94) may be quick to downplay his athletic prowess and hesitates to call himself an “athlete.” But it’s undeniable that sports have been a huge part of his life—from playing games for fun as a kid, to taking on new challenges and staying fit as an adult.

Donovan’s love for athletics is closely intertwined with his over 35-year involvement with Dalhousie. As a commerce student living in Howe Hall, he took full advantage of every recreation opportunity available during his four years on campus.

I certainly wasn’t a varsity athlete, but I was an enthusiastic participant in intramurals and any pick-up basketball games on the go,” says Donovan. “And I loved watching varsity games—I still do.”

Reflecting on his positive experiences, Donovan notes that he encouraged his kids to get involved with sports as well.

“I always said sport was a close second to academics because the two really go hand-in-hand. Just from a mental health aspect—you have to have some type of balance in your life, and sport is such a good outlet.”

For someone who doesn’t consider himself an athlete, Donovan has quite an appetite for challenging himself physically. He’s completed 20 marathons, including seven Boston Marathons.  And after learning to swim at age 40, he’s even included some triathlons along the way.

Donovan’s goal is to complete 25 marathons. He plans to run in the Tokyo Marathon in March 2024 — the last of the world majors he has left to tackle after completing the Berlin, London, Boston, New York and Chicago marathons.

Three men running in a marathon, one celebrates by pumping his fist in the air. Doran Donovan (left in pink sneakers) celebrates as he completes the 2023 Dublin Marathon with a time of 3:22:15, qualifying him for the 2025 Boston Marathon.

Loyal Dal supporter

Donovan has been a loyal Dal supporter since he graduated, giving regularly to Athletics, including the men’s and women’s basketball and hockey teams, and the Rowe School of Management. He’s also been a key volunteer for Dal programs like the BIG RIDE for the Beatrice Hunter Cancer Research Institute, the Dalhousie Black and Gold Club, and Friends of Dal Hockey.

“I didn’t have the means to do large gifts starting out, but now after so many years I’m fortunate enough to be in a position where I can give a bit more,” says Donovan, who has worked for over 25 years in financial management at CIBC Wood Gundy.

When he learned Dalhousie was building a new rink on campus, Donovan saw the perfect opportunity to grow his support for Dal athletics. He soon committed $50,000 to the Oulton-Stanish Centre.

Four men standing on a tee box at a golf course Doran Donovan (pictured second from left) at a Dalhousie golf tournament

Creating camaraderie on campus

While Donovan looks forward to seeing the many health and wellness benefits the Oulton-Stanish Centre will bring, he’s most excited to see the camaraderie it will create on campus.

“School was obviously important, but the biggest thing for me at Dal was the friendships,” says Donovan. “I just remember all that fun, silly stuff that we did as part of our campus life—the late-night jogs over to the arena for midnight broomball or the study breaks at noon skating. Or getting a group together to cheer as loud as we could for the Tigers so we could win Tony’s pizzas or the good old six-foot Subway sub.

“I’m so happy that Dal students of the present and future will be able to have that same positive experience we were able to enjoy.”

Donovan adds that giving to this project is a great way to have a truly positive impact. “The Oulton-Stanish Centre will make a huge difference not just for varsity athletes, but for the entire Dalhousie community. I’ll have my skates ready to hit the ice when the doors open!”