by Bria Isaacson, News Editor
Women are called to Christian service just as men are, and yet few people know of the service and money committed to Asbury University by women. To continue to celebrate March as Women’s History Month, we recognize the following Asbury women:
Dorothy Eloise McVittie married Stanley Sebastian (S.S.) Kresge, the son of the founder of the Kmart department stores, which were first called S.S. Kresge stores. She provided $1,754,000 to pay for Kresge Hall, which opened in 1973. This is the largest capital project in college history to date, according to Asbury’s website.
Both she and her husband donated to numerous organizations through the Kresge Foundation. The New York Times published an article upon the death of Stanley in 1985 that recorded their total givings to charitable, civic, social, educational and medical beneficiaries at $500 million. In addition to giving, both Kresges publicly and privately disagreed with business practices they considered contrary to their Methodist faith. Dorothy even started a discussion in a 1963 stockholders’ meeting on the morality of Kmart being open on Sunday. She and S.S. also objected to the selling of beer and wine at Kmart stores.
Eathel Doddridge Holland
Eathel Doddridge taught English at Asbury from 1920 to 1922. She traveled to Burma as a Methodist missionary and supervised a girls’ high school for one term, according to Asbury’s website. She returned to teach English and history at Asbury in 1930, and she stayed until 1952. In that time at Asbury, she also served as dean of women for five years and married William W. Holland, a member of Asbury’s board of trustees and later a professor of religion.
Together, they provided $25,000 for the construction of a student center, which housed a basketball court (later used as a theater), swimming pool, CPO, bookstore and classrooms. Construction began on the Doddridge-Holland Student Union in 1949. The building was dedicated in 1952, and it was torn down in 2016 to make room for the Collaborative Learning Center, which Asbury is currently fundraising for through the Ignited Campaign.
Rita J. Pritchett
Coach Rita Pritchett was on Asbury’s faculty from 1971 to 2011. She was a key figure in developing intercollegiate women’s sports on campus; she coached tennis, volleyball, softball, soccer and track and field teams during her time here. She served as Asbury’s athletic director and was the first woman in Kentucky to hold the position.
Roberta Day Corbitt
Roberta Day attended Asbury College and met her husband, Duvon Corbitt, here. They were married in 1924 and moved to Cuba in 1927 to teach and be missionaries. Although they returned to the U.S. after two years, they periodically returned to Cuba, spending about 15 years total there.
They taught at Asbury from 1946 to 1974; Duvon taught history and Roberta taught Spanish. During this time, they worked with Nicholasville Mission, which served the underprivileged of Jessamine County. While there, Roberta met people from a high-poverty area of Eastern Kentucky and developed a passion for these people. She and Duvon often visited the mountains, and they founded the Wildwood Chapel Mission in Powell County.
Roberta died in 1974, and Duvon died in 1982. An Asbury College men’s dormitory was built and named after them in 1978. Corbitt Hall became the home of the media communications department in 1984, and the building now houses the School of Graduate and Professional Studies.