Rodney Doran

Published July 30, 2019

Rodney L. Doran, professor emeritus in the Graduate School of Education and the guiding force in the university’s popular and enduring Science Exploration Day, died July 24. He was 79.

Doran, who was professor emeritus of science education after an extensive teaching and research career in education, dedicated his career to improving classroom instruction. He created the New York State Summer Institute for Science and Math and the New Physics Teacher Institute.

Doran also established the Science Assessment Liaison Network, and developed resources for New York State Education Department and National Opinion Research Center.

“Rod was a wonderful colleague,” said Albert Pautler, professor emeritus in GSE and a close friend of Doran who, along with another UB professor, would meet Doran regularly for dinner as part of a group calling itself the Three Amigos.

“He had the respect of everyone in the GSE faculty,” Pautler said. “Rod was a personal friend, tennis player and golfer.”

Doran’s most lasting and well-known achievement may have been Science Exploration Day, the university’s annual adventure in the “cool side” of science that welcomed hundreds of the area’s most promising high school STEM students to campus with innovating and sometimes offbeat science seminars.

Doran organized and developed Science Exploration Day. Held during the university’s spring break, the event became a Western New York education tradition, celebrating its 25th year this spring. Science Exploration Day brought scientists, engineers and health care professionals to campus to offer a glimpse into their worlds to the next generation of prospective scientists and everyday citizens who will be asked to support science in the 21st century.

The seminars were designed for a hands-on, accessible experience on popular science topics.

“‘STEM is hot!’ ‘STEM is cool!’ I have seen these and similar headlines recently,” Doran told UBNow while preparing for this past spring’s Science Exploration Day. “The goal of Science Exploration Day is for each student to make his or her own headline about STEM.”

Doran earned more than 15 professional awards and honors. He authored or co-authored more than 15 books, several book chapters and more than 70 research articles, and directed or played a lead role in grant projects worth millions of dollars. Doran was the principal adviser for more than 40 doctoral students, and served on the dissertation committee for an additional 30 candidates.

He ascended through the SUNY faculty ranks, garnering promotions from assistant to associate to full professor, and ultimately earning the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. Through his teaching, conference presentations and publications, Doran has made a difference in the lives of countless students and teachers.

He was also active in international evaluation of science in major countries around the world, according to Pautler. Working with colleagues at other U.S. universities, Doran was a staff member of the International Study of Science, traveling worldwide researching which countries ranked the strongest in science education.

He was also a veteran of the U.S. Army.

A wake will take place from 3-7 p.m. Aug. 1 at Lombardo Funeral Home, Snyder Chapel, 4614 Main St., Snyder. A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Aug. 2 at Crossroads Lutheran Church, 4640 Main St., Snyder.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Rod Doran Legacy Scholarship Fund, PO Box 730, Buffalo, NY, 14226. Online condolences may be offered at