Doyle Center to remember original founder

Jason Roth organises rededication ceremony to remember Patricia A. Doyle

As finals week approaches, students are busy with projects and end-of-the-year studying. One student, though, has been working to create a ceremony to honor and recognise the impact of one of southwest Wisconsin’s highly influential woman. 

After cleaning out some cabinets in the Patricia A. Doyle Center for Gender and Sexuality, junior women’s and gender studies major and Events and Office Assistant Jason Roth discovered the obituary for Patricia A. Doyle, founder of the Center. This obituary was the only thing in the Doyle Center that really talked about who Doyle was and the work she did for campus.

“We didn’t have anything that explained who she was. We have a small obituary posted on the website, but other than that, not much has been shared. I was curious and decided to look into it more. I realized that she had done some amazing work for our campus. I have also done research in the Southwest Wisconsin Room to learn more about her impact,” Roth said. 

Roth completed a research project focusing on Doyle, and he hopes to use those materials as resources and general information in the Center. Along with the research, Roth has created a plaque and organised a rededication ceremony to honor and recognise all that Doyle did for the University of Wisconsin-Platteville campus.

“I guess you could say all of the stars aligned. This is the best time to do it and make Doyle’s impact known on campus. This has been talked about before, but it has never gotten done. It just makes sense since I am doing the research on her,” Roth said.

Dr. Eugene R.H. Tesdahl, assistant professor of history, teaches American women’s history at UW-Platteville. It was for Tesdahl’s class that Roth decided to research Doyle. Tesdahl said that gender equality is important for all Americans. 

“UW-Platteville established the Women’s Center in 1977 and hired its first director, Ms. Patricia Doyle, in 1984 to support women at UW-Platteville and to combat sexism on this campus,” Tesdahl said. “It is fitting that today the Doyle Center for Gender and Sexuality continues to serve [UW-Platteville] Pioneers and to honor the dynamic leader who gave the center its start.”

Doyle did a lot of impactful things while working at UW-Platteville. Roth said that when she started at UW-Platteville, she was a language arts professor, and in 1984, the campus decided to hire her as the director for the Women’s Center (now the Doyle Center), a place on campus to provide resources and materials for women. Doyle worked as a part-time language arts professor and part-time director of the Women’s Center. 

By 1988, Doyle was the assistant to the chancellor for affirmative action and women’s services until her death in 1994. Even before this, though, Doyle served as the affirmative action officer in 1986.

“[Doyle] was also on quite a few different boards. She served as the president of the Board of Directors for the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, she was a member for the advisory board for family advocates and she helped form the Women’s Council here at [UW-]Platteville in 1989,” Roth said.

Doyle passed away in 1994 from breast cancer. In 1995, the Faculty Senate proposed to change the Women’s Center to the Patricia A. Doyle Center.

“This was still the Women’s Center at the time. The name did not change to Gender and Sexuality until just recently. No one seems to know the exact date, but it has been a recent change,” Roth said. 

The day of official dedication to Doyle was on November 29, 1995. The center opened in 1977, and at that point, it was one graduate assistant and a few students serving as a support group to thrive as women in higher education. Roth said that because it was not overseen by faculty or staff, it fluctuated in how many members it had, and in 1982, the Center had to close its doors. Shortly after in 1983, the Center reopened and the women’s studies program decided to use it as a resource center with a full-time director. With the dedication from Doyle and many other staff and students, the Center has grown into a place of resources and information, providing a space for inclusivity on campus. 

“To me, the Doyle Center is about having a space for queer students to relax and not worry about facing homophobia, having to explain what our identities mean or being asked rude questions. It’s also much larger than that because just having a space specifically for queer students shows that the campus values us and wants us to contribute to the UW-Platteville community in the unique ways that our identities allow,” sophomore chemistry major Riley Sasse said.

The rededication ceremony will be held on May 13 to honor Patricia A. Doyle and all she did for the UW-Platteville campus.