Notre Dame selects interim president Baltimore native to lead the college for one year

April 09, 1996|By David Folkenflik | David Folkenflik,SUN STAFF

The College of Notre Dame of Maryland turned to one of its own to lead the Baltimore Catholic women's school for a year, naming a Georgetown University history professor with strong campus ties to be interim president.

Trustees selected cultural historian Dorothy M. Brown -- a Baltimore native who is enough of a "homer" that she still returns to town for flowers and haircuts -- to succeed Sister Rosemarie Nassif. During her professional career, Dr. Brown has shuttled between Notre Dame and Georgetown: After attending Notre Dame's secondary school, she was a scholarship student at the College of Notre Dame, graduating in 1954.

"I still love the Orioles," Dr. Brown said yesterday. "I still have trouble when I see the Colts horseshoe on another helmet, and I'm trying to get used to the Ravens."

She went to Georgetown for her doctorate in history and taught at Notre Dame for several years. In 1966, she returned to the Washington campus as a professor, where she was hailed for her teaching but also served in several administrative roles as one of the few women on the faculty.

"Notre Dame is very lucky," said the Rev. Robert B. Lawton, dean of Georgetown's liberal arts college. "She understands people. She understands the ideals of an educational institution."

Under no circumstances, Dr. Brown said, will she be a candidate to take her alma mater's presidency on a permanent basis. The college has always selected a member of its governing order, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, and Dr. Brown, 63, is a lay faculty member. She will be given a year's leave by Georgetown, she said.

Sister Rosemarie announced during the winter she will step down this summer after four years as president. Although she said it was a decision made on her own, her resignation followed intense internal opposition from some Notre Dame faculty members.

In announcing Dr. Brown's selection yesterday, campus officials pointed to her experience on committees for the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, the organization that accredits campuses once every 10 years, making them eligible for federal student aid. Notre Dame must write a self-study for its review by the association next year.

In a statement, Sister Christine Mulcahy, chairwoman of the college's board of trustees, said: "Colleagues consider Dr. Brown an outstanding teacher, an accomplished scholar and an experienced administrator who leads by example and conviction."

Dr. Brown said the challenge is exciting. Trustees "want the institution to move forward. They have a lot of plans," Dr. Brown said. "I'm there for one year, and that gives everybody time to search for a new president."

Pub Date: 4/09/96

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