Header Image - Ouida Dickey

Overwhelming response to a giving challenge honoring the 90th birthday of Berry icon Dr. Ouida Word Dickey (50C, FFS) resulted in more than $570,000 in gifts benefitting the Ford Auditorium renovation and restoration.

Family, friends, colleagues and former students received double credit for their generosity thanks to matching support from the challenge gift of a very generous anonymous donor. Many supporters joined the longtime faculty member and administrator at a special July birthday reception in the living room of Berry’s alumni center, located in the historic Ford Buildings. Another ceremony followed in early October, at which time the living room officially was named in her honor.

“It’s a very meaningful place for me,” said Dickey, who knew the room as a library when a student in the late 1940s. “I finished growing up there, reading and studying. Then when the alumni center was established (in 2003), it became the gathering place for so much important work in the interest of students and the institution.”

Dickey provided direction for that work during her two years as Alumni Council president, which climaxed a half-century of near-continuous service to her alma mater. The Berry double major in English and business joined the faculty in 1956, beginning a 43-year career in which she distinguished herself as an educator, mentor and administrator.

Upon retirement, she was granted the title of professor of business and dean of academic services emerita in recognition of her achievements. She is also a recipient of the Berry Alumni Association’s Distinguished Achievement Award and, in 2009, made history as the first Berry College graduate to be awarded an honorary doctorate from the institution.

Her family is deeply rooted in Berry history. Her late husband, Garland (42C), pioneered the college’s athletic program along with his brother, Ed (41C), while daughters Angela (75A, 79C) and Jennifer (77A, 80C) followed in their mother’s and father’s footsteps as recipients of Distinguished Alumni Awards, for achievement and service, respectively.

Jennifer, who now serves as Berry’s campus preservationist in addition to her work as a history professor at Kennesaw State University, was awed by the outpouring of generosity.

“Like so many students of her generation, coming to Berry changed Mom’s life,” Jennifer said. “And she has spent the rest of her life making sure that Berry continued to be a place that changed people’s lives. It’s a great honor to have such a beautiful, historic space named after Mom.”

Jennifer is equally pleased that the birthday challenge will benefit the planned renovation of Ford Auditorium as a first-class recital hall for students, faculty and the wider community. That facility, like her mother, turned 90 in 2018.

“I’m glad these gifts will help to preserve and renew this historic building,” she said. “Mom attended so many events there during her time as a student, as did our family. I still recall a presentation by Maria von Trapp (whose story provided inspiration for The Sound of Music). It’s a special place.”

This is the second successful giving challenge to be completed in support of the Ford Auditorium renovation. The first, a $300,000 challenge by Berry parents Rick and Barbara Gaby, spurred early support for the project. Fundraising continues with a goal of completion in 2019. Visit www.berry.edu/gift to contribute today.