Legendary Ursinus professor remembered

William Wehrs


On March 28, 2019, legendary Ursinus History professor Dr. S. Ross Doughty passed away after battling ALS. He retired in the Spring of 2018 after a 43 year teaching career at Ursinus, but his history at the school began in 1964, when he was a first year-student. While at Ursinus, he was one of the first students to be inducted into the Tau chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. During his tenure as professor of history, he received multiple awards, including the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1980 and 1993. Additionally, he was the co-leader of the Ursinus in Tübingen program, helped start the East Asian studies minor, and was the co-leader of the summer study in Japan program.

“Dr. Doughty’s courses… were character building.” —Kelly Becker Class of 2010

Doughty’s passing elicited passionate responses from colleagues and former students alike. “Ross was a model of integrity for me, as my professor, as a fellow Ursinus alum, and as a loyal, brave friend. His extraordinary influence will be with me always,” said Rebecca Jaroff, Associate Professor of English. Doughty seemed to possess a unique gift for making his colleagues feel valued. “Any time I had a question, we would sit down, chat about it, and [he] made me feel validated, even if he critiqued me. Not just validated, but capable. Don’t worry. You are here for a reason,” Edward Onaci, Assistant Professor of History, said. One of the ways he did this, was always being willing to listen to the words of colleagues: “[He was] a patient and generous mentor who never seemed bothered by my many questions,” said Dr. Lori Daggar, Assistant Professor of History.

“When I started cautiously bringing up new ideas for the department, he always was fully enthusiastic and supportive,” said Dr. Throop, Associate Professor and Department Chair of History. “I always felt that he appreciated my perspective and my ideas, and he definitely made it possible for me and for us to do new things, rather than just the ‘same old.’ He made room for me to be different and yet still valued, and he did that for everyone, and it was trans-formative.”

This ability to make people feel valued translated to his students as well. “His belief in me made me want to start working hard for what I love… history,” Tyler Daniel Lachman said.

“Dr. Doughty’s courses and expectations were character building. He cared deeply about his history students, I’m so lucky to have been one of them. He believed in me, I can’t explain how important that still is to me,” Alumnus Kelly Becker said.

Dr. Doughty was passionate about sports. “Another thing that stands out in my mind is his love for the Phillies,” Daggar said. “My office is located right beside Margie Connor’s office, and I was privy to a lot of sports smack talk.”

Of course, his other passion was history, and that passion always shone through to whomever he encountered. Daggar says Doughty’s knowledge was “encyclopedic.” “He was an unceasing source of information on everything from Nazi Germany … to human psychology, and I relied on his wisdom and guidance more than I ever realized,” Jaroff said. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 4, at 1 p.m. in Bomberger Hall, with a reception to follow in Myrin Library. Memorial contributions may be made to the ALS Hope Foundation or the S. Ross Doughty ’68 Endowed Scholarship at Ursinus College.