Dougherty/Hearn Dance Scholarship Honors Department Founder and Successor

UO Dance Department founder M. Frances Dougherty (left) and her successor Linda Hearn (right).

By Jenifer Craig
Emerita Associate Professor and 5th Department Head of UO Dance (1992-2016)

Physical Education Department professor emerita Lois Youngen has created a new dance scholarship in honor of her former colleagues M. Frances Dougherty and Linda Hearn.

“Of all the things I’d give money for at the UO, scholarships to students reap the greatest benefit," Youngen said.

Youngen, who joined the faculty of the Physical Education Department just as Dougherty succeeded in establishing the Department of Dance, became close friends with both women and remained so throughout their lives.

“I worked with both of these ladies,” Youngen said. “They were wonderful teachers, wonderful professionals. They served the community and the state of Oregon, and they received very little in return, except the support and respect of their students.”

Both Dougherty and Hearn envisioned a strong future for UO dance and worked diligently to set that course. Their legacies are now secured through the generosity of their colleague and friend Lois Youngen.

“They worked very hard,” said Youngen.  “They supported the university in all ways that do not usually get elevated to full professorship…I’m giving back to the people that made my years here very enjoyable and productive.”

Mary Frances Dougherty was born January 12, 1911 in Denver Colorado. She attended schools in Denver, at the University of New Mexico (1931-33), and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Physical Education from the University of Northern Colorado. In the summers of 1937 and 1938, she attended the landmark modern dance summer courses at Bennington College in Vermont, where she studied with Martha Graham, Hanya Holm, Charles Weidman and Doris Humphrey, known as the “four pioneers” of modern dance. She taught dance and physical education in Greeley elementary schools (1935-40), Denver high schools (1940-46), and dance at the University of Northern Colorado as an Associate Professor. She earned a Ph.D. from New York University (1959) and was immediately hired by the University of Oregon.

At the time, dance was a small part of Physical Education for women; classes in Aesthetic Dance, based on Isadora Duncan’s style were offered as early as 1911. It was solely through the efforts of Dr. Dougherty that Dance became a vital and viable program within the University structure.  From 1959 until her retirement in 1975, she introduced the modern era of dance to the University of Oregon, creating a curriculum with breadth and depth, developing student excitement, and building an expert faculty, including the unusual position of Music Director.

Dougherty’s effective leadership was based in sound philosophical tenets partnered with pragmatism. She designed a serious academic discipline based in movement art. As the program grew, she convinced the administration to establish the Department of Dance as a separate unit within the College of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, with the region’s first dance major and minor. Throughout her tenure, she assisted many former students, who affectionately called her “Dr. D.” to develop successful dance programs in Oregon and throughout the country.

Dougherty held more than 25 leadership positions in the National Dance Association, and was active in 25 other national professional roles (1948-1982). She was a top official in all of the nation’s most prestigious professional organizations. She was instrumental in staging international dance conferences in Canada and Japan, and wrote numerous influential articles. Oregon Governor Mark Hatfield appointed her to the first Advisory Planning Commission for the Arts and Humanities, the forerunner of the Oregon Arts Commission, on which she also served.

Dougherty traveled the state with UO dancers, teaching and performing from Portland to Fossil.  Locally, she created partnerships with numerous schools to increase experience and appreciation of dance among educators and students. She choreographed 40+ dances, and arranged for giants of the professional world to bring their artistry to eager students and audiences. More than once, she sacrificed her own salary to guarantee an extended professional residency.

At her retirement in 1975, the UO had over 100 undergraduate dance majors and 600+ students elected to take dance courses open to the general population each term. Dr. D. was instrumental in securing construction of Gerlinger Annex, the home of the UO Dance Department. Its dance studio theatre was named for her in 1976 as part of the UO’s centennial celebration. She died November 22, 1999 in Tucson, Arizona.

Linda Sue Hearn was born July 20, 1940 in Freeport, Texas, greeted by parents, 5 older sisters and 3 older brothers. Throughout her life, she was known as a “people person,” a leader through consensus and by example, a generous mentor and friend. She was a young athlete, playing on a boys little league baseball team. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education from Texas Woman’s University (1962), and coached girls sports teams at a junior high in Alvin, Texas, before returning to earn a master’s in Dance Education at TWU (1965). She was employed as an Instructor in the University of Oregon’s College of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance. Dr. Dougherty arranged for Hearn’s hire by agreeing to allow her to teach both Physical Education and dance classes in her first years at UO.

Because Hearn had expertise in both fields, she was central to a growing interest in dance among PE students, both women and men. In 1972, UO administrators, in compliance with Title IX, added dance requirements for male PE majors; all dance courses were co-ed. Hearn taught badminton, modern, jazz, social and folk dance, as well as dance production, and costume construction. She taught children’s dance during the summers of the 1960s, and conducted basketball, badminton, and folk dance workshops for teachers. Remaining an avid semi-pro golfer, she also toured the circuit in the summers. In addition, Hearn was a photographer, book illustrator, and carpenter. She designed and built the first Dougherty Dance Theatre lobby furniture.

Hearn created Dobre Folk Ensemble (1969-1977), touring with UO dancers throughout the northwest, with highlighted performances at the 1974 World Exposition in Spokane, Washington, and the 1977 AAHPERD (American Alliance of Health Physical Education and Dance) National Convention in Seattle, Washington. She arranged public school tours throughout Oregon and Idaho, taking busloads of UO dancers who performed modern, jazz and folk and in lecture-demonstrations. They taught workshops in multiple trips to each of at least 20 communities, large and small. In French Glen, Oregon, UO students outnumbered the town’s supportive population. In other locales, the audiences were in the hundreds.

Linda Hearn became the second Head of the Department of Dance in 1974. She maintained a busy teaching, advising, production and performance schedule, and was a force on numerous community advisory boards and dance organizations.  In 1978, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, through which she valiantly persevered, meeting all responsibilities leading faculty and students with gentle, humorous guidance, until she retired from the University in 1982.

Linda Hearn inspired life-long loyalties among the many students who danced for and with her. She continued to support UO dance, donating black proscenium drapes, new lighting instruments and setting up a scholarship fund. She moved to Texas in 1988 to be with family. She died less than a year after Dr. Dougherty’s death, June 2, 2000 in Sandia, Texas.

Dr. Dougherty and Linda Hearn provided overlapping sterling leadership in the early years of the Department of Dance. They were distinct in many ways, while uniform in selfless service to goals of dance excellence at the UO. Hearn said about “Fran” when she had been Department Head for two years: “She left a million-dollar endowment, without the money. There was no trouble in sitting in the chair; filling the shoes is impossible.”