There are many examples of talented teachers who can boast unusual achievements. One stellar example of this is Dorothy Cimberg Finkelhor, a business teacher from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who actually founded a university.
Dorothy Cimberg was born in New York’s Lower East Side on February 22, 1902. Her parents were Jewish immigrants from Russia. This is unusual for an academic, but Dorothy was a high school dropout. At the age of 25, however, she enrolled in Duquesne University, a private Catholic University located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There she earned a bachelor’s degree in economics, a master’s degree in economics, and a master’s degree in business. In 1941, she completed the requirements for her doctorate, which she earned at Pittsburgh University.
With her husband, Lawrence Herbert Finkelhor, Dorothy founded the Business Training College in downtown Pittsburgh in 1933. With an initial enrollment of fifty students, the school pioneered coursework in medical careers, accounting, engineering, and secretarial skills. At the time, it was extremely unusual for a woman to accomplish something like this. Dorothy served as the school’s only teacher, and she even filled the roles of registrar, admissions counselor, finance director, telephone operator, dean of women, social chairman, and janitor. Eventually the institution became a four-year university under the name Point Park College. Dorothy became the first president of the college, and served in this capacity, from 1960 to 1967.
After her retirement, Dorothy moved to Florida, but she didn’t live a life of leisure there. She published several books, including How to Make Your Emotions Work for You (1973), The Liberated Grandmother: How to Be a Successful Grandmother While Living Your Own Life as a Free and Happy Woman (1975), and The Triumph of Age: How to Feel Young and Happy in Retirement (1979).
The chalkboard champion died of cardiac arrest in Ocean Ridge, Florida, on July 19, 1988, at the age of 86. “She was always an inspirational person, a can-do person,” remembered Point Park College President J. Matthew Simon. “She really was one of a kind.”