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Shane Doolan is Commander of the UNC U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and Chair of the Department of Military Science. (photo by Jon Gardiner) He stands, in uniform, in front of the ROTC building on campus.
Shane Doolan is Commander of the UNC U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and Chair of the Department of Military Science. (photo by Jon Gardiner)

Shane Doolan is Commander of the UNC U.S. Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps and Chair of the Department of Military Science and Director of Off-Campus Student Life and Community Partnerships.

What’s a typical day like in your job?

It starts at 0600 when cadets report for physical training. When I get to my office, I answer emails and review what will be taught that day. I teach all the 400-level courses that cadets take before they leave Carolina. But perhaps the most crucial part of my day is spent talking with the cadets who walk through my office door.  All our instructors are here to serve as a coach, mentor or counselor to help them solve whatever issue they may be facing that particular day. We get involved with each student because we are invested in their success. The U.S. Army gives them a lot of money, and we expect to get a return on that investment. What that means for us is that we sometimes don’t leave our office until 2200.

How does your work support Carolina’s mission?

Part of Carolina’s mission is to produce the leaders of tomorrow—and that is what I do. Any student on this campus can take any one of our classes and learn something about leadership. We provide purpose, direction and motivation. If you can convince somebody to show up every single day at 6 a.m., you are on the right path.

What do you like most about your work?

I like playing a direct role shaping the next generation of students and being able to positively influence the lives of some of our finest young women and men who will be our leaders of tomorrow.

How did you come to work in this position?

More than 1,000 officers apply to an U.S. Army board to become professors of military science and only 16 percent are selected each year. I was one of them. The U.S. Army slated me to go to Georgia Tech, but I got a call from the officer selected for Carolina who asked me to switch with him. I said, “Gladly.”

What’s the best part of the story you left out?

I was born on a banana plantation in Jamaica that my family spent 350 years working on. I knew that if I stayed there the only thing I could do in life was chop bananas. That was what my future looked like because that is all my family knew. The only way I could break that trend was to come to the United States. I tell people it took me four tries to come to the United States, but I never gave up because I had a dream. I came here in 1992 and it took seven years for me to become a citizen. As soon as I did, I joined the U.S. Army to become an officer.

Editor’s note: On April 4, Doolan was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel.

Carolina People is a regular feature in each issue of the Gazette that asks one of your fascinating colleagues five questions about the work they do for the University. Do you know someone with an interesting or unique job at Carolina? Please email your suggestions to gazette@unc.edu and put Carolina People in the subject line.

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