Phi Kappa Psi, Baird honor Brown ahead of retirement
It’s no understatement to say that Dorothy Brown casts a long shadow when it comes to education in Greencastle.
Brown was the first African American to teach in Greencastle schools, a one-time principal of Ridpath School, assistant dean and director of minority affairs at DePauw University, education professor at the university and even spent two terms on the Greencastle School Board.
Never mind her accomplishments elsewhere, which include multiple degrees and endorsements, teaching in Gary, serving as principal in Warren Township School in Indianapolis and even holding an administrative post at St. Mary-of-the-Woods College.
For the last 26 years, though, Brown has been able to have her most direct impact on young people as the housemother for the DePauw chapter of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity.
Now in her mid-80s, Brown has decided to retire even from that last post, though it will not take effect until the end of the 2019-20 school year.
In the meantime, the men of Phi Kappa Psi, both past and present, decided it was appropriate to give Dorothy “Mom” Brown the kind of send-off she deserves.
Earlier this month, they did just that with a celebration of Brown at Laurel Hall, the Phi Kappa Psi national headquarters located in Indianapolis.
“It was an incredible evening in Indianapolis honoring Dorothy Brown,” 2004 DePauw graduate Brandon Sokol said. “More than 150 people attended many from across the country to say thanks to ‘Mom’ Brown as she enters her final year as house mother.”
Perhaps the most compelling speaker of the night, aside from Brown herself, was a DePauw graduate who wasn’t even a Phi Kappa Psi member.
Instead, it was 1959 graduate and former astronaut Joe Allen — a Beta Theta Pi — who spoke of his experience living under the tutelage of Brown’s father Oscar, who served as the Beta house dad for 39 years.
Besides honoring her with a dinner, Phi Kappa Psi has established the Dorothy Brown Chapter House Operating Fund, which will be used to enhance the Rockpile that houses the Dorothy Brown Dining Hall.
Donations to the fund will also be matched dollar for dollar by the house proprietary fund to offer Brown a retirement bonus.
Beyond the honors from the fraternity, though, Brown was also honored in Congress.
On Friday, June 21, Congressman Jim Baird of Greencastle addressed his fellow members, reading a short message in honor of Brown that included a brief list of her accomplishments.
“Whether during her time as an elementary school teacher or fraternity housemother, she exemplified leadership and compassion, and I am proud to call her a fellow Hoosier,” Baird said. “On behalf of the Fourth District of Indiana, I thank her for her dedication to her community, and I wish her the very best in retirement.”