Interview with Margaret Dobson (Part 1 of 2)

Interview with Margaret Dobson (Part 1 of 2)


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Michael O'Rourke interviewed Dr. Margaret Dobson on November 22 and 29, 2010, at the Portland State University Library.

This recording is part 1 of 2.


Some portions of the interview have been edited for relevance to PSU history. The unabridged recording and transcript are available through Portland State University Archives at the PSU Library. Please contact with inquiries.

The University Archives has teamed with the Retirement Association of Portland State (RAPS) and other campus stakeholders in an ongoing effort to capture the first-person insight of those instrumental to the development and success of Portland State.

PSU Library Special Collections and University Archives presents these recordings as part of the historical record. They reflect the recollections and opinions of the individual speakers and are not intended to be representative of the views of Portland State University. They may contain language, ideas, or stereotypes that are offensive to others.

Interview Date



Disability and Equity in Education | Education | Gender Equity in Education | Health and Physical Education | Sports Sciences


Margaret Dobson (1931-2012) enrolled at the Vanport Extension Center in 1950, the same year she finished a national softball tournament with the Erv Lind Florists softball team with a record .615 batting average. The college had no softball team, but she earned a varsity letter playing for the men’s baseball team, an event that captured national press attention.

As an athlete, Dr. Dobson has been recognized as an inductee into the Portland Metropolitan Softball Hall of Fame, Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, and the ASA National Softball Hall of Fame. She was a five-time All-America Team member, played on three World Champion teams, and was listed in Sports Illustrated Magazine as one of Oregon's “50 Greatest Sports Figures of the 20th Century.” In 1959, she retired from softball to pursue a career in education.

After earning a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Oregon in physical education, she taught at Lincoln High School for one year and then joined the faculty at Portland State College in 1955. Dr. Dobson also received her master's and doctorate degrees from the University of Oregon. She attained full professor status in 1968 and held numerous positions during her educational career at Portland State University, including Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Assistant Dean of the School of Health and Physical Education.

She was dedicated throughout her career to equity in sports. She co-authored the book Softball for Girls with UO coach Becky Sisley in 1971. As a faculty member and athletics coach, Dr. Dobson gave legislative testimony that contributed to the passage of Title IX, prohibiting discrimination in school programs on the basis of sex, in 1972. Her doctoral studies research at the University of Wisconsin was used to develop and implement physical fitness tests for U.S. public school children. She met with Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1962 and became an influential leader in instructing future educators with skills and techniques to work with special needs children. The sports camps she helped establish formed the foundation for the Special Olympics.

Dr. Dobson retired from Portland State University in 1990 as Executive Vice President Emerita. Since 1976, Portland State University has presented the Margaret J. Dobson award to its outstanding women athletes.

Persistent Identifier


This digital access copy is made available as streaming media for personal, educational, and non-commercial use within the parameters of 'fair use' as defined under U.S. Copyright law. It cannot be reproduced, distributed, or screened for commercial purposes. For more information, please contact Special Collections at Portland State University Library at: or (503) 725-9883.

Interview with Margaret Dobson (Part 1 of 2)