Please note: Some posts have been edited for brevity and clarity.
I served as an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow in Academic Administration at Goucher in 1982, working with Rhoda, Julie Collier, and Jim Billet, as well as Susan Foose. It was a wonderful learning experience. Among the projects I worked on were research on women's colleges that had become co-ed and on-campus wellness programs. Rhoda and I sustained a friendship throughout the rest of her life. I have very fond memories of her and all the people with whom I interacted at Goucher.
When I was looking at colleges, I heard many college presidents make their speech to prospective students. One female college president talked about "my girls." But Rhoda talked about "today's women." I was sold right then that I would come out being able to take on the world. Thanks Rhoda, you delivered and then some!
Jenifer Mitchell Reed '86
I remember the great party when Rhoda was named interim President of Goucher. I think it was 1973 and my sophomore year. She was dancing around the courtyard with champagne in her hand and I had the distinct memory that apparently great things can still happen to you at such an advanced age. (I think she was mid - 40's then ;-) )
Catherine Hanks '76
It was "Dr. Dorsey" when she was our house mother at Alcock, where I lived during my two years at Goucher. I wanted to get a degree in nursing, so I transferred to Columbia after two years at Goucher. I never had the "challenge" of taking one of her courses!
What I remember most is attending her luncheons for Goucher alumnae when she made her annual visits to Florida, where my husband and I lived. She got to know my husband, too, and it was always a joy to hear her speak and have "casual" conversation time with her. When we were in Timonium each summer, we would often run into her, and yes, she never forgot who we were. What a blessing she was for Goucher. Weren't we all lucky!
Sally Garrison Thomas '61
Way back mid-fifties, Rhoda Dorsey spent several hours of her incredibly busy life listening to this drop-out's sad tales of woe, following which she enabled me to make a clear, sensible plan for a manageable future. Over the following years, she followed up with warm notes of encouragement.
Pat Thomas (non-degree) '54
Rhoda Dorsey broke my image of spinsterhood by being herself. It was not a failure to marry, it was the freedom to be who she was as a higher priority, with no apology. She also presented the single most outstanding course in my Goucher career and that learning is so internalized that I carry that map and the sense of 'one world' with me where ever I go. No other experience has touched me so profoundly. Even Google Maps cannot reach that level of impact. Her genius was to integrate all the senses. And that probably is reflected in her approach to teaching, being a housemother of Dulaney house, and being Gourcher's president. All my contributions to Goucher are in her honor and now in her memory. Dr. Brownlee Sands Corrin, my beloved major advisor, alone shares that honor.
Roberta Williams '65
Those of us who majored in history and had Rhoda as a professor remember that she absolutely did not tolerate gum chewing in her class and would make the guilty party place the chewing gum on her nose for the duration of the class. I happened to be in the library and I heard an awful sound--cracking gum--coming from the carrel area. When I peeked, who did I see? You guessed it: Dr. Rhoda Dorsey, chewing away.
Caroline Cooper Piven '61
Rhoda was a tremendous inspiration to me, and were it not for her, I doubt I'd be a university president today. I was a new faculty member at Goucher in the fall of 1979; my earliest memory is of President Dorsey briskly marching along the campus circle with a jug of wine in her hand, which she herself was lugging to the President's Residence for the new faculty reception that afternoon. Some years later, Dr. Dorsey gave me my first taste of college administration as I served as Director of the First Year Program. Rhoda was my role model--she was tough, fair, and whole-heartedly dedicated to the success of her institution. Rhoda opened doors for me at Goucher, and my decision to become a university president myself had its roots in my interactions with President Dorsey.
Janet Dudley-Eshbach, Ph.D.
President of Salisbury University
Dr. Dorsey taught geography and tested students in the library. She blindfolded them and they each stood on a chair near the physical map. She would put their hands on some part of the map and they had to identify where they were.
Beryl Light Flom '62
Alice and Roger Greif, Rhoda, and I were enjoying supper about four years ago. Of course, conversation ranged from rollicking to thought-provoking. At one point, Roger asked Rhoda a serious question: "Given the length and breadth of your professional, volunteer, and personal experiences, what relationship or event has been of the most significance?"
"Sophie," [her cat] she responded without a moment's hesitation. Everyone knows that Rhoda treasured her sister and brother-in-law, her friends, colleagues and students, and the many volunteer organizations and institutions for which she worked tirelessly and which honored her. But she happily acknowledged the joy of living with a loving cat.
Sally Foley '60
As a history major graduating in the mid-fifties, Rhoda was the best teacher I ever had the privilege to know. She was inspiring, interesting, demanding, and taught us to think, write, be specific, understand the world picture, and present a cogent, pithy, synopsis. She taught us to expect and deliver the best of ourselves.
One specific memory was how she taught us mnemonic devices. Does anyone else remember ASAS RUAP WAGF/I? 57 years later this is still the key to remembering the wars in 18th century Europe, the treaties that ended them, and the counterpart four French and Indian Wars in the colonies. For the many years I lived in Southeast Asia as a Foreign Service spouse, Rhoda was always there as a mentor thru annual Christmas letters and in later years frequent visits. I feel as though I have lost my other mother - she cared deeply and saw the best in us. As I think of Rhoda it reminds me of my paraphrase of that lovely Shakespeare quote: "When she shall die, take her and cut her out in little stars and she will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night."
Edie Coopersmith Bennett '57
I was a History major at Goucher College, with a focus on American, in large part because of Rhoda Dorsey. As a confident, strong woman in charge of a classroom and a master of her subject, she became a role model, even though at the time I had no way of knowing my career path would lead me to teach graduate students at Columbia University and UC Berkeley. I admired her from the beginning, and am sad to say, I never really told her enough how very much I did. As a caring and compassionate instructor, she once called me into her office when I did not do well on a paper she had seen me struggling with in the Julia Rogers Library. At that encounter she taught me how to turn my research into a well-structured paper, how to create and follow a timeline, and ultimately how to write clearly. How can one say "thank you," for that?
I had always wanted to write a book, and when the opportunity to do so finally came my way, it was a book that recounted the little known and remarkable history of the Jewish community of Singapore. I thought of Rhoda several times when writing it and am glad she got to see it before Dr. Eli Velder placed it in the Goucher Library. Her note to me was one of congratulations and delight, but also a comment that she did not ever expect that from me!! So, perhaps my admiration of her at college was largely one-sided.
As a creative teacher, all of us will forever remember her historical geography class with the blindfolded topographical map "feeling" test and the bright red X's on maps if a city was marked on the east instead of the west side of a river. It has made me try to match those high points in my own teaching over the past 30 plus years-- sometime successfully, sometimes not so much. I also remember her creation of "the decade" course. The one I took covered the decade of the American Revolution and years following. That's when I witnessed her passionate devotion to George Washington, and my own fascination with the founding fathers and new interpretations of American History that has lasted over the past 50 years. I also remember Rhoda taking us to the Baltimore Historical Society so that we could read the Federalist Papers one by one -not from a book, but from facsimiles of the actual writings. Perhaps that was the beginning of my fascination with Journalism, the place where I have spent my whole career. I also remember the fear -usually reserved for law school students- of being called on cold in class and not being prepared.
I was thrilled when she was named President of Goucher, knowing that the College would be in good hands for as long as she was in charge. Turns out, that was not exactly true: I did not like it when the school went co-ed, but remember her saying on a trip to California, "We've done the math, and we know how many students will be of college age in 18 years; Goucher may not be able to survive unless we go co-ed." That Dorsey common sense convinced me that there really was no choice. And at my 50th Class Reunion in April, I saw how right she was -the College was as beautiful and as vibrant as I hoped it would be 50 years after my graduation. For taking that unpopular step, all who love Goucher College will always be in her debt.
Joan Bieder '64
I was extremely saddened to hear of the death of Dr. Rhoda Dorsey. She remembered the names of all the students, and took an upbeat, positive interest in everything. There was a recession going on during my undergraduate years, and she was a dynamo at fundraising and navigating the college with a steady and stern hand. I admit, at first, I was rather intimidated by her. I was very eager to return to Oxford University in England where I had spent a magical summer, and so applied for a Rhodes scholarship. Apparently, I was the only one at Goucher who did so that year, and I remember having my interview with President Dorsey at her office. She confessed I was not the best of candidates. I was hardly athletic, I was not head of the student council, my college diet consisted of almost exclusive servings of American and British literature. Plus she chastised me for fluttering my hands while I spoke. But, as she put it, there was no one else, so Goucher sponsored me. Needless to say, I did not get the Rhodes. But, thanks to Dr. Dorsey, something else happened, that was far more magical than I had any right to expect. When I graduated, it was she who sent my Goucher Weekly article about Goucher alumna Sara Powell Haardt (1920) to Sara's relatives in Alabama, who then wrote to me. A door was opened. My first book, Mencken and Sara: A Life in Letters, was based on the collection of the letters between the journalist H. L. Mencken and Sara Haardt Mencken that are at the Goucher library. Although Dr. Dorsey was not sure if they would make a book, when it was published it received a lot of positive attention. From then on, she encouraged me throughout the years with friendly notes. When I left Baltimore in 1994, she and her good friend, Dr. George Foote, gave me a little dinner party at Dr. Foote's apartment: I remember our lively conversation, and how funny, smart and kind both of them were. We kept in touch, off and on, over the decades.
Rhoda Dorsey was of the old school -- generous, smart and exacting, demanding the very best of herself and of all the students who passed through the college. I recognized that as soon as I met her, and appreciated and admired those attributes long after I graduated. Nancy Magnuson said she was a giant. That she was: tireless, intelligent, and wonderful.
Marion Elizabeth Rodgers '81
I have many fond memories of Dr. Dorsey as we called her when we were in class. She was our dorm mother (Froelicher) and her door was always open. She was warm, charming, witty, and supportive. Little did we know that she was only a few years older than we were at the time. Later on, after graduation, she adopted us (we adopted each other) as class advisor along with Brownlee Corrin. She came to almost all of our reunions and was always available for advice and hugs. Personally, she helped me navigate a difficult transition --transfer for one of my daughters to Goucher in her sophomore year. We loved her as a friend, mentor, and advisor. We will miss knowing that she isn't here for advice and joy!
Judy Banker Barrett '57 (class president)
Miss Dorsey... as we referred to her in the late '50's when I was a student (though I did not graduate, I married and moved away)... was an incredible human being. Her classes were unforgettable, as was her personality... I dare say she would have won "teacher of the year" if we could have voted! She is as much a memory of our college years as "the buzzer." We were incredibly fortunate to have known her and she will never be forgotten by anyone in our class (of that I am certain).
Maryann Eros Abrahams '59
After the tumultuous late 60's with campus sit-ins, boycotts, demonstrations, etc..., a group of Student Org. and Academic Honor Society students "kidnapped" Miss Dorsey, then President, with the permission and blessing of Martha Nichols, Dean of Students. We blindfolded her and took her to her house and SAGA provided food for a party. It was all in good fun and appreciation of her patience and understanding of the times.
Rachel Kaltenbach Baumgartner '71
In the fall of 1956 Rhoda was a young history professor, with a keen mind and a marvelous gift for teaching. Rarely did she lecture. Rather, she taught by asking leading questions and by dissecting the student's response. Student: "People said..." Rhoda: "What people said...?" With Goucher's small classes there was no escaping her probing questions. She taught us to think as historians. Over the years since my graduation we stayed in touch. She was my mentor and my friend, and I will miss her very much.
Milbrey Turner Zelley '60
My freshman dorm was Alcock, where Miss Dorsey was faculty advisor, living in the dorm and serving tea and cookies during exam week. Now, years later, she is, of course, Rhoda. But back then, she was Miss Dorsey, terrifying and sympathetic all at the same time. Count me among those who think Goucher will not be the same without her.
Carol Friedman Millman '62
What an incredible woman -she inspired me while at Goucher and in our several opportunities to chat in later years. When she visited in Connecticut, she suggested (urged) that I take a less cautious road -and I am a so much more complete person for her wise council. I am so very saddened to know of her passing -BUT also realize how very many of us are better people because of her presence in our lives.
Gail M. Standish '55
Miss Dorsey (as we called her) was formidable and fabulous. Her Historical Geography course was one of the best I had--putting the US puzzle together in seconds and the dreaded blindfolded test in the library, feeling mountains and oceans and praying you identified them correctly.
I got to know Rhoda when she became President and I attended alumni gatherings in my area. She remembered so many of us at those meetings, and I thought how lucky Goucher was to have her first as a gifted teacher and then a spectacular President.
Tamson Myers Ely '67
The first time I met Rhoda was at Goucher, but I wasn't a student there. At the time (around 1980) I worked for a singing telegram company and was hired to surprise Rhoda with a Birthday Gram. And she sure was surprised when I burst from behind the window curtains, wearing a top hat and toy monkey with cymbals around my neck! She laughed and had such a great time with all the students and others there. As a college dropout from years before I remember thinking, "why can't I be a student at Goucher with this wonderful president who is so adored by her staff and students?" It took almost 15 more years, but I did make it to Goucher in 1994, thanks to the innovative Goucher II program started under Dr. Dorsey's leadership. I would see Rhoda on campus, at events, and after graduating from Goucher in 1999. She was always gracious and interested in what I was doing, talking with me at length even when I was serving her hors d'oeuvres at private parties during my part time catering job. I thanked her many times for her birthday celebration being the catalyst to my Goucher education! I am so glad I had the privilege to know her.
Nancy Abramson '99
That I think of Rhoda now as just that, Rhoda, would have been unthinkable to me when I was a student. She was Dean Dorsey, Miss Dorsey, Dr. Dorsey, never Rhoda, and I was totally intimidated by her. Actually, that--the intimidated part--lingered for years and years. My encounters with the Dean were always occasions for dread, because they always involved the Pennsylvania state legislature's dithering over passing resolutions to continue the state's higher education loan program. While I was the recipient of the enormously helpful Goucher Class of 1909 scholarship, without those state loans I could not stay at Goucher and the Dean wanted to make the precariousness of my situation clear so my family could make other financial arrangements. Now I think she was trying to be clear and candid; then I thought she was callous and cold.
At the end of my senior year (thank you Pennsylvania), Dean Dorsey called me in again, but this time it was to talk about my future. She knew I was going on for an MA in American history and she wanted to know what I was interested in. We just chatted. Whew! I learned she was warm, funny even. She asked me to stay in touch with the college and with her.
The next year, Rhoda steered an opportunity to publish my way. She was too busy to write biographies for Notable Maryland Women, a bicentennial publication--maybe I'd like to do it? She offered to look over drafts. We'd meet for coffee and continued to meet after the project was finished. Rhoda urged me to get my PhD. She wanted to meet my sweetheart, now my husband Rob. She was so kind to my mother. At some point, she told me to call her Rhoda.
Years passed. Her wit never failed. Her criticism of sloppy writing and half-baked ideas never slackened. Every meeting was a treat. I last had dinner with Rhoda in March, when she railed about her walker and told me about the course on British and American history she was about to teach at Broadmeade. Lucky students, I thought--but heaven help them if they ask a mindless question. I also thought, after walking with Rhoda to her door, how sad it would be if Rhoda would become enfeebled, bedridden, if her mind dimmed and her wit left her. She'd hate that. When I got the news of Rhoda's death, I cried a river of tears. But I'm glad that she went when she was still "all there," railing against the Congress and curious about everything.
Kathryn Allamong Jacob '72
As a young alumna about 10 years out, I was touring the National Gallery of Art with a rather rowdy group of friends when I heard a distinctive voice that made me snap to attention. Even though she was out of sight and around the corner, I knew immediately it was Rhoda Dorsey and I instantly was transported back to campus and immediately presented my best behavior. Sure enough, there was Rhoda in her signature suit leading a group of Goucher alumnae on a lifelong learning trip. I was proud for her to see I was also taking in some culture and education and, of course, she took a moment to say hello and to chat. I always felt it was extremely important to do my best for Rhoda - she made us all strive for excellence and I will always be grateful for that.
Ridia Anderson Dearie '79
Rhoda was a lovely, gracious, very bright lady. She made a special effort to remember our names and faces of our Class of 1954 even though we had graduated before she became our President. She will be sadly missed by everyone whose life she touched.
Sharon Trumpe Morris '54
President Dorsey and Student Government President Sally Wood dancing a scene from Swan Lake, complete with tutus. I can't remember why they were doing this but it was memorable.
Margie Simon '75
I recall my days at Goucher College. I was so young and naive. We were not a co-ed institution yet. Rhoda Dorsey was the President and we felt like we were right at home. I will never forget Stimson Teas and all of the things that made the transition to independence easier. Although Goucher was the best kept secret in those days, I treasure the wonderful memories of growing up at Goucher. Rhoda Dorsey is still the face of Goucher to me.
Barbara Taylor Gordon '89
I remember a field trip to DC for Rhoda's Political Science class, which included visits to the Supreme Court, Congress, and a sit-down interview with Barry Goldwater - all of these impressive and special for our small group. She made politics come alive for us!
Margaret (Peg) Albritton '57
When I attended Goucher (class of 1982), Dr. Dorsey always supported the dance department by attending our concerts. She was always kind and encouraging to me whenever our paths crossed. Along with the librarians that I worked with for work study, her encouragement with theirs helped me to get through Goucher to the graduation stage. As she handed me my diploma she whispered to me "now Stephanie try not to leap across the stage". I didn't want to leap because I was floating! Her leadership told me that I had potential, hopes, dreams, and aspirations that would all come true.
Stephanie Powell '82
This inspiration of a woman -overflowing with knowledge of anything and everything- was extraordinarily proud. She laughed til she cried after feeding her Alcock girls luscious treats -treats that were in fact chocolate covered ants and bees or whatever. What a joyous interlude. It's interesting to me that I cannot remember the texture or taste of the creepy crawlies, but just the smile in her eyes.
Ibby Potter Davis '61
She gave up a speaking engagement, arranged quite some time before, to be an honorary pallbearer at my father's funeral (John Luetkemeyer). That had great meaning to me and my family.
Anne L. Stone
In 1967, Rhoda Dorsey was my history professor: a stately, dynamic woman of intellectual power and wit. She was a vibrant teacher who expected the best of us in research, preparation, and thought. Although she challenged us, I never remember her being unkind. Her way of being at the college helped me set my sights high. I was pleased and proud to watch her advance in leadership and accomplish so much for Goucher.
Shelley McCullough Gotterer '71
I was a student in Dr. Dorsey's "Historical Geography" class in Spring, 1960. Halfway through the course, my father died. I still have the note that she sent me at that time.
Betty Ann Brubaker Diefenbacher '60
My HS college advisor, Mr. Schnabel guided me toward Goucher with a Rosenberg Scholarship Audition in Dance. After every concert President Rhoda Dorsey would come back stage and compliment me and bring me flowers. After this one concert, she brought me a book, "Neely." It had a picture of a tall, regal AA woman on the cover with long arms and a long neck. She said that this book reminded her of me. I still have the book.
I danced again for my 25th Reunion. Rhoda came back stage and said to me (as I tear to write this), "Still dancing after all of these years. It is good to see you on this stage once again!"
Just a few months ago, there was a dance concert at Kraushaar Auditorium on the same stage that I performed on 30 plus years earlier. I was told that Rhoda Dorsey was in the auditorium. She and her friend/escort for the evening asked me to join them. I was humbled. She watched the dance pieces with such joy. She hummed along with the music and asked me questions about the student choreographers. We shared a special bond that night. I am proud to have shared that moment with her. I am blessed to have one of her last photos taken with me! If you know me, you know that I never give up. I keep pushing forward even when all things look bleak! This woman is one of the reasons why! Rest my sweet angel! I'll keep dancing like no one is watching! And when you get the chance while in heaven, I hope that you DANCE!
Faye Yvette McQueen '84
Fond memories of a great scholar, teacher, administrator, and friend to all the Goucher community.
Sylvia Lang Weber '65
I went on a southern Maryland spring house tour with Miss Dorsey in her car in 1968 or 1969. I was in awe of her and a bit intimidated by her reputation of being a bit stern, demanding, and expecting the best of each student. I had not had her as a professor personally. I discovered a whole other persona on that long drive.....witty, amusingly insightful, and laugh out loud funny. It was a delightful and memorable day.
Mimi Marshall Catlin '70
I was never Dr. Dorsey's best student, but she was always one of my favorite professors. Later in life, after I had had three children and gotten a graduate degree in Urban Planning at the University of Michigan, I attended a conference on Historic Preservation held at Goucher. At a special luncheon I happened to sit next to Dr. Dorsey who asked questions about my life, and then said, "Well, Adrienne Malley, it does a teacher good to know that you turned out all right after all."
It made my day too!
Adrienne Gallup Malley '62
I didn't have the pleasure of being in one of Rhoda's classes during my time at Goucher, but I know that all of my friends who were in one of her classes had the utmost respect and admiration for her, both as a person and as a teacher. When I attended my 15th class reunion in 1985, Rhoda greeted me by name just as she did my classmates who had been her students. I was most impressed and have not forgotten that special moment and the time I spent visiting with her during that weekend.
Marcia Ramenofsky Dahlberg '70
As a Math major, I had carefully avoided as many History and English courses as I could. So, I first spoke to Rhoda Dorsey as an alumna, at the time of a celebration of some kind, probably a reunion. She gave a talk which I attended, and afterward I summoned the nerve to thank her. I also added that I'd been afraid of her in my undergraduate years. When she found out that I'd been a Math major, she laughed heartily, and said, "You took courses from Dr. Bernstein, and you were afraid of me?!" All of a sudden, the picture changed, and I was afraid of her no longer! She had a point. Yes, Goucher will miss you, Rhoda Dorsey.
Marty McClintock Sippel '70
I remember like it was yesterday- My first true experience away from home was college and Dr. Rhoda Dorsey was my true mentor. About two weeks after being on the campus, I felt a bit alone and so away from home. My family was all in Puerto Rico. She was incredible. She invited me to her home for dinner and cooked Arroz con Pollo, a typical Puerto Rican dish (honestly not my favorite but that evening it was like heaven a true delight). From that night on I knew I had a mentor, a teacher, a counselor, but most importantly, a friend. She taught me to always reach out to those you think need a helping hand.
Rosana M. Roig '78
I remember meeting Miss Dorsey (sorry, I can't bring myself to call her Rhoda) when she accompanied the group of Goucher ladies who graduated on June 5 or 6, 1944. The commencement speaker had been the British Ambassador, who broadly hinted that big things were happening in Europe as he spoke. It was neat seeing Miss Dorsey socially, as a fellow adult, and not as the Dean. She was having such obvious pleasure being in France, and not only loved traveling, but was good at it. I was touched by how kindly she had remembered me, as I was a transfer student to Goucher, doing my last two years there. I joked at how things had changed since I had graduated, and mentioned that in my day, a lady would have never gotten a tattoo. Miss Dorsey looked sternly over the top of her glasses. "Michelle," she replied. "A lady still doesn't get a tattoo."
Michelle A. Mead-Armor '73
I loved her three legged cat. And who will forget blind-folded tests on the relief maps in the library?
Debbie Gwatkin Davies '63
Miss Dorsey, Dean Dorsey, President Dorsey - she was always Big Rhoda to me. As a freshman history major, she was larger than life to me. I was petrified of her and attracted to her at the same time. Her wisdom and her wit amazed me. But it was as President of Student Org during the time of the walk-out over comps that I truly got to know her. Obviously we had our disagreements at that time but Dean Dorsey was always ready to talk and to see what we could work out. She never let our differences become personal and we became friends. I learned so much from her and I will always be grateful to her.
Boo Gibbs Townsend '70
I attended Goucher from 1973-1977 and I was truly grateful to have Dr. Dorsey as my president. She was an inspiration to all of us and I always felt that she had our best interests in mind whether it was the college, the community or the individual. My favorite memory was when we did a Swim-a-thon my senior year (I believe) and I "coached" Dr. Dorsey across the length of the pool in an inner tube with a huge Goucher bull horn! What a great sport she was! What a great asset to our college! You can find photos of this event in the 1977 Donnybrook!
Jill Robinson '77
I have so many wonderful memories of Rhoda. When I was a student she knew me as Virginia Boyle. Later as a faculty member when I was introduced to someone as Dr. Ermer, Rhoda would always chime in, "She is really Dr. Boyle." She got quite a kick out of that!
Virginia Boyle (Ermer) Bott '66
Goucher Assistant Professor of Political Science
Miss Dorsey scared me, at first, demanding that "you can do better." Like others in my class, I remember "Cowboys and Indians" and "Hysterical Geography", standing on the library stepladder trying to remember how to use my hands to measure the distances between New York harbor and the Great Lakes.
But my fondest memories of Rhoda were as an active alumna: at my tenth reunion, her comment was "Did you really graduate, Linda?" ("Yes, in spite of you."); and, in 1986, when I volunteered for a phonathon for the Alumnae/i Association Annual Giving Drive, Rhoda asked me how I was doing. My first husband had just left me and my two teenage daughters and I let my heart bleed to her as an older sister. "Well, he's just stupid!" was the reply that made me feel better, and valuable, and encouraged me to go on.
To me, and many of my classmates, Rhoda Dorsey WAS Goucher; it just won't be the same without her, but weren't we lucky to have had her with us all these years?
Linda Gold Cangin Bennett '63, Management Certificate '79
An American history major, I always felt that I majored in Rhoda Dorsey. She was the part of history I remembered best, her determination, energy, discipline, intelligence, and kindness. Years later I ran into her picking up shells on the beach in Sanibel, Florida. "Are you Miss Dorsey?" I asked. "The Same!" she replied. When I returned for my 50th reunion in 2013, Rhoda remembered me. I was touched. I got to see her in action one last time, keeping the panelists on schedule with joking reminders of time running out. I'm glad she was active almost to the end, the way she would have wanted it.
Kit Smyth Basquin '63
While I did not always see eye-to-eye with President Rhoda Dorsey when I was a student, she was a mentor to me and many others. I am sure that I would not have gone into higher education if it were not for her and the other fabulous faculty whom Goucher introduced me to as a first-generation college student. I remember interviewing Rhoda for various news stories for The Quindecim and, when I asked her something she didn't like, she'd respond with "you're skating on thin ice, Miss Gorelick," (sometimes she'd answer my follow up question with a reply of a loud, "CRACK . . . the ice is breaking, Miss Gorelick. Do you want to continue?"). Rhoda always gave me a timely appointment to interview her for the "Q" (something I now realize very few college presidents do with undergraduate students). When I served on the Goucher College Alumnae/i Board a few years ago, I would see her often at Goucher events and catch up with her. She always remembered me and took time to have a conversation and ask about my life and the lives of other classmates from the first co-ed years. I can't imagine Goucher without her. I will miss not seeing her at a future Goucher event. May she rest in peace after a lifetime of good work.
Risa Gorelick-Ollom '91
Rhoda Dorsey was one of my three professors during my first quarter at Goucher. She taught me how to write a paper. I remember like yesterday a fall afternoon when we sat on a bench outside the library and she patiently showed me what I needed to know about academic writing. The small public school in northwest Florida where I spent my last 2 years of high school had not really prepared me for Goucher's standards. I became an English major and an English/History teacher and her example never left me. I still teach today, part time, in my retirement. She was and is one of my greatest mentors and role models and I will never forget her, nor will I expect many, many other members of the Goucher Community.
Ann Bennett '66
Rhoda Dorsey never accepted any work that did not demonstrate one's best effort. She helped us grow by making sure we always knew how to access the material and how to interpret each assignment. It was because of Miss Dorsey that I decided to teach and enjoyed 35 years as a full-time 6th grade teacher. Thank you!
Bev Ward Docter '62
I never took a formal course with Rhoda but I had the privilege of doing an independent study my last semester at Goucher in French History. It was not very involved but I needed SOME history. I'd managed to spend nearly 4 years at Goucher without a single history course. So..............she offered me that opportunity.
Since it was near the end of my time at Goucher, I made an arrangement to take a final on the material on a certain day and, to my great chagrin and horror, I actually missed the exam. I sheepishly contacted Dr. Dorsey and we arranged a different time for me to take the exam. Years later when I was back at Goucher for a reunion, I saw her and she greeted me with "so the bad penny always turns up again." She said it in jest but I knew I deserved that moniker from her. She was nothing if not straight forward.
Marion Stein '62
One of my great privileges while serving Goucher was to travel with President Dorsey to meet with alumnae and alumni across the US. She provided wonderful and insightful leadership as she related to and interacted with our alumnae and alumni and with everyone connected to the College. She and I would annually travel to Florida for a week or so during the winter (as most college presidents do) to visit with alumnae and alumni there. I recall one year during the long drive between major Florida cities when Rhoda pulled out a pad of paper and, over the course of several hundred miles and much back and forth discussion, sketched out a long-range plan for the second phase of co-education at Goucher. Such was her capacity for broad and strategic thinking. It was my honor and pleasure to plan her travel during her last year as president. We sought to provide as many opportunities as we could for alumnae and alumni across the US to honor and thank her for her extraordinary leadership of Goucher, and for her to connect with and renew friendships with a great many Goucher alumnae and alumni. She was my mentor and I will miss her terribly.
Wesley H. Poling
Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations, 1986-1994
I cannot remember what freshman course I took with Rhoda but my grades on a paper say it all. First paper marked "D." Second paper marked "D+"-Much improved!" I am going to be 70 and I still remember that paper--I have it in my archive somewhere! Many fonder memories of Rhoda when I was Editor of The Goucher Magazine many years later.
She was an indomitable force-there should be more like her!
Leslye Donner Sugar '65
As a freshman in 1993, I arrived at Goucher just as Dr. Dorsey announced her retirement. But, as I learned over time, especially working with the AAGC and Friends of the Goucher Library, Dr. Dorsey remained committed to the school she loved. Her death came as a shock. Right until the end, it seemed that, like Jo Fiske before her, Dr. Dorsey had another few decades of service left. Dr. Dorsey embodies the idea of "Goucher for Life."
Steve Klepper '97, AAGC President
Rhoda had an enormous influence on my life. She inspired me to take all her courses except one, which I could not fit in, even though my official major was political science. She let me attend her history senior seminar and created a lifelong love of history. In addition, she was responsible for my becoming the assistant editor of the William and Mary Quarterly, which set me on a career-long trajectory first in editing and then in marketing communications, albeit software marketing, which didn't really exist when I graduated Goucher. To this day (and I graduated in 1966) I still feel her influence as the first article I ever published while in her 1840s decade class hangs on my office wall.
She was a true inspiration to me in any number of ways and I know many other Goucher grads must feel the same way.
Lynne Marcus '66
I never took any of Rhoda's courses but I do recall classmates who took her historical geography and "cowboys and Indians" class. She was rumored to be a hard marker who believed that the "alphabet begins with C." Everyone who had her as a professor really admired her. I think that she was the epitome of the Goucher professor.
I remember meeting her in the Bay area where I lived in the mid-1980s. She was really charming. We alumnae are truly fortunate to have had such wonderful role models as Rhoda Dorsey. When my two daughters were ready for junior high, I purposely encouraged them to attend an all women school. They were bright girls and I wanted them to excel in an atmosphere where it was acceptable to be smart, i.e. the same atmosphere that I was fortunate enough to encounter at Goucher in the 1960s.
Beth Maged Wegbreit '67
When class started, Dr. Dorsey pulled down the shades and sang The Internationale (this was the early '50s). I believe I heard this but it didn't happen when I was in class. It may have been why I chose her class, though.
Another memory I was certainly there for: She told a Goucher legend that if you went down to the Donnybrook at dawn (or dusk) and were a virgin, you would see a unicorn, but that no student she knew was willing to do it. It was a surprise to me (a most inexperienced 17 years old at the time) that so many would be ineligible for the sighting.
Jane Levy Troy '56
Rhoda was a fabulous professor who played a large role in developing my critical thinking and transformation into a lifetime learner in a far deeper way than I could ever imagine when I entered Goucher.
Mary Cole Dickerman '59
I reconnected with Rhoda Dorsey through her wonderful neighbors, Susan and Stanley Morstein. We also "shared" a trainer, Margo Goudy, at the gym. ("It is never too late girls.") In the course of discussing the topics of the day, I told her about my gardening adventures and promised her some of my first broccoli crop. And so our Ms. Dorsey became the recipient of my spring plantings. I always delivered them in an appropriate gathering basket; after all she was an historian.... She seemed genuinely delighted with my produce and my accompanying botanical drawing.,. and never once suggested that I change my major.
Duffy Askin '66
Over the last 54 years, the Class of 1964 has had the privilege of knowing Rhoda Dorsey. She wore many hats for Goucher College during these decades. Each role fit her very well. As a teacher, dorm resident, dean, president, fundraiser, president emerita, archivist, et al, Rhoda had high expectations for herself and for each of us as individuals and for our institution. Her lofty goals ran head on against the financial challenges of the 80's, and the College survived as our then president, with the support of the board, steered the ship into what became a safe, new, harbor-against the winds of "disagreers"--by becoming co-educational.
Louise "Reddi" Ford '64
For RHODA DORSEY
Mother's Day 2014
I can't think of a better day to pay tribute to Miss Dorsey (as I knew her) than today, Mother's Day. It never occurred to me before, but she "mothered" me, for it was her caring, coming through the twinkle in her eye, that warmed and fired me up. Then her laser-sharp focus pointed me to what she saw, and for that I was made larger. I became both medieval history's lord and serf.... I discovered early, honor-bound agreements; and because of her, I could commiserate when Francis Bacon said, "Enclosure bred a decay of the people." And "Money is like muck, no good unless it is spread around."
Rhoda Dorsey dying so soon after my 50th college reunion (where I came to understand more of who I had been, who I am now and still can be) is extremely important. Some adepts (yes, astrologers!) see 14 days as a single moment, the orb for a planetary conjunction being 8 degrees and its "effect" spanning two weeks. With insight, joy, love and now loss blending so intensely this moment seems almost inexpressibly profound.
Fourteen days ago, fifty 70 year old women fluttered at the prospect of seeing "Dorsey," as one of us called her, again. We'd bask in the sunny smile, never doubting she'd remember each of us, no matter how brief our time with her, like mine, was. All would be well (light and charming), as Elliot said, when the past and the present were one. Now those exchanges must take place in the mind, in the mental landscapes that she was among the first to unveil for me, and to which we have been adding our own knowledge and perhaps wisdom for half a century.
Dr. Dorsey's gift was the gift of whole-seeing. She was the perfect embodiment of the value of liberal arts education, and of the humanities, both reported under siege as information and science technology attract vast numbers of undergraduate majors. But it is the liberal arts and humanities that carry the meaning and values of a civilization, and so propel its destiny. Without them we become robotic, devoid of soul. Rhoda Dorsey's own humanity makes me look at my life again and face this deeply critical hour in history with renewed vigor, hope and gratitude. She, like Lincoln Johnson, help me know that in spite of age or circumstance I can keep on "keeping on" for the kind of "good" history I myself want to leave behind.
She cared, we knew it and that helped us learn, be brave and continue growing. For her twinkling intelligence and myriad abilities we admired her. For her humanity we will always love her.
Andrea "Sabrina" Loomis '64
To Miss Dorsey
I don't remember calling you doctor.
Behind your back, we called you Dorsey.
As in, what did Dorsey give you on your paper?
You would question us
Pulling up our names on index cards.
When I have an answer, it might miss the mark,
But somehow you gave it acceptance.
I remember your flash or anger
Towards a girl who was filing her nails
You demonstrated for me the aggressive stance
One should take towards a book.
Pressing the fold, you ran your finger
Down the table of contents.
Did you really sit in front of us,
Swinging your legs with pleasure?
This is how I remember you.
Kit Voelker Hartman '64
Rhoda Dorsey meant a great deal to me: she could have sliced and diced me many times over, but instead she taught me to write, stimulated my curiosity, made me laugh with her dry humor, inspired me forever with her wonderful commitment to the importance of creating The Questions, and not the answers. I am glad to remember that she visited me when I lived in London and we visited together some old historic "homes," ones a lot like Downton Abbey. I'm very grateful to have sent a note to her before the reunion, in hopes that I might see her again. How I wanted to tell her how I use my American History while sitting and listening to clients tell me their life stories. There has been a way to keep it all alive!
She remains a brilliant light that still sparks my 72-year-old mind and heart!
Love to all-
Pam Butler Schott '64
I remember Dr. Dorsey as the kind lady who interviewed me when I applied to become a transfer student at Goucher in the January of our sophomore year. She told me that it might be very difficult to manage my chores as a then live-in au père and soon to be married woman while trying to carry a full load of Goucher courses. I told her I wanted very much to try. She said, "OK, welcome to Goucher".... I've always been grateful that she let me "try." She had a sanguine soul.
Lynn Ochberg '64
My most vivid memory of Rhoda Dorsey was that she was acting Dean the year I did my underwhelming senior thesis. She asked me into her office to say that the faculty was disappointed in what I'd written and to ask what had happened. I was deeply ashamed of my performance, and this made me feel even worse. I told her that my mother was unhappy about my engagement and forthcoming marriage (she was right, it turned out) and that things had been stressful. She asked me why on earth I hadn't told anyone. I was determined not to cry in front of her--I felt that she was the model of Stiff Upper Lip, and didn't want to disgrace myself with someone I held in such awe--but by this time I was blubbering. I sobbed out, "Because I don't think your personal life should interfere with your academic work." She calmly handed me a tissue and said briskly, "Of course it shouldn't, my dear, but it DOES."
I've never forgotten that. She was so kind, so realistic, and she taught me an important lesson, which I've passed on to students when appropriate by telling them this story.
Ileana Grams-Moog '64
I remember Dr. Dorsey vividly: she was one of my first teachers, first semester, freshman year and what a shock -- good (had never had a teacher like that before) and bad (how could I possibly keep up!) I will always remember her geography classes. Hard to imagine Goucher without her.
Nancy Kane Felcher '64
I have many memories of her and as I sit here grading final exams I remember the rigorous standards she held us to and I fear that grade inflation and retention rate pressures have forced many of us in public universities to abandon (not totally, I hope) that rigor. I got a C in the first course I took from her but thankfully, I got up my nerve to take two more and got As in both--and she got me an internship at Historic Annapolis for the summer after graduation--also a wonderful experience.
Jane Gurganus Rainey '64
I am so sad. She was so much a part of my Goucher life and influenced me humanly and intellectually. She once visited me in France...
Carole Dane '64
She was one special woman and a gift for Goucher. The world is a better place because of her, something I would hope could be said about me after I die, although I am in no hurry to do so.
Lucia Blackwelder Findley '64
I thought her a very powerful force at Goucher in the 60's.
Jane Obst White '64
How sad but what a life well-led.
Connie McKenna Sevier '64
Unlike many, seemingly, I didn't really know "Miss" Dorsey very much apart from the classroom. But that was enough. She was inspiring and intimidating. The courses and the content are gone with the passage of years. What still remains is the time spent diligently learning what she assigned. For Geography, for instance -- in the basement of a building (the Library?) were large jig-sawed pieces of wood, each in the shape of a state in the lower 48. The undertaking was to learn how to assemble the entire United States in a very short designated timeframe. It took much practice to perform this. We spent hours alone in the bowels of the building practicing first recognition, then how they fit together, and then accomplishing the entire accurate assembly at breakneck speed! Another homework requirement was similar. We had to identify a long list of places on raised relief maps -- blindfolded! Fingering our way along mountain ridges, plains and river valleys to recognize and pinpoint the mandatory spots. They were both wonderful and imaginative assignments which we happily performed for her and for ourselves.
Holly Warner '64
I can't help picturing a new greeter at the Pearly Gates--standing firm and demanding that all potential entrants be blindfolded and pass the geography "touch test" before being granted admission!
Sherry Jeffe '64