Daugherty’s Promise for the Future

Posted Sep 16, 2020

Coming from a long line of educators — both grandmothers and both parents went to college and became teachers — you could say Professor Beth Daugherty’s fate, a lifetime of teaching British and American literature, was sealed early growing up in Quaker City, a small town of about 500 located in southeastern Ohio.

“I liked to read as a child,” Daugherty said. “But college surrounded me with the transformative power of words. I want future students to feel that expanding universe; to fall in love with language, reading and writing; to learn how literature helps us move through our lives.”

Daugherty and her husband, Gary, made a pair of generous commitments to Otterbein, one establishing the Daugherty Promise Scholarship and the other supporting the Otterbein University Endowment, the Mary B. Thomas Academic Excellence Fund and the Daugherty Promise Scholarship fund through an estate gift. Income will assist promising students pursuing an English major at Otterbein.

“I really did grow up in a family where everybody valued education,” said Daugherty, who as an infant, lay cradled in her mother’s left arm while her mom used her right hand to finish writing her master’s thesis on William Faulkner.

Daugherty, during a sabbatical to finish her book manuscript, Virginia Woolf’s Apprenticeship: The Education of a Woman Writer, spent five weeks in London doing research for the book, the first in a planned three-book series on Woolf as an essayist.

“I’m trying to imagine what it was like for her as a young woman, learning to be a writer when she wasn’t even sure she could be a writer yet,” Daugherty said about her first manuscript on Woolf, who had almost no formal education, but was homeschooled.

Daugherty spent six days a week in the archives of the British Library, University of Sussex, King’s College London, London Library, Morley College, Lambeth Archives and Women’s Library at the London School of Economics. While she was in London, she was also pleased to spend time with Otterbein alumni and friends during her visit.

Daugherty believes her research on the education of Woolf will help her in the classroom, too.

“I think it has helped me understand more about the nature of learning in general and what our students go through today,” Daugherty said. “It’s a very different situation (than what Woolf faced) and yet I’m sure a lot of it is the same. As a learner, you are trying to piece together things that seem fragmented.”