Professor devotes career to on-campus causes

Lifetime achievement awardee chose attending WSU over Motown record deal, says it was best decision of his life



WSU Professor Ron Mittelhammer talks about the unique relationship between faculty and students at WSU and why he chose to attend graduate school here Monday at Hulbert Hall. “My first love and my last love is teaching and research,” he says.

NAPHTALI CALLES, Evergreen reporter

A WSU regents professor in the School of Economic Sciences, Ron Mittelhammer, received the V. Lane Rawlins President’s Award for Distinguished Lifetime Service for his dedication to bettering the university.

“I am thrilled to win this award,” Mittelhammer said. “I never expected it, but it happened, and I am so glad to have it.”

Jill McCluskey, professor for the School of Economic Sciences, said Mittelhammer always wants to make things better at WSU. Mittelhammer worked to establish a program in statistics, so students could simultaneously get a master’s and doctorate.

“I got my undergraduate from Rutgers University in New Jersey,” Mittelhammer said. “For graduate school, I could have gone to Penn State, Cornell, Purdue or here — and I decided here, it was the best decision of my life.”

He said he admires V. Lane Rawlins for being a great WSU president, and the fact that it was his award meant a lot to him.

McCluskey said faculty and students admire his dedication and how he interacts with people. He is highly respected for all that he has done for the university.

“I don’t think I’ve done anything in my life to win awards, I am thrilled to receive it, but I think … [I won because] I was always dedicated to [WSU],” Mittelhammer said. “It wasn’t just a paycheck to me, I wanted to contribute to the community.”

Mittelhammer was the director for the School of Economic Sciences for six years and was an interim co-provost for one year.

McCluskey said Mittelhammer is a smart researcher and figures out solutions to problems that make things better.

“He’s an enthusiastic supporter of Washington State University. He has had season football tickets ever since he’s gotten here,” she said. “If you see him, you’ll see that every single day he has one piece of Cougar gear on; I don’t think he owns one piece of clothing without WSU on it.”

McCluskey said Mittelhammer paid his way through college by playing in a band and was offered a record by Motown records before he decided to go to graduate school.

“It was fascinating getting offered a record deal, but WSU is truly where my heart was, and I know that this was the right decision for me,” Mittelhammer said.

He said after four years of his graduate degree at WSU, he was thrilled to stay.

“When I got [to WSU] I found a special nature of Washington State University, the student-professor relationship is really close,” Mittelhammer said. “You’re not a number, you’re a name, it’s just a very warm, community feeling.”