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Spokane YWCA Honors Former Academic Vice President Patricia O’Connell Killen

Spokane YWCA 2017 Women of Achievement honorees with keynote speaker Janine Latus. (From left): Juliana Matthews Repp, Carl Maxey Racial & Social Justice; Patricia O’Conell Killen, Education; Gina Freuen, Art & Culture; Ellen Robey, Lifetime Achievement; Kristin Goff, Business & Industry; Latus; Mary DeLateur, Community Enhancement; Heather Rosentrater, Science, Technology & Environment. (Photo courtesy E. Fisher Photography)

SPOKANE, Wash. –  Patricia O’Connell Killen, Ph.D., Gonzaga’s former academic vice president, recently received the 2017 Woman of Achievement award for her work in education at the 35th annual Spokane YWCA Women of Achievement Impact Luncheon at the Davenport Grand Hotel.

Killen was cited for her work in inspiring women and minority groups at Gonzaga and in the community. She was lauded for leading and implementing the Underrepresented Minority Teaching Post-Doctoral Fellows program, which brings recent University of Washington doctoral graduates of different cultures to Gonzaga to teach. She guided establishment of the Native American Studies program, attracting a top Native American scholar to lead it, and supported the hiring of the first full-time faculty member into Gonzaga’s women and gender studies program. She empowered Gonzaga’s women and families, helping to establish a parental leave policy at Gonzaga, the region’s sixth largest private employer.

Most recently, she played an integral role in establishing the Regional Health Partnership between the University of Washington School of Medicine and Gonzaga, supporting the growth of Spokane as a place of academic excellence in health care. Also noted was her work in expanding international education opportunities, collaborating to incorporate career preparation into the curriculum across disciplines, and promoting initiatives that prepare graduates to have a powerful impact on their communities.

“We are delighted that the YWCA, a strong and powerful voice for women and minorities, chose to honor Dr. Killen’s dedication and selfless service to students and the community,” said Thayne McCulloh, GU president. “Among her long list of achievements is a lifetime of unmatched passion and skillfulness in opening doors for women in formerly patriarchal systems and structures, and to help underrepresented populations leverage education to achieve new, unimagined success. Often working behind the scenes, she has always exemplified the Jesuit tenet of being a person for others.”

Killen received her undergraduate degree from GU in 1974, and returned to her alma mater in 2010 as the first female Academic Vice President in the institution’s history. She earned master’s and doctoral degrees at Stanford, and was a professor, scholar, faculty leader, departmental administrator and provost who has advocated for women and minorities throughout her career. She currently serves as Senior University Fellow and professor of religious studies at Gonzaga.

The YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. The annual Women of Achievement Impact Luncheon is the organization’s largest fundraising event.

The seven honorees honored at the Sept. 28 event included three other women with strong ties to  Gonzaga. Gina Freuen, Gonzaga art professor for 20 years before retiring in May, received the award for art and culture for her work in improving arts education in the region over the last 40 years. Heather Rosentrater, adjunct professor, received the award for science, technology and environment honoring her 21-year career in the utility industry. Juliana Matthews Repp, who was honored with the Carl Maxey Racial and Social Justice award, is a graduate of Gonzaga’s School of Law.

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