In essay, former UW System President Reilly recalls the role of dogs in his career

Former UW System President Kevin Reilly is the author of an essay in Inside Higher Ed that is titled, “Dogs and My Academic Life.” 

Photo of Kevin Reilly's dog Bridie
Reilly’s dog Bridie

Reilly holds an appointment as Regent Professor with the School of Education’s Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. He also is a senior fellow at the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

In his piece, Reilly describes how, over his career, three different dogs have helped him through different life stages. 

“I’ve had three (dogs) over the course of my academic life: two Labrador retrievers and a Bernese mountain dog,” writes Reilly. “All good friends indeed, all different characters, they each seemed to have the appropriate personality to help me get through the specific phase of my life and work they shared with me.”

Reilly adds: “The dogs in my life — Fergus, Dudley and Bridie — have charmingly occupied my home and my head. Perhaps one of the hazards of the academic life is to be looking constantly to the past to mine meaning and project the future, missing too much of the texture of the moment. Smart as we college and university folks know we are, we sometimes need dogs to remind us that is not wise. As Mark Doty’s poem “Golden Retrievals” puts it, with his dog addressing him:”

“Either you’re sunk in the past, half our walk,
thinking of what you can never bring back,

or else you’re off in some fog concerning
—— tomorrow, is that what you call it? My work:
to unsnare time’s warp (and woof!), retrieving,
my haze-headed friend, you.”

Read more about how dogs have helped Reilly in his life and career by checking out the full essay at

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