Farewell, AMDT: Chair Joan Ellis says goodbye

Joan Ellis
Joan Ellis, AMDT chair, chats with students. Ellis retires this spring after a 16-year career at Washington State University.

As I wrap up a 25-year career in the textile and apparel industry—16 of those at Washington State University—and begin the sorting and packing, I am afforded a special time to pause and reflect.

Each computer file I open and each pile of papers I sort stirs a memory of engaging in research, teaching and outreach activities… what rich experiences I have had!

In my first semester at WSU, while attending the new faculty orientation in what was, at that time, the College of Agriculture and Home Economics, I was given a handful of bluish-green glass stones. I was told to think of them as “stepping stones” and each was to remind me of a special someone—a mentor, coach or peer who helped me reach my goals. The handful was small but mighty.

Today, as I scoop up that handful of dusty glass stones from my windowsill to pack away, I am reminded how the list of those who have helped me along the way has grown tremendously since joining WSU.  I could now re-tile the floor in my office with those 16 years of “stepping stones.” My heart is full and thank you seems so insufficient a sentiment.

My legacy will be leaving WSU and AMDT better than I found it. We have better facilities, fabulous faculty with impactful research programs, solid teaching and learning experiences for our students, professional staff and instructors, and industry engagement that is the envy of our peers across the United States and beyond. Did I do all of this? Not alone. I would, however, like to think I represent a few bluish green glass stepping stones on windowsills across this great university.

My message to the faculty and staff of AMDT is to stay true to the course, be strong and brag a lot. Teach with passion and research with impacts as a driver, not just numbers of publications or proposals. Work together and learn to play together. Support each other and be positive—it’s contagious.

My message to the AMDT alumni base and industry supporters is to remember your stepping stones. Come back and visit, and help support this amazing group of faculty and students. We need you!

I wish you all a warm Aloha and a heartfelt Mahalo!