Dorothy McKenna Brown, Ed.D.

9th President of Rosemont College 1979 - 1991


A Pennsylvanian, Dorothy McKenna Brown became not only Rosemont’s ninth president but its first lay president in the college’s fifty-five year history. She received her B.S. in Biology from College Misericordia in Dallas, Pa.; her M.S. in Biology from Villanova University, and her Ed.D. in Science Education from the University of Pennsylvania.

Dorothy Brown, a mother of two young daughters at the time, came to Rosemont after seventeen years of teaching and administrative positions at nearby Cabrini College: Biology Professor and Academic Vice President. Encouraged by her husband and children, Dorothy was attracted to Rosemont which had remained an all-women’s college, something that she whole heartedly supported.

Dorothy Brown’s twelve-year administration reached out to all alumnae for support when she initiated a capital campaign in 1982, raising $ 8.3 million. She believed in productive shared governance; the REAP program for non-traditional aged students; student seminars by successful alumnae; and leadership training programs. As Dorothy wrote for the 1996 Spring-Summer issue of RECORDS of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia, “the challenge... to deepen and sustain the religious character of Rosemont; to help the students find the intersection of the intellectual and the spiritual”.

Academically, new majors and certificate programs were begun, including the college’s first Graduate Program. Rosemont College was then recognized annually as one of the top ten regional arts colleges in the country. In 1990, Dorothy oversaw the renovation of the McShain Auditorium which was renamed The McShain Performing Arts Center; the Science Hall refurbished completely with a $4 million dollar grant from the Connelly Foundation. At the time of her retirement from the presidency, the science building was renamed The Dorothy McKenna Brown Science Building.

Dorothy Brown’s abilities were widely recognized. In 1983, she served as chair of the Commission for Independent Colleges and Universities in Pennsylvania (76 Institutions). In 1989, she served as a delegate from the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities to a Vatican meeting on higher education, called by Pope John Paul II. She was the only lay woman among a delegation of 125 educators from 40 countries. In 1990, she was chosen as a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania. The recognition was two-fold: for a woman who had distinguished herself both professionally and as a volunteer in service to others; she was chosen by her peers for exemplary work in serving her community and bringing recognition to Pennsylvania.

Dorothy McKenna Brown retired in 1991, having the second longest tenure as President, twelve years. Since then, she has served as Interim President for two institutions, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Allegheny University as well as Senior Associate of the Kaludis Consulting Group. Currently, she serves as a Director for Catholic charities of Philadelphia-Catholic Social Service, and with time to spare volunteers at St. Malachy School in Philadelphia and serves on its Advisory Board.