Dr. Rodney A. Rogers

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Dr. Rodney A. Rogers (August 24, 1926-August 12, 2010)

Originally submitted by: Aaron Keith, Drake University, November 3, 2010

Dr. Rodney A. Rogers-Copyright-Drake University

Rodney Albert Rogers was born in the small town of Lucas, Iowa on August 24, 1926. Rogers attended Jamaica High School, which is located in Jamaica, Iowa. [2] Rodney Rogers would become very familiar with the city of Des Moines in the span of his lifetime. Rogers became the first of his family to attend college, and did so at Drake University. Shortly after arriving at Drake Rogers was called on by his nation. Rodney A. Rogers served in the U.S. Army from 1944 to 1946. After aiding his country in WWII Rogers returned to Drake University where he earned his master's degree in biology. After graduating from Drake in 1951, Rogers pursued a PhD in biology at the University of Iowa. Rogers' major at Iowa was in the area of Zoology, and his minor was in Bacteriology. While Rodney was studying in Iowa City he met his future wife, Dr. Frances Rogers, whom also was earning her doctorate in biology. [3] Rogers kept in touch with his professors at Drake throughout school while at Iowa. As a result of his communication with Drake faculty, Rogers was offered a job at Drake after completing his doctorate. He didn't think twice before accepting the position. [4] Dr. Rodney Rogers began teaching at Drake University in 1955 and did not retire until the year of 2007. [2]

The Affect of Dr. Rogers on the Campus of Drake University

Dr. Rogers immediately impacted the campus of Drake with his uniqueness and love for biology. One of the most unusual experiments that Dr. Rogers assigned received attention from the Drake newspaper, The Times-Delphic. In this article published on September 22, 1981 Rogers made headlines for his "biting" experiment. The experiment consisted of the biology students taking a trip to the Drake University woods in order to observe the bite's of mosquitoes. The objective of this lab was to record the average time a mosquito sucked blood out of the student's arms. The students were also required to note the affect their blood had on the mosquito's abdomen and the behavior of the bug. The overall lesson of this experiment was to understand the diversity that biology offered; and in this case, it was though mosquito species. Most of the students could not believe what they were required to complete. However, most of them agreed that it was a very unique and interesting assignment. [7] Dr. Rogers touched students with more than just his mosquito experiment. Dr. Rogers started a very fun trend for the entering freshman biology students. Every year, the opening lecture began with a bang, literally. The class would start with Rogers' hand slamming down on a lab table holding a mouse in his hand. The first words out of his mouth were always the same, "Is it alive or is it dead?" Rogers used this opening lecture to catch the attention of the students and to teach them the difference between life and death. The students were never bored by Dr. Rogers' lectures, and that was his goal. Dr. Rogers believed that in order to get the point across to his students, he had to develop a teaching style that drew interest from the students. Rogers' approach was using fun, hands-on activities to engage students. He would use models, volunteers, and even send students on scavenger hunts to interest them. Dr. Rogers always put a twist on biology topics, and was never satisfied unless his students were. [1]

The Man That Pushed For The Olin Hall Project-Copyright-Drake University

The Rogers Family

Rodney Rogers was not the only Dr. Rogers living under his roof; Mrs. Rogers was also a doctor in the field of biology. Rodney Rogers met his future wife, Frances Rogers, at the University of Iowa. They were both pursuing their doctorates in biology and shared the dream of one day teaching. Frances Rogers arrived at Drake in 1969, fourteen years after her husband. The two were also wedded that same year. Like her husband, Frances was a professor in the biology department and loved to keep her students entertained. Mr. and Mrs. Rogers took advantage of their professions, and would often discuss how they could improve as instructors while they were at home. While the Rogers' were not focusing on their jobs, they had two sons, Bob and Bill. Both sons attended Drake University as their parents requested. One of the sons followed in his parent's footsteps and earned his doctorate in biology and became a professor. The other son earned his bachelor's degree in economics. It is safe to say that the Rogers Family will always be a Drake family. [5]

A Drake Legend

Drake University Legend-Copyright-The Des Moines Register

Dr. Rogers retired from Drake University in 2006 as a result of Alzheimer's disease. He managed to teach 16 years longer than he and his wife had expected. The two had plans to retire together in the early 1990's, but their plan was altered due to his wife's unexpected health complications. Frances Richie Rogers died in 1992 from breast cancer. Rodney Rogers looked to Drake students for comfort after his wife had passed. [2] In 1993 he was named Drake's Outstanding Undergraduate Teacher of the Year. [6] There is not a single award that Drake can give to Rodney Rogers to match what he has done for Drake students, and the University. Dr. Rodney A. Rogers was not only a great person and mentor, but he is a Drake legend. Dr. Rogers passed away on August 12, 2010 at the age of 83. [3]


[1]-Berney, C. (1988, Rogers teaches about living as a way of life. The Times-Delphic, [2]-Dr. Rodney A. Rogers. (2010, The Des Moines Register, [3]-Finney, P. D. (2010, Drake professor who welcomed freshman students for 50 years dies. The Des Moines Register, [4]-Harris, D. (2000, Biology professor reflects, predicts future. The Times-Delphic, [5]-Jones, D. C. (1986, Biology duo share same profession and home, too. The Times-Delphic, [6]-Rogers named outstanding undergrad teacher. (1993, On Campus, [7]-Russu, J. (1981, Biology professor suggests 'biting' experiment. The Times-Delphic