Professor Made Dreams Come True

May 21, 2010

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on June 5 at Mary Baldwin’s Miller Chapel. Burial services will be held in Corinth, Kentucky.

Imagine spending your junior year in Madrid, one of Spain’s most culturally diverse and beautiful cities. It would be a year spent living with Spanish families, eating Spanish food, being invited to parties and weddings thrown by professors, exploring the country’s art and architecture, and learning from some of the most respected professors in Spain, all for the purpose of absorbing the Spanish language and culture.

Sounds like a fantasy doesn’t it? Dorothy Mulberry made this dream become a reality for many lucky Mary Baldwin University women.

Mulberry, who passed away May 18 at the age of 82, taught Spanish and international studies at Mary Baldwin for 36 years and served as dean of the college for five years. When the news of her death reached her former students, it became clear that she had created a legacy all her own.

Mulberry came to Mary Baldwin in 1958 with a mission: to develop and promote international studies. She firmly believed that these areas of study were too insular and needed to expand beyond the Mary Baldwin campus. In 1962, with the support and vision of then-Mary Baldwin president, Dr. Samuel Spencer, Mulberry created the Academic Year in Madrid. It was a program of the highest excellence, conducted by the best professors in Spain, and it wasn’t just limited to Mary Baldwin women.

“There would not have been a program if it wasn’t for Dorothy,” said Mary Pickett Craddock ’65. “She created a community of professors and students that was the finest junior year abroad learning environment that I have heard of.”

The women who participated in the Year in Madrid program came away with so much more than an increased awareness of the Spanish vocabulary and global issues. Their experiences changed many of their lives forever.

“I met my husband, Manuel Cordero, in our program,” said Harriet Lane Cordero ’75. “He and another student from Haverford College were part of our program. For 10 years after graduation, I worked for an international bank, traveling Spain and South America, and my success had a lot to do with my year in Madrid. Our love for Spain lives on today, and we try to return as often as possible.”

When asked what the big deal about her year in Spain was, Anne McGeorge Mickerson ’69, told her children, “My year in Madrid was a year when I was completely carefree, when I learned how much fun it was to dig deeply in exploring another culture, when I gained much self-confidence by not only learning another language and culture but by forming lasting friendships there, and finally, when I came home with a sense that my life was going to be much more exciting than I have ever imagined.”

For Meredith Carter Patterson ’65, the year she spent in Madrid is still impacting her today. “My daughter married a wonderful fellow from Barcelona. They have an 8-month-old boy, my grandson, who will grow up speaking English, Catalan, and Spanish and will be living in Spain for at least the next 16 years,” she said. “I think if it had not been for the program that Miss Mulberry set up, my daughter would probably be living in the United States, and she probably would have married an American. Her husband is a great guy, and I am very grateful to Miss Mulberry for all she did for us.”

Mulberry certainly holds a special place in the hearts of all the students who spent a year in Madrid with her. To that end, many of them came together in 2004 to establish the Dorothy Mulberry Travel Scholarship to help students interested in the Spanish language and culture to study abroad.

“Many, if not most, of us feel that our year in Madrid was the most significant event in determining our future direction in life,” said Sara Jane Hartman ’65. “The Dorothy Mulberry Scholarship grew out of gratitude for such a valuable opportunity, which, to my knowledge, has not been equaled. It was dedicated and presented at a banquet when approximately 15 of us returned to Spain with Dorothy for a reunion.”

“Dorothy was dedicated to her students and to Mary Baldwin University. She served both with excellence and devotion. She had a deep love for Spain and the Spanish people and always missed them,” Hartman said.

Friends who wish to make a contribution in Mulberry’s memory may give to that scholarship by designating “Dorothy Mulberry Scholarship” c/o Office of Institutional Advancement, P.O. Box 1500, Mary Baldwin University, Staunton VA 24402.