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Frederick Doner

President of Doner Studio, B.A. '65, M.A. '66

What do you do for a living and what's it like?

I am President of Doner Studio, a fine art* studio based in New York City, whose clients include private collectors, art dealers, museums, architects, and public art institutions. This follows a media and marketing career in creative and management roles in advertising, television program development, media buying, and digital marketing for national brands and startups. Spare time: Board member of my NYC co-op apartment, past board member of the International Multiple Sclerosis Society, current member, U of M English Advisory Board; taking blues piano lessons; and married to the *artist (and founding partner of Doner Studio), Michele Oka Doner (whom I met while an English major at Michigan!), with two grown sons, one a screen-writer who also majored in English, a daughter-in-law (a book author and screenwriter) and two young grandchildren. (Guess what their majors will be.)

Who were some of your favorite professors/classes and why?

Karl Litzenberg taught Robert Browning’s The Ring and the Book not as Victorian poetry but as one of the first truly modern novels. Thomas Garbaty made learning Old English so enjoyable you thought you were taking The History of Rock N Roll.

How have you used your English degree in your career and/ or life?

Hourly: Either editing a manuscript written for an art catalog or book; or creating digital messages to alert viewers about an upcoming exhibition. Interfacing with art historians, book publishers, fine art professionals and collectors requires communication skills learned as an integral part of the English curriculum at U of M. Earlier in my life, this English Lit. training was invaluable when writing television, radio, newspaper, and later internet communications as well as marketing plans for major national companies and later on, internet startups. Also for writing program concepts for documentary (non-fiction) television programming. I have also found this training invaluable when I participating in land use and climate change activism.

The English Degree at the University of Michigan provides a gateway to a rich life, whether you measure “rich” it in terms of jobs landed and maintained, books read, ideas created, essays, books, papers, and/or plans written, ideas shared, friends and colleagues made and kept, or all of the above. The English Degree gives you the greatest chance to have a life of “all of the above.” And that has made all of the difference.