Alumni Letter from Dr. Don Howard (CLA ’69)

Dear Drs. Griswold and Brinkmann,

I am a graduate of the department of Philosophy at Boston University (1969). I received a letter from Dr. Brinkmann describing the department’s recent accomplishments. In that letter he suggested we graduates write to you and he to tell of our doings since graduation. With this request, I am complying.

My father asked me, when I was a student at B.U., what I was going to do with a degree in Philosophy. My answer to him was “go to medical school”. He laughed. Well, I did go to medical school, in New York, and graduated in 1973. Following this, I completed internship and residency in medicine and pathology, becoming board certified in the latter (University of California San Francisco, Univ. Southern California, University of Vermont). My interest was in academic scholarship and research. To this end I continued my studies, and obtained a Ph.D. in experimental pathology (immunology) from the University of British Columbia, where I was a Terry Fox Fellow. I have published quite a number of scientific papers related to cancer and the human immune system.

After my Ph.D. I became an attending pathologist at the Swedish Medical Center in Seattle Washington and Clinical Associate professor at the University of Washington Medical School. I have been here for twenty years and have been chief of the department of pathology.

Last year I formed a new company, CellNetix Pathology, of which I am Chairman and CEO. This is one of the largest private Anatomic Pathology companies in the country.

I am married and have five children and eight grandchildren! I live on an Island a short commute from Seattle.

The years have flown by, but I have never regretted my choosing to major in Philosophy. I entered B.U. as a biology major. During the summer between freshman and sophomore years, I worked with a senior Philosophy major at B.U. His thoughts, ideas and musings turned my head around (thank you Tony Long, wherever you are). That fall I enrolled as a Philosophy major. The rest, as they say, is history.

I am perhaps most proud of having done all of this myself. During my four years at B.U., I worked 20-30 hours per week, in addition to attending school full time (my kids should have this experience!). The rest of my education was all self funded as well. The short of the story, is that I left home at age 18, without a penny in my pocket, and never looked back. The back seat of unlocked cars were my bedroom and the occasional free lunch from a kindly friend’s mom, kept me afloat, while I worked, saved some money, got an apartment and continued my education, all without missing a beat. I used to tell my father, from whom I never accepted support, that it was important in life to suffer for one’s character. Many years later he asked me “Don, are you done suffering?” I said yes!

I am not sure if this is a bit much or what you wanted. But I would like to thank you for keeping alive a great philosophy department and B.U. for giving me a wonderful education, that launched me to places I could never imagine. It has been a wonderful ride, this thing called life.

With my best regards,
Don Howard