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Geography Department Receives Major Endowment, Names Map Library In Honor of Donor

January 18, 2013

Dr. Mary T. Dooley, Professor Emerita of Geography at Minnesota State University, Mankato, donated $200,000 to the Minnesota State Mankato Department of Geography. The funds will endow student scholarships and research needs in Geography, with 25 percent dedicated to developing collections of the University Map Library. 

Professor Dooley’s research and teaching focused on understanding historical land use, thus she and her students were regular patrons of the University Map Library. She taught cartography and throughout her career created countless maps documenting socio-economic, demographic and land use change.

To honor the long tradition of documenting change on maps, the Minnesota State Mankato Map Library was named in honor of Professor Dooley in ceremonies on January 18, 2013, in the University Map Library on the Minnesota State Mankato campus. 

Professor Dooley grew up in Michigan, and taught at Michigan State for a year before joining the University of Maryland’s program for teaching military personnel in Europe. She then taught for several years at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana before returning to Michigan State to earn her doctorate. She was the first woman to earn a Ph.D. from Michigan State. Her dissertation documented the geographic challenge of converting government-purchased wilderness into farmland during the early 1800s. The knowledge she gained from her research helped her in later years as she wrote and published her own family’s history. 

In 1966, Dr. Mary Dooley joined the faculty at Mankato State College and began teaching on the lower campus. She served under several different presidents and for one year served as assistant vice president for Academic Affairs. Dooley served as Program Director for a large-scale map series depicting Blue Earth County’s history in the latter 1800s, using surveyor’s records, government land grants, and characteristics of the settlers reported in the 1880 census. At retirement, she was Acting Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. 

Since retiring from the geography department in 1990, she has remained connected to the University and the community. In 1996, she helped start MSU for Seniors, an organization that offers classes to people over fifty-five. During her teaching years and since retirement she has been a consistent and generous supporter of the geography department. Dr. Dooley remained connected to the community through service on the Blue Earth County Planning Commission and the Board of Adjustments, where she witnessed the evolving needs and uses of land in southern Minnesota. Her apartment in Old Main Village, the Old Main Hall of Mankato State College's lower campus, is her former classroom. 


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