Susan Armitage receives congratulations and Woman of the Year award from President Elson S. Floyd. (Photo by Shelly Hanks, WSU Photo Servces)
Sue Armitage received the annual Woman of the Year award at the Annual Women of Distinction luncheon Wednesday. Armitage, above, is joined by other award winners.
Armitage, is the Claudius O and Mary R. Johnson Distinguished Professor of History, Department of History and Department of Women’s Studies, WSU Pullman
She is said to embody both the theme and spirit in which this award was created. She has spent her career promoting new and innovative approaches to the study of the history of women in the American West and in so doing has diligently and enthusiastically mentored generations of graduate students and colleagues across the WSU Campuses.
Armitage came to WSU in 1978 as its first Director of Women Studies and as an assistant professor of History and by 1986 she was made full professor. She has served as Director of the American Studies program and as editor of Frontiers, a WSU publication that addresses issues related to women.
As one colleague stated, “anyone who studies the experiences of women in the development of the American West owes a considerable debt to Sue.”
She has held the Edward R. Meyer Distinguished Professor of History and Women’s Studies and the Claudius O and Mary R Johnson Distinguished Professorship. In addition, she has served as the Director of the Center for Columbia River History. Ultimately she has changed the thinking in her field of Women’s History by being one of the first scholars to develop women’s role in the American West through research, teaching and service. Her scholarship is not only extensive, but also innovative.
Armitage serves as a constant source of encouragement and as a role model for successful women in academia. Her numerous awards evidence this truth. She was a Mellon Scholar at the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women in 1984, a Hilliard Scholar at the University of Nevada at Reno. Chair of the Association for Faculty Women at WSU, recipient of the Faculty Distinguished Achievement Award form the College of Liberal Arts in 1988, Distinguished Fulbright Chair in American History at Moscow State University, Russia.
She has provided an atmosphere wherein women are free to explore and navigate the world while simultaneously challenging traditional notions of gender and its use in mainstream culture.
One of her nominators remarked, “she has taught me how women’s history is important and challenged me to discover how a gendered focus can not only enhance my research but change the stories I wish to tell.”
As a professor Armitage freely shares her experience, knowledge and expertise shaping the next women leaders. It has been said that she ”fosters a comfortable atmosphere that allows students to express their ideas, which never fails to result in a lively and spirited discussion.”
Clearly, she is able to provide the necessary environment for individuals to ask the hard questions and consider multiple perspectives to develop informed answers. Her work led to her being invited by Lady Laura Bush to the White House to salute three western women authors in 2003. Throughout her career, Armitage has been a key strategist in long-term efforts to advance women at WSU. has devoted her life to achieving an inclusive and egalitarian society, skillfully empowering others to do the same and for that reason she was selected as the WSU Woman of the Year for 2008.