Dr. Ardavan Davaran Scholarship
For twenty-seven years, from 1982 to 2009, Dr. Ardavan Davaran was one of the most popular teachers on campus because of his engaging teaching style and enthusiasm for life and literature, which he conveyed to all students. In recognition of these qualities, the English Department’s Writing Center was named after him in spring 2009.
Born in Iran, Dr. Davaran received in BA in Bacteriology (1965) and a PhD in Comparative Literature (1973) from the University of California. He returned to Iran and taught at the University of Teheran, where he chaired the Department of English and Comparative Literature. In the wake of that country’s revolution, he left Iran in 1980 and found a home at College of Notre Dame, serving as Director of International Student Affairs and, in 1982, teaching in the English Department.
Davaran, known as “Dr. D.” among his students and “Ardy” among friends and colleagues, was truly a larger than life individual, affecting the lives of everyone he met in very direct, personal ways. He was not simply a good teacher; he was a superb one. Students often said their lives had been changed by him, that he was the best teacher they had ever had. He made sure all students were involved in class discussions of literature, which were serious yet full of warmth and humor. For these reasons he was a great asset to the English Department, drawing many students to the major.
In addition to possessing superior pedagogical skills, Dr. Davaran was an active scholar with keen critical sensibilities. In graduate school he received a tuition waiver based on scholastic achievement, and in 1977 and 1978 he received Fulbright Grants to the East-West Center in Hawaii. He was guest editor of The Literary Review in 1995, and he was working on a book entitled Shakespearean Appropriations of Diversity and Difference before his untimely death in 2009. He delivered numerous comparative papers on East-West relations, postulating fundamental differences in character development (and undevelopment) in Western and Third World fiction.
Perhaps Dr. D. was best known for his witty, profound aphorisms about life and literature. “Don’t ever act accordingly,” he said. “In fact, act unaccordingly.” “Everyone is someone’s Oberon or Titania.” “You have to drink with people in their language.” He loved everyone he met; he thought everyone was wonderful. If there was a party on campus, Ardy was there, and he and his wife, Helen, often hosted lavish banquets at their house in Oakland, insisting that guests share a toast upon arriving.
To honor and commemorate this great teacher and individual, NDNU is instituting a scholarship in his name. Because he always sought to support students pursuing their education, this annual scholarship will assist students of literature complete their degrees at NDNU.