The Passing of S. Ross Doughty ’68

A proud Ursinus alumnus, longtime professor and historian, and celebrated member of the Ursinus community for more than 50 years, Ross passed away on Thursday, March 28, after a valiant battle with ALS.

“A brilliant scholar and revered member of the Ursinus community, Ross made a profound and lasting impact on our institution and will be sorely missed,” Ursinus President Brock Blomberg said in a message to the Ursinus community.

An ardent supporter of Philadelphia sports teams, Ross spent his final afternoon with loved ones watching the Phillies win their Opening Day game.

“Ross Doughty was an amazing mentor to me as an undergraduate at Ursinus, a terrific and supportive colleague after I joined the English department, and a close friend for over 40 years,” said Rebecca Jaroff ’81, an associate professor of English. “He inspired us to be the best at what we do, and his example will live on in all of us who knew him, as we both mourn his loss and honor his legacy.”

Ross dedicated his life to education and to Ursinus, graduating from Ursinus in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in history. He went on to earn his master’s degree and Ph.D. in European history from Harvard University. In addition to his training as a British historian, his scholarship included early modern and modern Europe, Germany, military history, international politics and world history.

At Ursinus, Ross anchored the history program since 1975, in addition to leading Ursinus in a number of other capacities. He was history department chair for 19 years over two extended terms and lent his leadership to the education department as acting chair. He also assisted in the establishment of the East Asian studies minor and enthusiastically supported the international relations program.

“I would not be the person and the academic I am today without Ross’s example to guide me and his generous, unwavering mentorship to support me,” said Susanna Throop, an associate professor and department chair of history. “I remember that when my first monograph came out, I gave him a copy. I learned from students and colleagues that he carried that book with him all day, to classes and meetings, showing it to everyone he encountered. I don’t have words for how tremendous his pride in me made me feel. Now, as I continue to grow as a leader, I think of Ross—his example, and his faith in me—virtually on a daily basis. He will always be with me, and I’m so grateful to have known him.”

Ross won the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1980 and in 1993 and was one of the first people to be inducted into the Tau Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa at Ursinus. Deeply committed to the transformative value of international education, Ross served as co-director of the Ursinus in Tübingen program and was co-leader of the summer study in Japan program, as well as a visiting professor of history and English at Tohoku Gakuin University in Sendai, Japan.

“Ross was a teacher and mentor to so many of us. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to work with and learn from him,” said Ed Onaci, an assistant professor of history. “He motivated me in his presence and will continue to encourage me when I need that extra nudge, even in his absence.”

He was the Ursinus campus coordinator of the Bucks and Montgomery County regional National History Day program since its inception in 1996, a program that was renamed in his honor in March of last year. Ross served on the executive council of the Speaker’s House in Trappe; was the history department co-organizer of the Ursinus College Yom Hashoah (Holocaust remembrance) program; was the college representative for James Madison scholarships; and served as a reviewer for several history textbooks and manuscripts. Most recently, Ursinus honored Ross with the 2019 Henry P. and M. Page Laughlin Educator Award for outstanding contributions in the field of education.

Ross is survived by his son Robert Andrew (Andy) and his wife, Ana; his son Ian and his wife, Cynthia; his daughter Megan and her husband, Alexander Shaine; his half-brother Stephen and his wife, Kathy; his nephew, Graham; and seven grandchildren: Alexandre (Alex), Gabriela, Bronagh, Benjamin, Lucy, Samuel and Theodore. He is predeceased by his parents, Stewart Edward Doughty and Anne Ross Doughty.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, May 4, at 1 p.m. on the Ursinus College campus in Bomberger Hall, with a reception to follow in Myrin Library. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the ALS Hope Foundation or the S. Ross Doughty ’68 Endowed Scholarship at Ursinus College.