Professor Emerita of Communication Studies Agnes Doody, Hon. ’08
Professor Emerita Agnes G. Doody, 93, died in Wakefield, R.I., on April 28, 2023. She inspired and enlivened URI for 45 years. Known for wearing purple, coiling her hair in a crown, and driving a pair of Mercedes-Benz cars with “TALK” and “TALK2” as license plates, Doody was staunchly committed to her students’ success and well-being.
Doody grew up on a 400-acre farm in North Branford, Conn. She milked cows, was a crack shot with a rifle and camera, and in 1946 became the first female to win the State Meat Animal Fair. During World War II, she was an airplane-spotter, until officials discovered she was only 15 and had lied about her age. She did not hesitate to tell people she was expelled from Central Connecticut State College (now university) for hitchhiking. She enrolled at Emerson College in Boston, where she was a self-described underachiever placed on academic probation. But she graduated and ultimately earned a doctorate from the Pennsylvania State University.
Doody began teaching at URI in 1958 and quickly earned accolades 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 and “only” a woman, she threatened to have her marriage annulled and take out a newspaper ad describing the unjust treatment. She protested other unfair actions of every type.
In 1967, Doody founded and chaired URI’s Department of Speech. Thanks to her work and advocacy, communication studies became one of the most popular majors at URI. In 1980, she received the URI Foundation & Alumni Engagement Excellence Award for Teaching.
“Dr. Agnes Doody was a legendary and outstanding professor who did everything possible to help students become all they were capable of being,” said Winifred Brownell, dean emeritus of the College of Arts and Sciences. “A force of nature who advocated for people, causes, and programs, Agnes was not afraid of conflict or authorities who told her no. I knew she was ready for battle when I would see her in her purple pantsuit holding her purple pen while striding with vigor into a college or Faculty Senate meeting. She courageously fought to unionize faculty, insisted on equal rights for women and people from underrepresented groups, and encouraged students to become responsible global professionals. Her marvelous sense of humor could diffuse even challenging situations. Agnes was a brilliant public speaker, avid reader, and talented chef and gardener. Above all, she helped people’s dreams come true.”
Gifts in her memory can be made to the Agnes G. Doody Scholarship Fund at alumniportal.uri.edu/Doody