Born in Mahro, Nebraska and orphaned in infancy, Katherine (Kitty) Arbuthnot was raised by an aunt in Des Moines, Iowa. She received degrees from Drake University, Iowa State University, and Columbia University.
Professor Arbuthnot began as a critic teacher in Des Moines, teaching for several years at public schools throughout the area. In 1913, a fellow critic teacher convinced her to move to Monmouth where she was appointed as a critic teacher at Monmouth Elementary School on the Oregon Normal School campus. She later became the principal of the Independence Elementary School.
While at Oregon Normal School (which changed to Oregon College of Education during her tenure), she became an assistant professor of Social Science and head of the Geography department. She stayed in these positions until her retirement in 1947.
A year before Professor Arbuthnot’s retirement, she received an award for outstanding teaching. An excerpt from her recognition reads, “Katharine Arbuthnot, assistant professor of social studies, world traveler, true scholar, inspiring teacher: For distinguished service as a teacher, counselor, and friend to students at Oregon College of Education for over a third of a century.”
The effect she had on the campus wasn’t forgotten; in 1962, the university built a new women’s dormitory and held an official dedication ceremony on January 27, 1963. Arbuthnot Hall was used as a women’s dorm until 1986, when it became the dormitory for the Oregon Police Academy. The building was demolished in 2011.
Professor Arbuthnot’s love for students and for teaching was apparent and appreciated by all who knew her. An appreciation article from the Statesman Journal about her read, “At the very hour of her death on October 27, 1952, she was helping a student prepare an English paper for class at OCE.” Professor Arbuthnot was living at her house in Salem before her death.