The Meredith College community was saddened to learn of the death of Professor Emerita Dorothy “Dot” Knott Preston, ’54, on January 5, 2021, at age 88.
Preston served on Meredith’s faculty from 1961 until her retirement in 1997 as a professor of mathematics.
Phyllis O'Hara Smetana, ’87, said Preston, who was her freshman faculty adviser, had a major impact on her life. Smetana now teaches in Meredith’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.
“Although I never had her as a professor, Dr. Preston played a key role in my academic and professional life -- always encouraging me to strive for my best and always a strong advocate for women in mathematics, and in particular statistics,” Smetana said. “She encouraged women to go into STEM fields before that was a ‘thing’. She was a proud Meredith alumna, setting a strong example for those of us who dared to study mathematics.”
Preston is also remembered for playing the Cheshire Cat in Meredith’s quadrennial productions of Alice in Wonderland. In her published obituary, it says that she continued to attend Alice performances after her retirement, “taking great delight in the Cats who followed her in that role.”
A recipient of the Order of the Longleaf Pine in 1984, Preston was a leader at her church, First Baptist Church of Raleigh on Salisbury Street, and in her community. She was an active alumna at Meredith. In memory of her husband, Preston established the Judge Edwin S. Preston, Jr. and Dorothy K. Preston Scholarship in Statistics at Meredith College.
Meredith College mourns Preston’s loss along with her family and friends.