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After 7 Decades, Manhattanville Says Goodbye to Sister Dowd

After graduating from Manhattanville College in 1940 Sister Ruth Dowd dedicated the next 70 years to education.

One of Manhattanville's most familiar faces will move off of school grounds this weekend, taking more than 70 years of Manhattanville memories and history with her.

Sister Ruth Dowd, 92, will be joining the community of retired Religious of the Sacred Heart in Albany, leaving her position at Manhattanville after a lengthy career as a faculty member and innovator in the field of education. 

After graduating from Manhattanville in 1940—when the school was the College of the Sacred Heart in Harlem—Ruth joined the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. She later accepted a position with the school's philosophy department in 1949, teaching students for 18 years.

"I definitely identified with Manhattanville," Dowd said Thurday during a ceremony held on campus in her honor. 

In 1967 the educator returned to Harlem in order to "reconnect with public education," she said. She spent 16 years there, starting a preparatory school before returning as Manhattanville's Dean of Adult and Special programs in 1983.

In the years since Dowd has been instrumental in creating programs from starting the School of Graduate and Professional Studies at Manhattanville to creating a Masters of Arts and Writing program, which she calls her greatest accomplishment at the school.

She has lived on the Manhattanville campus in the years since, brightening the days of faculty, students and staff with her quick-wit and humor.

"I was never bored I'll tell you that," she said Thursday to a gathering of faculty, administrators, friends and former students who gathered in her honor. "I hope you keep up the spirit of the college as it was at its very best."

Dorothee Riederer November 17, 2011 at 01:57 AM
Sister Dowd was our beloved warden from 1962-1966. She guided our rather rambunctious class through the turbulent early sixties with her puns, her straight-from-the-hip advice (I still wake myself from my sleep-befuddlement each morning with a splash of cold water on my face), and her heartfelt compassion which her sarcasm could not quite hide. She was our sanctuary and our strength when the world felt like it was falling apart: The Bay of Pigs, brutal civil rights demonstrations, Kennedy's assassination and the murder following it that we saw live on TV, and, one of the hardest of all, the endless horrors of Viet Nam. Most importantly, she instilled in us the moral dictum of her own example: to stand up for what we believed in and to dedicate our lives to the service of others. Thank you, Sister Dowd. I hope we have made you proud.

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