The Board and staff of The Hastings Center mourn the passing of our second president, Strachan Donnelley, PhD, on July 12. As president from 1996-1999, he oversaw the transition to a new generation of Center leadership while continuing his own pathbreaking research on humanity’s dependence on and responsibility for the environment.
During his 16 years at the Center, Donnelley, 66, was a powerful participant in its intellectual life, bringing to bear philosophical tradition and theory to the emerging problems of biology. In 2003, Donnelley founded the Center for Humans and Nature, an educational, research, and civic organization.
“Strachan’s belief that The Hastings Center should be a place, first and foremost, that deals with problems of ethical theory and his intuitions about the relation of `bioethics’ to the broadest problems of humans and their environment informed his presidency,” said Harold Edgar, chairman of the Board. “He took over from the founders—no easy task in any organization—and strengthened it in many ways.”
Among his achievements as president of The Hastings Center was the location and restoration of its permanent home, an historic building in Garrison, N.Y. In honor of his extraordinary service, the Board resolved to name the great lawn at the Center overlooking the Hudson River and its Highlands as the Donnelley Lawn.
“Strachan’s love of philosophy and of nature coincided as he lead the Center’s move to its beautiful home in Garrison with a stunning view of the Hudson River and the mountains beyond,” said Thomas Murray, president and CEO of the Center. “We shall be forever grateful to him.”
Bruce Jennings, former executive director and senior scholar at the Center, and currently director of the Center for Humans and Nature, remembers him this way:
“Strachan combined several vocations as a writer, an educator, and a builder and supporter of organizations in service to the common good. He was at once a conservationist, philanthropist, and philosopher; and he was also a man of remarkable love, dedication, and care for his family, friends, and colleagues.”