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Association for Faculty Women Outstanding Students in Graduate Studies

Outstanding Students in Graduate Studies

The Association for Faculty Women’s Outstanding Graduate Student Awards recognize the academic achievements and professional potential of WSU’s graduate students.  Nominees need no affiliation with the AFW to be nominated.


AFW Founders Award

The AFW Founders Award is presented to outstanding Master’s degree students. Its origination comes from early members of AFW who wished to bestow an honor to an exceptional student at the master’s  level. Both full- and part-time students are eligible. Professional and non-thesis Master’s degree students are not eligible for this award.


The Harriett B. Rigas Award

The Harriett B. Rigas Award is presented to outstanding PhD students. Both full- and part-time students are eligible.

Dr. Harriett B. Rigas (1934-1989) was an electrical engineer with an international reputation for her hybrid computer and computer simulation research. At Washington State University between 1966 and 1984, she was eventually both full professor and chair of Electrical and Computing Engineering. Later she chaired larger departments at the Navy’s Postgraduate School in Monterey and, at the time of her death, Michigan State University.

Her achievements in engineering research, administration, and service were widely recognized. In 1975-76, Harriett was a Program Director at the National Science Foundation and, over the years, a member of numerous panels and advisory committees at both the NSF and the national Academy of Sciences. Her honors included being voted a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, an international organization for professional electrical engineers, and being given the University of Kansas’ Distinguished Engineering Service Award.

Harriett’s success was achieved within a profession and within university administrative structures where there were very few women. Her character and courage were both evident in her strong advocacy of advancement for women. She was involved both locally and nationally in the Society of Women Engineers (and given one of their early national achievement awards).

At WSU, Harriett chaired the Commission on the Status of Women during its infancy in the early 70s; and she was an early president of the Association for Faculty Women. To individual women she was a source of encouragement and advice.

The Association for Faculty Women named the Harriett B. Rigas Outstanding Woman in Doctoral Studies Award in her honor.


The Karen P. DePauw Leadership Award

The Karen P. DePauw Leadership Award (for doctoral candidates) was created in honor of Dr. DePauw’s service to WSU in 2003 to give recognition to doctoral candidates that demonstrate evidence of leadership skills and/or university involvement.

Criteria for the Karen P. DePauw Leadership Award:

  • Full-time or part-time enrolled doctoral students in good standing who have successfully passed their preliminary examination and have a GPA of at least 3.5.
  • Students who have not received this award.
  • Priority is given to applicants with demonstrated leadership components in their research, training, or service contributions.

Sponsorship of the Award

The Karen P. DePauw Leadership Award was originally created in Dr. DePauw’s name through donations from the WSU community. In 2015 Dr. DePauw recognized the need for such a fund to continue in perpetuity and endowed funds for the continued support of graduate students. Awarded in conjunction with the Association for Women Faculty and the Graduate School, the scholarship recognizes outstanding doctoral students for their leadership in research, training, and service.

The Graduate School is committed to providing scholarships and fellowships for outstanding graduate students admitted to its academic programs. Such awards and fellowships provide a valuable structure of financial support to ensure students can enjoy the benefits of a superior academic experience.

About Karen P. DePauw

Dr. Karen P. DePauw began her career teaching in Los Angeles public schools and at California State University, Los Angeles. She earned the A.B. in Sociology from Whittier College, M.S. in Special Education from California State University, Long Beach, and a Ph.D. in Kinesiology from Texas Woman’s University. In 1980 she joined the WSU faculty as a professor of kinesiology and leisure studies. She was Associate Dean of the Graduate School from 1989 to 1997 and served as Associate Vice Provost for Academic Affairs during a period of leadership transition. In 1997 she was appointed Interim Dean of the Washington State University Graduate School, and was named Dean in July 1999. Dean DePauw left WSU to become the Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Dean of the Graduate School at Virginia Tech in August 2002.

As an academic administrator, she has been a strong advocate for diversity and equity in higher education and has spoken at national conferences on changing roles and responsibilities of faculty, preparing the future professoriate and change facing the 21st century University.  Dr. DePauw has held several leadership roles in graduate education.  She was a founding member and Facilitator/Chair for the Virginia Council of Graduate School (VCGS), served as President of the Council of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS) 2007-2008, served as Chair of the 2010 Board of Directors of the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), and served as Chair of the GRE Board (2013-2014).  She has been a panelist, speaker and presenter at regional affiliates (CSGS, WAGS), national meetings and workshops (CGS, NSF IGERT, Advance/NSF), and international conferences (European University Association, Council of Doctoral Education). In 2016, she received the inaugural Debra Stewart Award for Outstanding Leadership in Graduate Education from CGS.

Dr. DePauw is an internationally recognized scholar in the fields of adapted physical activity, disability sport and disability studies.  She has published extensively, presented keynote and scholar lectures around the world.  Her scholarship has focused on inclusion, equity issues, social construction of disability, and sociology of the body.  In recognition of her scholarly contributions, she was elected as a member of the American Academy for Kinesiology in 1997.  Throughout her academic career, she has served in leadership positions for national and international associations, received numerous honors and awards and has worked extensively with the United States Olympic Committee, the International Paralympic Committee and the Olympic & Paralympic Congresses since 1984.

Karen P. DePauw now serves as Vice President and Dean for Graduate Education and holds academic appointments as tenured Professor in the Departments of Sociology and Department of Human Nutrition, Foods & Exercise at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. Since her arrival at Virginia Tech, her major accomplishments include success in building a strong diverse and inclusive graduate community, the establishment of the national awarding winning innovative Graduate Life Center (GLC), the signature academic initiative known as Transformative Graduate Education (TGE) including the global perspectives program and has been recognized nationally as a leader in innovative use of technology and social media in graduate education, ethics and scholarly integrity and interdisciplinary graduate education.