Doug Dotterweich web versionJeremy McNeese vividly remembers the first time he met Dr. Doug Dotterweich. In his freshman economics class at East Tennessee State University, Dr. Dotterweich began with, “I am a follower of Jesus, and I would love to talk about that if you are interested.”

“That,” says Jeremy, “was a breath of fresh air for me.”

Over his 30-year career at ETSU, many students have availed themselves of Dr. Dotterweich’s invitation. Some come to ask a question about class, but then hang around, admiring his lighthouse collection; it’s clear they want to talk further. Dr. Dotterweich often uses the spiritual connotations of lighthouses as a bridge to begin a gospel conversation with these students.

One ETSU football player who was struggling in the class came to see Dr. Dotterweich after the first test. “Why are you studying economics?” Dr. D asked him. “Have you asked God what He thinks about what you should do with your life?” This new idea began an ongoing conversation between the two; the student eventually trusted Christ, and changed his major.

For several years, Dr. Dotterweich served as thesis advisor for the undergraduate honors students at ETSU, a time-consuming task. “I committed to God to do this,” he explains, “in order to get to know the students individually enough that they would see me as a mentor and a friend.”

One of these honors students lived in an apartment complex where a neighboring student had committed suicide. Because Dr. Dotterweich was a mentor, she turned to him to talk through and process the tragic experience. She was one of several honors students who trusted Christ after Dr. D shared the gospel with them. “The first time she heard the gospel, she told me, ‘That is what I want to do,’” he recalls.

Dr. Dotterweich remembers Jeremy as “an amazing guy in terms of his heart for people, especially international students.” As Jeremy sought God’s leading into a career in missions after graduation, Dr. Dotterweich met with him weekly as a discipler. “He was my cheerleader as I knocked on doors, and prayer partner as I sought guidance,” says Jeremy. Dr. D’s investment paid off: Jeremy now serves with Cru’s campus ministries.

The two traveled together on a mission team to East Asia. There, the president of the university joined a crowd of students to hear Dr. Dotterweich lecture as a visiting professor, blending spiritual truths with lessons in economics.

Dr. Dotterweich has at times considered options to teach at a Christian college. But, he says, “at this point, my wife and I have felt like my call is to a secular university.” As a follower of Jesus in that environment, Dr. Dotterweich’s own life has served as a lighthouse to his students and colleagues, just like the ones that decorate his office.