Lipscomb community mourns the loss of longtime business professor

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The funeral honoring the life of Patty Dugger is set for Thursday, May 16, 1:00 p.m. at Granny White Church of Christ in Nashville. There is no scheduled visitation.

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Patty Landon Dugger had quite a reputation at one time in the Tennessee Governor’s office.

Patty DuggerNo, she didn’t have a reputation as a dissatisfied constituent or a lobbyist. Rather, she was legendary for training the best office administrators in the area.

Today, the Lipscomb community is mourning the loss of Dugger, longtime business faculty member and director of the Lifelong Learning Program, who died May 13 at the age of 80 following a lengthy illness.

"Patty Dugger was one of a generation of department of business faculty members who devoted their lives to teaching at Lipscomb,” said Turney Stevens, dean of the College of Business. “Without her guidance, many who achieved great things in their careers would have been far less successful."

For decades, officials in the governor’s office called on Dugger, when they needed to fill an administrative staff position, for candidates to hire. Dugger, who was a member of Lipscomb’s business faculty for 43 years, earned a reputation for producing the most skilled and ethical office administrators in Middle Tennessee. Her former students were in great demand in companies throughout Nashville. Her students became affectionately known as “Dugger’s Girls.”

In 1981, eight of Dugger’s former students were part of then-Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander’s staff. One day they invited her to the state capitol for a visit and was unexpectedly greeted by the governor.

“So this is the Dugger of ‘Dugger’s Girls,” Alexander said when they met. “I’ve been wanting to meet you for a long time.” He complimented her on the quality of her students and honored her with a special pin to commemorate the occasion.

“Patty Dugger was a great teacher who taught many students over the years,” said Provost W. Craig Bledsoe. “She was much loved and appreciated by both students and faculty. She was wise about faculty matters, and I would often seek her counsel about faculty issues. Faculty respected and appreciated her views on matters that affected them or their students.”

Dugger taught generations of Lipscomb students office management, Ten Key, keyboarding and office administration courses. But, she was notorious for her demanding business report and letter writing course, which trained students to prepare top-quality business letters, emails and reports among other documents.

“She carried herself with such grace and dignity, always setting a great example for her students and our business faculty,” said Charles Frasier, professor of accounting and chair of the department of accounting, finance and economics. “She always had a beautiful smile and maintained such a positive and optimistic outlook on life. She was a joy to be around. Her bright and happy spirit touched all of us, and we continue to feel her spirit with us today.”

Dugger, who attended Lipscomb from the first grade until she earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the university in 1953, officially retired from the faculty in 2002. She left a legacy in the classroom that impacted generations of business students.

“Axel Swang and Patty Dugger were the two business professors who impacted me the most during my tenure as a student and faculty member,” said Perry Moore, professor of accounting. “Patty taught business report and letter writing to all business majors. Patty encouraged and strengthened my love of writing and taught me skills and lessons I continue to use today. As a result, she continues to impact hundreds of Lipscomb students years after her retirement. She stressed that the little things did matter and to make the effort to do it right the first time.”

Dugger was also admired by her colleagues.

Patty Dugger_2“I can't think of anyone who gave more of themselves to Lipscomb than Patty Dugger,” said Bill Ingram, professor of business administration. “She was also the ultimate professional in the manner she conducted her courses, lead her department and served on numerous committees. Despite having a full plate of responsibilities, she always had time for students and other faculty who needed her help. She was deeply committed to the mission of Lipscomb and it was a tremendous privilege and inspiration to work along side such a great example of Christian living.”

“Patty Dugger was a kind and gracious member of the College of Business faculty and always had a positive impact on her students and colleagues. She was a major contributor to the development and growth of the department of business administration and, later, the College of Business,” said John Crawford, professor of business administration. “I will always remember her encouraging words and actions toward me when I came to Lipscomb as an inexperienced and young instructor.”

In 2001, Dugger developed Lipscomb’s Lifelong Learning Program to offer people of retirement and semi-retirement age an opportunity to expand knowledge and explore new ideas in an informal, noncompetitive environment. She led the program for a decade before retiring on a permanent basis. The program enrolls more than 500 students each year.

“I will always be appreciative for her love for our Lifelong Learning Program,” said Bledsoe. “She brought the idea for the program to me many years ago. With little funding, but with a lot of tenacity, she developed the program, and directed it for years. Today, Lipscomb's Lifelong Learning Program is one of the best in the country, having served hundreds of students since its inception. The program is what it is today because of her desire to make it one of the best.”

Dugger’s lifelong association with Lipscomb began before she was born when her grandfather, E.P. Landon, made a vow to God that if his young son, Don, survived his bout with scarlet fever, he would be “faithful to Thee to my dying day.” His son lived, and her grandfather was baptized and started a congregation in Reedsville, Ohio.

Through the years he heard about Nashville through Central Church of Christ broadcasts from the city and he read the Gospel Advocate, through which he learned of David Lipscomb College. When he learned that son, Don, and his wife, Vera Rosalee, were expecting a child, E.P. sold his mercantile store in Reedsville and moved his wife, son, and daughter-in-law to Nashville in 1932.

He found the Lipscomb campus, purchased a house along Granny White Pike across from the school (at the corner of Morrow Avenue), and bought other property across from the campus on which he built four stores (where Draper Jewelers stands today). E.P. opened Landon Hardware, which became a popular stop to travelers going to and from downtown Nashville for generations.

“I was born, the first grandchild, and my first memories were of granddaddy telling me, as we looked out of the front window of our home at Harding Hall on the campus, that one day I would be starting school at David Lipscomb,” Dugger once recalled in a memoir. “My brother and I started the first grade at Lipscomb and spent 16 years on the Lipscomb campus while we completed elementary school, high school and college. Because of a vow made decades ago, Lipscomb is my heritage.”

Her family was also instrumental in the Granny White Church of Christ located near the Lipscomb campus and helped build the facility where it meets today.

Following Dugger’s graduation from the university, she completed a Master of Education degree from Ohio University as well as an education specialist degree from Peabody College. She also completed additional studies at Ohio State University, the University of Southern California and the University of Tennessee.

She was hired at Lipscomb for the 1954 school year as an instructor in the business administration department. In 1963, she married Robert Barr Dugger and stepped away from the classroom. They moved to Tuscumbia, Ala., where daughter, Leigh, was born. When Leigh was three years old her father died suddenly. Then-president Willard Collins immediately traveled to Tuscumbia and offered Dugger another faculty position at Lipscomb.

She accepted and returned to Nashville and to the Lipscomb campus in 1968 as an assistant professor of business administration. Dugger purchased a home next to her grandparents’ home along Granny White, where she lived until her death.

While raising a young daughter, she became one of Lipscomb’s legendary professors. She received the university’s Outstanding Teaching Award in 1984 and 1994 as well as the John William Baker Summer Fellowship Award in 1986. In addition, she held the Lucille Parker Professorship in Business Administration, was a longtime member of the student affairs committee and was sponsor of Phi Beta Lambda professional business club among other activities.

Dugger is survived by daughter, Leigh Ellenburg, who is part of the Lipscomb Academy Elementary School Learning Enhancement Program team; son-in-law, Phil Ellenburg, former general counsel at Lipscomb University; and grandchildren, Olivia, a university student; Lillie Grace, who will be a freshman at the university this fall; and Barr, an 8th grader at the academy.

Arrangements are incomplete at this time.