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dan lee

Daniel E. Lee

Professor of Religion, Director for the Center for Study of Ethics, Marian Taft Cannon Endowed Chair in the Humanities

A member of the Augustana faculty since 1974, Dan Lee is the Marian Taft Cannon Professor in the Humanities and director of the Augustana Center for the Study of Ethics.

His teaching responsibilities include courses in business ethics and medical ethics. On a two-year cycle, he teaches a course entitled “Faiths in Dialogue,” after which he and the students enrolled in the course spend 12 days in Rome visiting various sites of significance, attending an audience with the pope, and meeting with church officials and other individuals to talk about issues discussed in the course.

Video: Augie Minute with Dr. Dan Lee

Lee named first Cannon Professor

The family that cites together, writes together

Appointed chair of the religion department in 2008, he will continue serving in that capacity through the 2013-2014 academic year.

Born in the mountains of Montana as World War II was nearing its conclusion, he began his formal education in a two-room country school, where the teacher allowed students to run outside to look at airplanes when one flew over.

A summa cum laude graduate of Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn., he received the M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees from Yale University, where they don’t run outside to look at airplanes.

He is a Navy veteran, having served as a commissioned officer assigned to naval intelligence. While in the Navy, he studied Russian, which proved useful to the Augustana Choir when it needed a translator to provide a literal translation of a Russian choral arrangement. He is no longer involved in espionage — in fact, he hasn’t been involved in that particular line of work for more than 40 years.

Dr. Lee is the author of numerous articles and books. Published by Cambridge University Press in 2010, Human Rights and the Ethics of Globalization, which he co-authored with his daughter, Elizabeth J. Lee, was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2011 winner.

Other books include Letters from a Sailor: America at War 1917-1918 (2011) Freedom vs. Intervention: Six Tough Cases (2005), Navigating Right and Wrong: Ethical Decision Making in a Pluralistic Age (2002), Generations and the Challenge of Justice (1996), Hope Is Where We Least Expect to Find It (1993), and Death and Dying: Ethical Choices in a Caring Community (1983).

A published poet and writer of fiction, his first work of fiction, entitled Of Clay Made, was released in 2007. He writes a weekly column that appears in the op-ed sections of The Rock Island Argus and The (Moline, Ill.) Dispatch, as well as occasional pieces for other papers. Op-ed pieces he has written have appeared in USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Journal of Commerce, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Peoria Journal-Star, and several other newspapers.

He is currently working on a book on individual rights and the common good. He is also writing a historical novel entitled When Jeannette Met Jeannette, though that manuscript is on the back burner while he is working on other projects.

In June 2007, he was a member of the People to People Ambassador Program Philosophy Delegation to China, which led to an invitation to be a guest professor in the College of Philosophy at Shanghai Normal University in 2010 and 2011. Also in 2007, he was invited to present a paper entitled “The Erosion of Ethical Standards in Government: Is What It Takes To Get Elected the Root of the Problem?” at a symposium at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, a paper that was subsequently published in Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table. The previous year he presented a paper entitled “Ensuring Academic Freedom for Students in the Classroom” at a symposium at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, a paper that was subsequently published in the International Journal of Humanities.

Dr. Lee was named Professor of the Month in February 2007 by the Augustana Chapter of Mortar Board and was selected in 2011 for a Harold T. and Violet M. Jaeke Award for Outstanding Service to the College.

He is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), an honorary organization that recognizes outstanding students and faculty, and Order of Omega, an honorary organization that recognizes individuals who have contributed significantly to Greek life.

Dr. Lee serves as the faculty advisor for three groups on campus: Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK), the Augustana Veterans Support Group, and the Phi Rho sorority. Other activities include helping prepare Miss Iowa for the Miss America contest.

He is a member of the Handel Oratorio Society and has sung with Opera Quad Cities in Puccini’s La Bohème, Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutti,Bizet’s Carmen, and Verdi’s Rigoletto. In May 2013, he sang with Opera@Augustana in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, in which he played the role of a cowardly police officer.

Along with singing, his hobbies include photography, sailing, gourmet cooking, trap and skeet shooting, oil painting, playing guitar, and working on the log cabin he and his wife are building in mountains of Montana on part of the family farm that he inherited.

He is a member of Trinity Lutheran Church (ELCA), Moline, Ill. He and his wife, Ruth Jean (Danielson) Lee, have one daughter, Elizabeth J. Lee, born Feb. 23, 1982.

Specializations: Ethics, Religion


  • B.A., Concordia (Moorhead)
  • M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D., Yale