The Legacy of a Generous Heart

Adapted from a story published by Bill Ibelle in News@Northeastern on July 5, 2018.

Doreen Hodgkin planned to become a gym teacher. Instead, she rose through the ranks of academia to become associate dean of Northeastern’s Khoury College of Computer Sciences. And when Hodgkin retired in 2018 after 35 years, the university bade farewell to one of its most versatile, well-loved administrators.

Hodgkin was a career advisor, co-op director, and head of student recruitment and advising. One of her proudest achievements was helping Carla Brodley, former dean of Khoury College, increase the percentage of female students from 19 percent in 2014 to 30 percent four years later. Hodgkin personally called the family of every female student accepted into the computer science program.

“Her warmth, coupled with the confidence she has inspired in prospective students and their families, has been crucial,” says Brodley, now dean of inclusive computing. “People automatically trust her.”

Hodgkin reserved the biggest part of her heart for students, and whether their concern was academic or personal, her door was always open. Alumni, faculty, families, and friends have honored her by making gifts to the Doreen Hodgkin Student Emergency Fund, which provides financial backing to any full-time undergraduate at Khoury College in need of temporary support—from travel expenses so that a student may return home during a family crisis to emergency temporary lodging. More than 90 donors have contributed to the fund since its launch, a testament to Hodgkin and her work.

Hodgkin has had an impact on faculty, too. “Doreen made me feel welcome and saved me when I was drowning in typical new hire chaos,” says David Sprague, a former lecturer in computer science. “I strongly suspect that she was either cloned or has other superpowers because she seemed to be everywhere.”