“A larger than life character” is how many people described Dr. Robert Douglas “Doug” Hawkins, a Troy University Board of Trustees member.
Hawkins passed away on Saturday, Sept. 5, in Montgomery, due to complications following open-heart surgery. He was 80.
“He was just full of passion and excitement and energy,” said Morgan Drinkard, Hawkins’ granddaughter-in-law and lecturer of journalism and communication at Troy. “He was just always on to something.”
According to a press release from University Relations, Hawkins was appointed to the Board of Trustees in 1980, serving as president pro tempore from 1995 until 2011. He was a charter member of the Troy Jaycees and a Rotarian for almost 55 years.
Hawkins was also a member of First Baptist Church, where he served as a deacon. Hawkins also founded the Gamma Gamma chapter of Pi Kappa Phi at Troy University and was named Greek Man of the Year in 1969 and Honorary Alumnus of the Year in 1996. He served as an adviser to the fraternity for 25 years.
Mike Haney, a senior sport and fitness management major from LaPorte, Indiana, and president of the Pi Kappa Phi chapter at Troy, said it was a blessing that Hawkins was such an integral part of the organization.
“For me personally it was hard to attend the funeral on Monday afternoon, knowing that Pi Kappa Phi lost a great brother,” he said. “I was honored to be in attendance, to witness our alumni be the pallbearers at the funeral. It just showed me how much this place meant to him.”
In addition to his contribution in setting up the Greek system, Hawkins also helped move Troy athletics to NCAA Division I and advocated for the expansion of the international programs.
Jack Hawkins Jr., chancellor of Troy University, praised Doug Hawkins for his Trojan pride and support. Doug Hawkins played a significant role in bringing Jack Hawkins to Troy as the chancellor.
“We stand on the shoulders of giants at Troy and foremost among these giants was Dr. Doug Hawkins,” Chancellor Hawkins said. “With his passing we have lost one of the best friends and most loyal supporters a university could have.
“On a personal level, I have lost a valued colleague and friend. His support on the Board of Trustees was invaluable, and I always knew where I stood with Dr. Doug. He was a true Trojan.”
In 2013, Hawkins wrote “Turning Points,” a history of Troy University. The tower at Veterans Memorial Stadium that houses the press box, the suites and the athletic training facilities bears his name. Hawkins also practiced veterinary medicine in Troy for 55 years.
“I just think he will be greatly missed by a variety of people,” Drinkard said. “He has the whole group of people who know him through his veterinarian services and his love for animals.
“That’s a completely different crowd than his love for the church, and then there is the love for the Troy community, the city and then there is the love for the university. So all of those different groups of people have truly lost an incredible advocate in all those areas.”
Ryan Cole, a senior political science major from Athens, met Hawkins at a board of trustees meeting his sophomore year and recalled Hawkins’ congeniality.
“He went out of his way to get to know me on a personal level,” Cole said. “He was really nice to me. He asked me where I was from, what I was majoring in, things of that nature.
“And then I saw him a couple of weeks after that at another alumni event. And he remembered my name and shook my hand. He always went out of his way to talk to me, to really extend friendship and just an open hand.”
State Sen. Gerald Dial, who succeeded Doug Hawkins as president pro tempore on the board of trustees, praised Hawkins as a valuable colleague.
“Dr. Doug was the longest-serving trustee in the history of our board, and his influence was felt in all areas of the university,” Dial said. “No one loved Troy University more than Dr. Doug Hawkins. His passing leaves a huge leadership void on our board.”’
The Sound of the South will perform a tribute for Hawkins before the football game on Saturday.
The Troy community mourns his passing but also remembers his contribution and one-of-a-kind personality, as expressed by this quote from his book, “Turning Point”:
“If you are in a pace of leadership and you don’t have a few black eyes along — you are dodging too many issues.”