The ISSDL acknowledges with gratitude the many contributions of Dr. Richard Durr, who has been an integral part of the SDL Symposium and the International Society for Self-Directed Learning for more than 25 years. Retiring from the ISSDL Board this year, he will be greatly missed.
A dedicated lifelong learner, Richard evidenced his commitment to SDL early by homeschooling his children. As a doctoral student at Florida Atlantic University, he authored a dissertation that was carefully crafted to further the emergent research on the connection between self-directed learning and productivity in the workplace. His research answered several questions raised by previous studies and explored new areas, such as varying levels of readiness for SDL among occupational categories (An Examination of Readiness for Self-Directed Learning and Selected Personnel Variables at a Large Midwestern Electronics Development and Manufacturing Corporation, 1992).
His doctoral work was the beginning of 25 years of research and service focused on developing self-directed learning readiness in the workplace. He worked at Motorola for 25 years, serving in different management capacities and facilities, and retired as Director of Learning and Development at the Boynton Beach, FL, facility. Here he put his research into practice. Motorola’s admirable requirement that each associate log 40 hours of learning per year sometimes led to individuals signing up for prepared programs that were not a best fit for their needs in order to meet the time requirement. Dr. Durr designed Self-Directed Learning Laboratories, including an orientation program and extensive resources to enable the best use of this learning time. His SDL Laboratories at Motorola’s Scottsdale, AZ, and Boynton Beach, FL facilities became exemplars for the industry. In fact, due to widespread interest from outside organizations that sent personnel to visit and observe, Motorola had to restrict visitors to Fridays only and on a space-available basis. These labs were highlighted at meetings of the International Center for Quality and Productivity’s Conference on Tools and Technology for Self-Directed Learning; conferences were specifically held in West Palm Beach, FL, and Scottsdale in order to allow attendees to visit the labs.
Dr. Durr’s contributions to the SDL Symposium and the ISSDL were numerous and multi-faceted. He single-handedly chaired the SDL Symposium from 1999 to 2002, handling all the arrangements. The symposia were held in Phoenix, AZ, and Boynton Beach so that Symposium attendees could also tour the Learning Labs. He also managed the publication of the book and CDs based on symposium papers for those years. When a committee of five began to divide and conquer the planning and implementation of the Symposium, he served on that committee through this year. He was also involved in the process of developing the nonprofit ISSDL, and was a founding Board member. In addition, he donated his expertise serving as webmaster for the Society, serving on the IJSDL editorial board, handling the final formatting of the Symposia programs for at least five years, and assisting in other ways too numerous to mention, as well as continuing to present papers and moderate sessions.
Dr. Durr was also generous in sharing his expertise with his community. Just one example: in the late 90’s, he and Dr. Lucy Guglielmino worked with the Palm Beach County School Board and Teachers’ Union to develop a system enabling experienced teachers to create their own self-directed learning projects designed to improve their practice. The teachers could then earn their required inservice points through meaningful, targeted, self-designed activities rather than having to choose among packaged or generic options that might not address their development needs.
Over the years, Dr. Durr has served as an adjunct professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University as well as Florida Atlantic University. He has published in several proceedings of the International Symposium of Self-Directed Learning, in the Human Resource Development Quarterly, the International Journal of Self-Directed Learning, and in the ASTD Handbook of Training Design and Delivery, among others.
In 2008, Dr. Durr was the deserving recipient of the Malcolm Knowles Award for Significant Lifelong Contributions to Self-Directed Learning presented by the ISSDL. Thank you, Richard, not only for your research and service, but also for your wit, your kindness, and your creativity.
The Membership and Board of Directors
International Society for Self-Directed Learning