Dr. Schmitt stepped down from her 16-year position as dean on July 31, 2012, and she spent the past two months traveling and enjoying time with her family.
A certified rehabilitation counselor, Dr. Schmitt was compassionate, generous and an advocate for equity and social justice. She was committed to making a difference for the disabled, serving on state and national committees, writing about disabled women in higher education and work-status outcomes of blind women, and publishing manuals addressing accessibility needs for disabled travelers and conference attendees.
Dr. Schmitt touched many lives during her remarkable career as an administrator, educator and scholar. At Seattle University, she led the College of Education through multiple major accreditations. She helped launch graduate-student immersion experiences, secured millions of dollars in grant funding, established scholarships for underrepresented students, championed efforts to establish a diverse faculty and student body, and hosted major conversations on education reform.
She was known for her persistency. She secured a grant that resulted in two free-standing non-profit institutions serving severely disabled persons, designed and implemented one of the first independent living apartment complexes in the nation, and wrote a National Science Foundation grant to serve disabled Native American students to enhance their math and science capabilities.
She was well respected and received numerous awards recognizing her work including the Golden Medallion Award from the Federal Interagency Committee for International Year of Disabled (1982), Who’s Who in American Women (1989) and the Wisconsin Rehabilitation Individual of the Year (1980). She was listed in the Directory of Barrier Free Design Consultants.
Dr. Schmitt had served as dean and professor in the College for Human Resources at the University of North Dakota, where she had also served as associate vice president for academic affairs. She served at the University of Wisconsin, Stout, as deputy vice chancellor and professor of rehabilitation, department chair and director of the Independent Living Center. Dr. Schmitt also served as the administrative associate to the vice president for academic affairs of the University of Wisconsin System Administration.
Dr. Schmitt received the outstanding alumni award from Viterbo College, where she received a B.A. in English, and she was a Bush Leadership Fellow at Mississippi State University where she received her educational doctorate in Counselor Education. She was among a select group of educational leaders to participate in Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management.
Dr. Schmitt was born on Jan. 27, 1946 in Caledonia, Minn. She was preceded in death by her parents, Edward and O’delia Schmitt, two brothers, Ted and Freddie Schmitt, and a grandniece, Julia Myhre. She is survived by her sister, Sylvia Myhre (Butch) of Wisconsin, her sister-in-law, Anne Schmitt of Iowa, her niece Amy Kadolph (Chris), her nephews Chris Myhre (Laura), Lance Schmitt (Dana) and Ben Schmitt, three grandnieces, Ella Kadolph, Sophia Myhre and Ella Schmitt and three grandnephews, Adam Myhre, Isaak Schmitt and Leo Kadolph, as well as her “big sister,” Dolly Moore.
The Dr. Sue A. Schmitt Scholarship Fund has been established to honor her memory and the legacy she has left at Seattle University. The fund will support the academic advancement of underrepresented students enrolled in the College of Education, a commitment that Dr. Schmitt championed during the course of her career. For more information, including how to contribute to the fund, please call 206-296-1896. A memorial service will be held at a later date in Caledonia.