Sister M. Dorothy Browne, OP, PhD

Sister M. Dorothy Browne, OP, PhD

When Sister Dorothy Browne, OP, PhD, became Barry’s first president in-residence in 1963, she was no stranger to the college. She served as academic dean from 1946 to 1957 and guided a development plan that led to the creation of the nursing program in 1953 and the graduate degree program in 1954. The School of Social Work was also established during her tenure and the opening of the Monsignor William Barry Memorial Library and the Wiegand Science Center.

An absolute commitment and belief in the benefit of education not only to the individual but society as a whole was the guiding force in Sister Dorothy’s life. “When I was 5, I didn’t just say I wanted to become a teacher, I said I wanted to become a ‘sister teacher,’” she said upon being appointed Barry’s third president.

Born in Chicago and the youngest of nine children, Sister Dorothy attended Chicago Teachers College and the University of Chicago before joining the Dominican order at age 24. After receiving both her master’s and doctorate in education from Catholic University in Washington, D.C., she taught elementary school in Illinois and Michigan. She headed the education department at Siena Heights College in Adrian, Michigan, before coming to Barry to direct the education department in 1942.

Sister Dorothy’s commitment to higher education extended beyond the Barry campus throughout the state of Florida. She was the first female member of the College and University Commission of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and the secretary of Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida. She also served on the Commission on Religion in Higher Education. She was the first recipient of the Lumen Christi Award of the Archdiocese of Miami Catholic Teachers Guild and received awards from the National Conference of Christians and Jews, among other organizations.

After 25 years of service to Barry College, Sister Dorothy tendered her resignation writing, “I think this great institution will be moved forward more effectively by a younger person, well-qualified to direct the Barry College community as we strive in new ways to attain the ideals our Founders held in their vision.” Modestly, she did not mention the enormous role she had played in advancing that vision. Sister Dorothy eventually retired to the Adrian Dominican Life Center in Adrian where she died on March 30, 1997.


The stories below are from (edited for anonymity) Barry University students who were in need of financial aid and scholarship assistance.

“To my surprise I received this wonderful letter in the mail congratulating me on being one of the Sister Dorothy Browne Scholarship Award recipients. I was speechless. I am truly thankful for this award and it will ease some pressure off financially.”

“It is an honor to have been selected and I intend to uphold my responsibilities as this year’s recipient. My children, family, friends and co-workers are as excited as I am. Please express my appreciation to the Alumni Association Board of Directors and the members of the Alumni Association.”

“I consider this a very high honor that has been bestowed upon me and I truly appreciate it and understand the responsibility that comes with such an honor. I intend to live up to the expectation and standard that been set for me through strong academics and continuing active participation within Barry and Alumni Relations by extension.”