Former Dean of Women a vibrant lady

Dr. Elspeth Baugh wore more than one hat at Queen’s University.

Dr. Baugh was the daughter of a Queen’s principal and spent much of her childhood at Summerhill. She was a Queen’s student who graduated with a degree in psychology and later returned to teach in the psychology department. She was one of the last Deans of Women and a room in Ban Righ Hall —-the Elspeth Baugh Fireside Room— is named in her honour.

Dr. Baugh died on July 6 of complications from cancer. She was 72.

“She was inspirational and a role model and well ahead of her time,” said Dr. Roberta Head, head of the sociology department. “She was a very, very wise woman and she understood all the students.”

The daughter of Dr. Robert Wallace, principal of Queen’s from 1936 to 1951, Dr. Baugh graduated from Queen’s in 1949, received her Masters of Clinical Psychology from the University of Michigan and her doctorate from York University. Before she returned to Queen’s in 1980 to assume the position of Dean of Women, she worked as a clinical psychologist for children.

Her position was phased out after the Dean of Students was established last decade, but according to friends, former students and faculty, Dr. Baugh was a vibrant lady who truly made a difference in her role.

When Dr. Baugh became Dean in 1980, a Journal staff writer who interviewed the incoming dean recounted the following about the conversation.

“An interview with the new Dean of Women doesn’t follow clearcut lines; she deftly moves the conversation from one topic to another. A formal interview becomes a conversation; a conversation turns into an intimate chat,” wrote Janet McCrimmon, Journal staff writer.

Before she retired in 1993, Dr. Baugh helped change the University’s attitude towards women, particularly during the infamous Gordon House residence incident in 1989, said longtime friend Joanne Page.

In 1989 first-year male students displayed signs in their residence windows with charged sentiments like “no means tie her up” and “no means kick her in the teeth” in response to a campus-wide campaign against sexual harassment.

Occurring at a time when campus attitudes towards women were under scrutiny because of the Montreal Massacre (when 14 women were killed by Marc Lepine at Concordia), the incident received national attention after feminist groups occupied the principal’s office and nine students went before the AMS judicial committee.

“[Dr. Baugh] was a real anchor for the budding feminism on campus [at the time],” Page said.

“There is more open discussion now about a number of issues between men and women than there was 10 years ago, and I think that is encouraging,” Dr. Baugh told the Journal in 1989.

“I envy the number of choices open to young people today, but I don’t envy the difficult decisions you have to make.”

-With files from the Kingston Whig-Standard

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