Development & Alumni Relations Office 

Dr Dorothy Eagleson Phd 1958, MA 1948, BA 1946 (died August 2010)

(obituary by Margaret Donaghey, Queen’s Women Graduates)

It is with sadness that I have undertaken to record something of what Dorothy has contributed to the Queen’s Women Graduates’ Association (QWGA).  Sadness because Dorothy will not see our tribute nor realise the high regard in which she was held.

Dorothy left Richmond Lodge to study at Queen’s, where she followed her primary degree by further study which led to the award of a Doctorate.

Membership of QWGA meant that Dorothy never really left Queen’s.  Committed as she was throughout her career to the need for educational guidance and information on education and training opportunities for men and women over the age of nineteen, it is easy to understand her enthusiasm for the QWGA Scholarship for mature women, normally over the age of 25, returning to education and enrolled on a Queen’s University award-bearing course.  She gave out leaflets at Open Evenings in Queen’s, placed leaflets in libraries and Post Offices, and in particular, liaised with the Educational Guidance Service for Adults (ESGA) to promote the scholarship as widely as possible.  When interviewing potential candidates she liked to enquire how they learned about the QWG scholarship so that publicity could be successfully targeted.  Dorothy served until her death on the QWG Scholarships Sub-committee.

It was through Dorothy and her great friend Clare MacMahon that the Scholarship Sub-Committee was invited to administer the Millennium Award on behalf of the Lifelong Learning Trust.  The task was to find nut more than three women studying at Queen’s, to share over £1000.

A prolific supporter of charities Dorothy was drawn to the Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund (VGIF) which seeks to improve the lives of women and children in underdeveloped countries.  On learning of Dorothy’s death, Fay Kittleson (VGIF) wrote to honor Baird:

‘I am so sorry to hear of Dorothy’s passing last week.  What a loss for her friends in the Irish Federation and also for VGIF.  Dorothy became a contributing member of VGIF in 1993 and gave loyally and generously, with her last contribution coming just this past March’.

A huge interest of Dorothy was the promotion of literacy for adults.  Without literacy skills, men and women could not return to education.  She was delighted when in 1975, the BBC produced the ‘On the Move’ programme which adults could ring to be referred to local literacy organisers who would like to make arrangements for their learning.  In October of 1975 when the first programme was due to be broadcast Dorothy believed the demand would be overwhelming and sought the help of fellow members of the QWGA to answer incoming calls and record details of each potential leaner and volunteer tutor.  She had a continuing interest in this work serving on co-ordinating bodies which promoted literacy e.g. The Adult Literacy and Basic Education Committee.

Dorothy took a close interest in the production of the Annual Report of the QWGA.  June Meenagh-Smartt writes, ‘when I edited the Annual Report Dorothy was of invaluable help.  She was a meticulous proof reader and no spelling mistake or wandering comma ever escaped her.’

It is obvious to me as I write this tribute that the different interests I have highlighted are not separate.  They are lined by Dorothy’s desire to improve the lot of the disadvantaged adults whether at Queen’s, in Northern Ireland generally, or worldwide through the Virginia Gidersleeve International Fund.  She valued her connections at Queen’s with fellow graduates who benefited from her wide experience, goodwill and encouragement.

A tribute to Dorothy Eagleson

(obituary by Oonagh Johnston,  Former Convenor of QWGA Scholarship sub-committee And QWGA President in 1996)

Dr Dorothy Eagleson was a staunch advocate for Adult Education and was involved in the Educational Guidance Service of Northern Ireland.  She was also chair of the National Association for Educational Guidance for Adults and took an active part in the European Year of Lifelong Learning, The National Year of Reading, Literacy Campaigns, and the Forum for Community Education.

As a member of the Queen’s Women Graduates’ Association, she pin-pointed the need for a helping hand to Mature Women students endeavouring to enter Queen’s after leaving school with little or no qualification.

Dorothy was a founder member of the QWGA Scholarship sub-committee which took three years of negotiations with the Academic Council, Legal and Financial experts and Social Services to name but a few, in order to set up a scholarship within the parameters required.  The first scholarships were awarded in 1996 and have continued since that time.

Those members of committee over the years were privileged to serve with Dorothy who was so enthusiastic about the scholarship and happy to give guidance and advice when asked.  She will be missed.

Dorothy was involved also in the Association for Recurrent Education; the aims of which were to propound the need for Lifelong Learning.  When this was wound-up finally the remaining funds were given to assist adult learners in Northern Ireland.  Dorothy immediately thought of establishing a Millennium Scholarship and that task would be undertaken by the QWGA sub-committee – quite an honour for the hard working members.

Dorothy worked tirelessly to improve the lot of those who had lost out on formal education in their early years and endeavoured to give them a second chance.

She certainly took to heart the motto of the Belfast Coat-of-Arms

‘pro tanto quid retribuamus’

And gave back so much more in return for her own education.

A suitable memorial for such a crusader.




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