Nancy Tate’s bittersweet retirement

On June 30 of this year, Washburn University will lose one of its most important assets, as employee Dr. Nancy Tate is set to retire. Tate has been employed by the university for 34 years, and currently serves as the Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs. 

In 1985, Tate moved from Stillwater, Oklahoma with her husband who found a job in the Topeka area, which left Tate searching for a job. She happened to come across a vacancy for an assistant professor opening in the math and computer information sciences department at Washburn and was quickly hired on. 

Since her hiring, Tate moved up quickly within the University and consistently found opportunities for many different positions throughout her career. Serving positions such as chairperson of the computer information sciences department and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. 

“I call it serendipity,” Tate said. “If you have the skills, and the desire to do better things, you can move up.” 

Although she mentioned that she still had to have the proper work ethic, passion and mindset.

 “And Washburn has been a great place as a woman,” Tate said. “There has not been, what I say, a glass ceiling.”

Tate’s day to day includes meetings, emails, writing and working through problems that advisors might have with their students. She admits that one of her favorite aspects to her job is problem-solving. 

“I see my role as maintaining the integrity of our degrees and our majors, but also being an advocate for the student and helping them succeed,” said Tate. 

Along with her duties as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Tate is involved with a number of committees at Washburn.

“There are tons of meetings,” Tate said. “I’m a chair or a member of at least 15 committees.”

For Tate’s decision on retiring from her position, she felt as if the end of this semester would be a good time for her to leave. 

“I want to make sure I leave the University in a good position, as far as their accreditation.” Tate said, as she is the accreditation liaison officer with the Higher Learning Commission. 

“This seemed like a good time, give somebody else a chance.”

Although Tate is set to retire, she will still faze out throughout the next year to oversee projects, committees and help with the transition.

Joseph Desota the Executive Administrator for Academic affairs and works closely with Tate, says that Tate leaving is something that will affect the entire university.

“Dr. Tate is the backbone of the academic perspective for the University,” Desota said. “She’s one of those people that are the heart of an institution, and she will be very missed.” 

As for Tate’s plans for post-retirement, she will participate in volunteering, in more ballroom dancing with her husband and will travel often.

“My bucket list is to go to every continent, I’ve been to all except for Australia.” Tate said, as she has already checked off Antarctica two years ago. 

As for her legacy at Washburn, she hopes that she is leaving the university better than when she had found it.

“I hope I’m remembered as someone who has always been in support of this institution,” Tate said. “I really love this University. It has been my home for over 34 years.”