Writing studio dedicated to Madgetta Dungy

Cornell College has dedicated the writing studio to Madgetta Thornton Dungy ’64, the first African American female to graduate from Cornell.

img043When Madgetta Thornton arrived at Cornell College in 1960, she was the only African American female student on campus. She often sent her writing assignments home to be reviewed by her parents, due to the lack of adequate feedback from professors or a Writing Studio. Reflecting upon her experiences, Dr. Dungy felt the lack of encouragement or support from faculty and the negative preconceptions of the academic abilities of women and people of color had a profound impact on her academic performance.

She completed her bachelor’s degree in political science in 1964 and was Cornell’s first African-American female graduate. Dr. Dungy went on to earn a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration from the University of Colorado and began her career in university administration in student services. President Les Garner appointed Dungy as Interim Director of Multicultural Affairs in 1994 and then as Visiting Professor of Education for the 1995-96 academic year. She earned a Ph.D. in higher education administration in 1997 and her dissertation was titled “African-American Graduate School Experiences at the University of Iowa, 1937-1959: An Oral History.” She later served on the Cornell College Board of Trustees, 1996 to 2004.

Dungy retired as Assistant Dean for Faculty Affairs and Development at the University of Iowa College of Medicine.  As a professional and volunteer, she has been recognized for her work in national, state, and local community organizations and associations on behalf of students of color, women, the arts and non-profit agencies. Dr. Dungy says, “I am motivated by the fervent belief that in spite of challenges in life, one can turn those experiences into the empowerment of others.”

In naming the Writing Studio in honor of Dr. Dungy, the college acknowledges her struggle and honors her many accomplishments. It also symbolizes how far the college has come in procuring important academic resources for students of all backgrounds.