Who wears the color purple, coils her hair in a gold crown, and drives a pair of Mercedes-Benzes with license plates TALK and TALK2?
It’s Agnes G. Doody, 80, professor emerita of communication studies, who recently delivered the first lecture at dedication ceremonies of the newly-named Agnes G. Doody Auditorium in Swan Hall. “I’m absolutely overwhelmed by this,” Doody said of the celebration in her honor. “I didn’t see it coming, and I’m very humbled by it all. It really blew me away!”
Former students, faculty and fans of the legendary professor attended the Oct. 29 dedication: “Agnes Doody has the unique ability to make you reach higher than you ever imagined you could,” said her former student Doug Rubinstein ’68.
Born in 1930, Doody grew up on a 400-acre farm in North Branford, Conn. She milked cows, was a crackerjack rifle shot, and in 1946 became the first female to win the State Meat Animal Fair when exhibiting her cattle. During World War II, she was an airplane-spotter until officials discovered she was only 15 and had lied about her age.
Doody admits that she was expelled from Central Connecticut State College for hitchhiking. She then enrolled at Emerson College in Boston, where she was a self-described underachiever placed on academic probation. Nonetheless, she graduated and ultimately received a doctorate from Penn State.
Doody began her URI teaching career in 1958 as director of Forensics, Department of Speech and Theatre—one of only 61 women in a faculty of 400. She quickly earned notice for a uniquely effective teaching style, along with an ability to ride a bicycle in high heels.
When denied a raise because she was married, she threatened URI President Fran Horn that she would have her marriage annulled and take out a newspaper ad explaining why.
She is currently a speech and communication consultant at Arthur Associates in Wakefield, R.I., a company she founded in 1988.
Contributions to the Agnes G. Doody Scholarship support student scholarships in the Harrington School of Communication and Media. For more information, contact Thomas Zorabedian at 401.874.2853 or firstname.lastname@example.org
By Marcia Grann O’Brien