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Professor Paul Conway Marks 50 Years on ND Faculty


So, a duck walks into a finance final…*

On a cold December day, students from several sections of an undergraduate finance course are hard at work taking Paul Conway's final exam in Jordan Auditorium. Suddenly, a lone duck waddles into the room and onto the stage. The surprised professor tries to catch the creature, but it proves too quick. Flapping its wings and quacking incessantly, the duck turns the solemn mood in the auditorium to mayhem…

Sound like the opening lines of a joke? For Paul Conway, finance professor who retired last spring after 50 years of service to Mendoza College, the duck's inadvertent entrance into his exam about five years ago was the beginning of many jokes, as pranksters began leaving toy ducks* of all sizes in Conway's mailbox, outside his office, even in his back yard.

No one has confessed to perpetrating the original stunt nor any of the subsequent duck capers, but the adventures have become the stuff of Notre Dame lore. And now, so has Paul Conway, for few retire after such a lengthy and distinguished career with the university.

In May, colleagues, friends and former students gathered to celebrate Conway 's contributions. The attendees commended him for advocating on the faculty senate, keeping people honest and standing up for the underdog. Former students, including Board of Trustees members Jay Jordon and Joe O'Neill III, recalled his dedication to teaching and his exceptionally high standards. He set those standards early in his tenure when he failed 15 out of 37 students in a required course. Conway never had to do that again; his reputation was set. And generations of business students have risen to meet the challenge.

As for the ducks, it's doubtful they'll stop appearing. A child's wading pool filled with plastic ducks appeared outside Conway 's office on the day of his retirement party.

“He may retire,” sources said, “but this is not the end.”

Sounds just like the legacy of Paul Conway.

—Paige Risser

* No ducks were harmed during the making of these practical jokes. Suspected pranksters: Professors Carl Ackermann, Bob Drevs, and Ken Milani.

 
 
Copyright © 2006 University of Notre Dame All Rights Reserved Last Updated on: October 31, 2006