Donovan Crest

It is hoped that young people accessing this section will be able to believe they too can reach their potential, education and find their mentors.

Professor John J. Donovan’s passion for the past 40 years have been as a teacher.

The academic, business, and government associations that have come to Professor John J. Donovan has been largely due to the good fortune of education and mentors, thus he has and is striving to give the same gifts to others.

Professor John J. Donovan was born on Brooklawn Terrace in Lynn, Mass


Professor John J. Donovan started his professional journey to Yale with nothing more than what he could fit on his motor scooter.


For the young people reading this Professor John J. Donovan conveys a brief story of a young girl. Mary was told she could not accomplish a goal of climbing Mount Monadnock but after climbing she said, sadly, “I wonder how many other things I might have been able to do but I never tried because they said I could not!”

Lesson: To all Readers-TRY

The favorite book of Professor John J. Donovan “The Little Engine That Could” is particularly helpful.


Passion for Education

Professor John J. Donovan’s Mother and Father


The seed for education was planted by Professor John J. Donovan’s father who was a 3rd grade teacher and by an extraordinary Brilliant mother, who while did not have the opportunity to go to college as a young woman; would insist that her son’s go to college. (Professor John J. Donovan supported her in going to Harvard and receiving her degree at 62!)


If you are a parent expose young children to educational joys.


The passion however was ignited by a group of mentors.

Listed here are some of those mentors here with Professor John J. Donovan’s deep appreciation of what they did for him and others, but most importantly for the type of mentors that you, the visitor to this site might want to align yourself with.


In high school, Mr. Thornton, Lynn English High School mathematics teacher, would ask young Professor John J. Donovan to teach the class. Mr. Thornton would tell john always look for the pattern - e.g. In algebra Professor John J. Donovan said treat the equation as being “fair” to both sides 2X=16 solve for X divide both sides by 2!

Your mentors can help you find the “patterns” in discipline, life, businesses, and academia – listen to them.

Further take the opportunity to teach -teaching you “learn the material twice”


The system

Professor John J. Donovan’s hope was someday to become a college teacher at a university -first MIT, and in paralleled to teach children like his father did.


In the community he taught at the Lowell School, and he continues teaching children within charitable organizations; “Children’s Potential Unlimited”, donating computing capability to schools; through establishment of scholarships. It was through the mentor of Professor Paul MacAvoy that made this possible.

Professor Paul MacAvoy, (MIT economist) mentored me at MIT. Guided me through the process of quality teaching and research,


But without his knowledge of the MIT system Professor John J. Donovan would not have received tenure. A key day - Professor John J. Donovan while getting off the train to Cambridge with Professor MacAvoy - together MacAvoy asked Donovan how are things going at MIT? Donovan told him “great, my text books have sold over 12,000 copies, He had just received the highest teaching award at MIT”.

Professor MacAvoy’s response “this is a disaster” “ if 10,000 people can understand your books there is no intellectual content what so ever, and if you taught a course in pornography you would be assured of winning a teaching award. You will not be reappointed you must stop. For MIT they do not care if you are a good teacher today but will you have something to teach in twenty years hence, do the research that will be relevant in 20 years”, publish in these journals” (he gave the list). Professor John J. Donovan did and became one of the youngest tenured professors at MIT.

To the reader- find as a mentor someone who knows the system (or systems) as and listen to them.


Dean Abe Siegel, dean in the Sloan School. When jealousy of colleagues manifested itself into criticism he defended Professor John J. Donovan at MIT. In business it was Lou Platt CEO HP. Many have steped for the when he has been falsely accused of terrible things.


Find a strong person with integrity and independence and become close to that person

Mentors that have influence


David Lloyd a classmate with me in the Tufts/MIT undergraduate program, in 1962, said to Professor John J. Donovan “computers are the future”. He recommended Professor John J. Donovan take Professor Kuo class.

Professor Shan Kuo Ph.D (Yale), Professor John J. Donovan’s college professor at Yale. He is now at University of New Hampshire. At Tufts he introduced Professor John J. Donovan to computers and advocated that he go to Yale. He wrote a letter to Professor Worgin and the president of Yale advocating they accept Professor John J. Donovan.

Find those mentors that have been where you want to be and are respectful, and have courage.



Admiral Rickover interviewed young Professor John J. Donovan –asked him a question “why are man hole covers round??”

Professor John J. Donovan answered (from his construction work experience), two reasons - so they will not fall into the hold and so they can be moved by rolling them! Rickover said correct, join me.

As a mentor he taught me many lessons e.g.

-”Never have anyone bring coffee to a meeting”: One day Admiral Rickover assembled 12 admirals and their young assistants for assignments.

All were dressed in total navy “whites” As they came into the room one of the boys had a cup of coffee in his hand.

Admiral Rickover turned to Professor John J. Donovan and said that boy will never become an admiral.

Professor John J. Donovan asked why? (Rickover had no prejudice-he only wanted smart and loyal associates)

Admiral responded, –two reasons!

“What are they”?

He said-wait you will see.

After an hour each boy had to describe their desired assignments. When the boy (who had the coffee) got up he moved his hand and hit the cup (1/2 full) of coffee. As it spilled across the table on the “whites” of the admirals.

Admiral Rickover turned and said “ONE”

What is the other?


Well after two hours what do you think? The boy had to go to the bathroom (after drinking a half cup of coffee) he raised his hand and asked to be excused!

As soon as he left the other admirals asked for the assignments

Rickover said “TWO”!!

The boy, when returned, was given Nome Alaska -(Never to become an admiral)

Lesson-Do not bring coffee into a meeting.

-Quality:-one must personally take responsibility

There has never been an accident on a nuclear submarine! Rickover personally interviewed every vendor. One day on the 7th floor of the Pentagon (in Rickover’s office Professor John J. Donovan respectfully behind him)

A vendor came in with his product- a sensing device as to the severity of depth charges. Rickover asked if he had tested the device for shocks. The vendor said yes! Rickover proceeded to the window, looked down and threw the device out of the window. As it “whistled” to the ground Rickover said if it still works you have a contract -if it does not never show your face again to the United States Navy!! -the vendor did not come back!

Lesson-pick mentors who are strong and wise- watch them!

Young Colleagues

Professor John J. Donovan introduce these young people, who have inspired him and by their example they give us all hope that the next generation will be even better!


Land Conservation

The Passion, for conservation of land has its roots in long walks with his father in “Lynn Woods”, a woodland preserve. The passion was ignited at 16 when Professor John J. Donovan bought a motor scooter and traveled to the North Shore and realized how beautiful it was, only to return four years later and see the developments move in.

Professor John J. Donovan started purchasing land in 1974. First by borrowing. His first piece was 30 acres of open space that was about to be developed, next was 10 acres, then 17, then 7 until he assembled nearly 1000 acres. He placed farming and conservation restrictions on that beautiful land.

Professor John J. Donovan, working with his wife Linda, Donovan, Essex County Greenbelt, and Essex Country Trail Association are creating a network of trails throughout the area for walking, cross-country skiing, and riding.


For Professor John J. Donovan Academic Journey through his Ideas see B - Article 1 Jul 2015 Revised.doc and be guided to try new ideas


For his hope for his family see Family - hope