Dean Robbin Crabtree named Distinguished Woman in Higher Education

Submitted by Carolyn Arnold, Associate Director, Marketing & Communications on May 22, 2013

By Meredith Guinness

Dr. Robbin Crabtree, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) at Fairfield University, received the 2013 Distinguished Administrative Woman in Higher Education Award presented by the Connecticut American Council on Education (ACE) Women’s Network. The award is designed to recognize and honor those Connecticut women who have distinguished themselves by providing outstanding leadership to women in their institutions, in their profession, and in society-at-large.

ACE AWARDS  4

Dean Crabtree was named Distinguished Administrative Woman in Higher Education Award presented by the Connecticut American Council on Education (ACE) Women’s Network

Dr. Crabtree, a Fairfield, Conn. resident, received the award at the organization’s 2013 spring conference at the University of Hartford.

“I am very pleased and proud the committee singled out Dean Robbin Crabtree,” said the Rev. Paul Fitzgerald, S.J., the University’s senior vice president for academic affairs. “Robbin’s service to Fairfield University’s Jesuit mission is exemplary in so many ways. She demonstrates on a daily basis her deep understanding of, and commitment to, Jesuit ideals of intellectual rigor, integrative ways of thinking, knowing and creating, and a willing spirit of civic engagement and social responsibility in the education of all our students for the sake of human dignity and social justice. She does all this with passion, with joy, and with a generosity of spirit that is truly infectious.”

Dean since 2008, Dr. Crabtree has shown a commitment to diversity and the mentoring of women in many ways. Of the 30 faculty members she has hired, 50 percent are women and a third are members of historically under-represented groups or international scholars. She has appointed and mentored at least 10 first-time women department chairs, many in departments that have never had a female chair.

“My generation of faculty often were not mentored very well, but we need to do better for the next generation,” said Dr. Crabtree. “As a former department chair, I know how important it is to have guidance about professional development, and support for balancing the many responsibilities and demands facing chairs, particularly when we are motivated to change our departments for the better and make lasting contributions to the university. As dean, I want to create the conditions in which faculty can thrive, so that they are able to succeed in their research and create meaningful engagements for our students in and beyond the classroom. It’s a ‘pay it forward’ kind of process; the better folks are mentored, the better mentors they also will be for their students and their colleagues. I also learn so much in the process. Mentoring is a two-way street, so I really see it as ‘co-mentoring.’”

Prior to being appointed dean, Dr. Crabtree was professor of communication and the founding director of Fairfield’s Office of Service Learning. She came to the University in 2001 from New Mexico State University, where she was an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies. She was chair of the Department of Communication at Fairfield from 2001 to 2007.

Dr. Crabtree was named Teacher of the Year in 2007 by Fairfield’s chapter of Alpha Sigma Nu, the Jesuit honor society. She has published more than 40 scholarly articles and chapters and presented papers at academic conferences across the country and in several international contexts.

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