The Association for Faculty Women has announced the honorees for this year’s Samuel H. Smith Leadership Award, to be presented at its meeting on December 9. A special posthumous award will be made to Judy Mitchell, former dean of the College of Education.
At the time of her death in June of 2009, Dean Judy Mitchell was WSU’s longest currently serving dean, having joined WSU in 1998. Her record of accomplishments was broad and deep, enhancing quality, fiscal responsibility and diversity. Of the College of Education’s total of 71 tenure-line faculty, Dean Judy Mitchell hired 49, 59% of whom are female. She also restored the College to fiscal health, retiring a debt of $1.5 million in her first three years. Dean Mitchell strengthened the College’s impact, developing strong partnerships across the Pullman campus as well as strong positive relationships with each of the regional campuses. Dean Mitchell also was instrumental in fostering diversity, initiating the concept of “cluster hires,” which helped add female faculty in the sciences as well as enhancing diversity in her own college. She also strengthened university partnerships around tribal education. In a five-year period, she hired 8 faculty of color, promoted 3 others to associate, and promoted 2 others to full. She was a successful fund raiser and worked strategically to support and encourage increased research and scholarly productivity.
Dean Mitchell was described by her faculty and staff as accessible, approachable, friendly, honest, and fair. She also was described as hard working, generous with her time, and highly dependable. She was known as a mentor to other women and served as an active and visible leader on the WSU campus and at the state and national levels.
Faculty members who wrote in support of her nomination prior to her passing were effusive in their praise and admiration. One faculty member wrote, “Judy has been a mentor and inspiration for everything I have accomplished at the CaE [sic].” Another wrote, ” I view her receipt of this not only justified for her leadership accomplishments, but also as an example of a leadership style to emulate.” Another wrote, ” I have learned that Judy leads by example by remaining positive, ethical, and above all professional in even the most difficult of circumstances. “