Donna Caroline Havnaer Houck, Ph.D.



Patti Levine-Brown, “Donna Caroline Havnaer Houck, Ph.D.,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed June 15, 2024,

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Donna Caroline Havnaer Houck, Ph.D.


Appalachian State University
Universities and colleges--Faculty


Patti Levine-Brown




Biographical sketches


Boone (N.C.)

Spatial Coverage

Temporal Coverage



Associate Professor Emerita

Biographical Text

Associate Professor Emerita of English Donna Havnaer Houck, a native of Hickory, North Carolina, is the daughter of Kathryn W. and Houston D. Havnaer. Surrounded by a family of educators - great-aunt Kathryn Brooks, an elementary school teacher; uncle Yates Havnaer, a high school science teacher; brother Donnell Havnaer, a middle school English teacher and later middle school principal; and mother, a high school English, Latin teacher, and counselor -she knew almost from the very beginning that she, too, would be an instructor. Houck graduated from Claremont Central High School (now Hickory High School), where she was a student athlete, co-editor of the student annual, and a member of Future Teachers of America. She received a full scholarship to Appalachian State Teachers' College (now Appalachian State University). At Appalachian State, she double-majored in English and Spanish, making the Dean's list every quarter. She was included in the Who's Who in American Colleges and Universities her senior year and was designated an honor student teacher after she completed her student teaching in Valdese, North Carolina. She graduated magna cum laude in 1964. With the encouragement of her mentors Dr. Cratis Williams, Dr. Graydon Eggers, and Mrs. Daisy Eggers, Houck returned to Appalachian State that same year to work on her master's degree, which she completed in 1965, with majors in English and community college education. After being courted by numerous institutions eager to employ her for their English departments, she elected to return to Appalachian State, where she would teach in the English department for the next thirty-five years. While at Appalachian State University, Houck began her career as an instructor and ended it as an associate professor. Her favorite courses were the Popular Novel and Advanced Grammar, although she was also fond of the sophomore British and American literature classes. Likewise, Houck found teaching in the English Honors Program both challenging and rewarding. In 1978, Houck began work on her Ph.D. degree at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, while continuing her full-time responsibilities in the English department. Her dissertation, Robert Penn Warren: The Prison of the Self, explored the imprisonment imagery in Warren's ten novels. She completed her degree requirements in 1986. Looking back over her years at Appalachian State University, Dr. Houck says another of her favorite activities was participating in the Freshman Summer Orientation Program, which she joined in 1981. There, she helped literally thousands of students make a successful transition from high school into college. Pursuing her interest in helping these students succeed at Appalachian State, she became a part-time advisor in the General College, a position she held until 1995, at which time she assumed the role of faculty advisor for teaching majors in the English department. Dr. Houck married Robert M. Houck in 1976. Robert was a VietNam war veteran, as well as an Appalachian alumnus. After thirty-five years of teaching at Appalachian State University, Houck retired and was granted emerita status from the Board of Trustees in 2001. Today, she says she thoroughly enjoyed her years of teaching at Appalachian State, but she is also enjoying retirement. Dr. Houck especially likes the fact that she now has time to care for her animal rescues. She has always been involved with animal welfare, and she volunteers weekly with the Watauga Humane Society. Sources: Appalachian State University files. -Patti Levine-Brown

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