|EIU President William Perry with Gwendolyn Jordan Dungy|
Renowned educator and counselor Gwendolyn Jordan Dungy of Columbia, Md., received an honorary Doctor of Pedagogy degree from Eastern Illinois University today in recognition of her commitment to and achievements in education.
As a young woman, Dungy -- then of the Chicago area -- never planned to go to college. Instead, she took an exam to be a long-distance telephone operator -- a job that paid $45 a week. One day, however, sitting up on a little bench at the switchboard, she thought, “I don’t want to do this.”
She recalled… “My high school had offered me a teaching scholarship at Eastern Illinois University. So I went back and said, ‘Do you still have that scholarship?’ And they did. I barreled on down to Eastern Illinois. It was 1962. I did my student teaching in an all-white school, and I was terrified. Being observed one day, I actually passed out.”
Dungy persevered and, in 1965, graduated from Eastern with her bachelor’s degree in English. Two years later, she earned her master’s degree in educational psychology and guidance, with an emphasis in community counseling. After completing her studies at EIU, she earned a second master’s degree from Drew University in New Jersey and a doctorate from Washington University in St. Louis. Currently, she is a licensed psychologist and a nationally certified professional counselor and career counselor.
Throughout her career, Dungy has served as a counseling faculty member at St. Louis Community College; a senior administrator at the County College of Morris (New Jersey) and at Montgomery College and Catonsville Community College, both in Maryland; and as associate director of the Curriculum and Faculty Development Network and coordinator of the National Diversity Network at the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
In 1995, with nearly 30 years of experience in higher education, she was chosen to lead NASPA – Student Affairs Administrators in High Education as its president. With more than 11,000 members at 1,400 campuses representing 29 countries, NASPA is the foremost professional association for student affairs personnel. It and its members are committed to the development of the whole student in higher education and are dedicated to student learning both inside and outside of the classroom. During her 17-year tenure, Dungy served as a spokesperson for student affairs internationally, as well as domestically.
Current NASPA President Kevin Kruger praised Dungy for her “extraordinary leadership.” “Perhaps her finest achievement, however, is her humanity,” he said. “She cares deeply about the people with whom she works and interacts. She has been a mentor to hundreds of young professional women and professionals of color in helping them reach their own dreams in higher education. She has been a forceful leader in the national higher education scene to advance the important work of student affairs and to advocate for the reason we are all here – the students.”
Dungy is a 1995 recipient of Eastern’s Distinguished Alumni Award and a 2012 recipient of the Outstanding Graduate Alumni Award. Since graduating from Eastern Illinois University, she has dedicated her career to enriching the lives and learning experiences of students in higher education and equipping student affairs professionals with the best knowledge and tools needed to serve the students on their campuses.