Giving encourages transformational ideas
Donna LaLonde has a low tolerance for boredom.
Even though she has been at Washburn for more than 20 years, the University continues to provide her with plenty of projects and has given her many administrative and teaching roles. She has developed courses, taught in computer information sciences, math and education departments and even served in administrative roles as the associate vice president of academic affairs and dean of the honors program.
She has created assessment tools for the University and helped lead the implementation of its information system, Banner. She also served as director for the Center for Undergraduate Studies and Programs.
In her unique role as an administrator in a variety of areas on campus and as a teacher, she has had opportunities that are made available for faculty to develop their teaching abilities and for students to gain from experiences they don’t receive in the classroom such as service learning or involvement in organizations.
“It’s very helpful to have the discretionary funds we can use to respond immediately toward good ideas,” she said. “Even if it’s just $50 or as much as $500, we can encourage innovation and support faculty by providing funding to bring good ideas to fruition.”
LaLonde herself has made an annual gift to Washburn for more than 20 years because she believes in the University’s teaching-first mission and focus it puts on the students’ education.
“I really appreciate the opportunities students have at Washburn – whether it’s a student who just graduated from high school or a student who made different life choices coming in as an older adult – we give everyone the same learning opportunities,” she said.
LaLonde plays a pivotal role in providing research opportunities, helping students find their career path and even educating middle schoolers in an annual computer camp. But when asked what she does, she says she’s a teacher.
“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher because I love learning,” she said. “I really believe you can’t be an effective administrator if you can’t stay grounded in what you’re doing.”
Because she believes there is no more important endeavor than education, she accepted her current role in 2012 as interim chair of the education department.
“I’m passionate about science and math education, and our colleagues in K-12 education have so many challenges right now,” she said. “If we are going to make this world a better place, we need to provide quality service to our educators.”