Power awarded WSU Outstanding Department Chair/School Director

PULLMAN, Wash.—Dr. Tom Power, chair of Human Development and program director of the doctoral program in Prevention Science has been awarded the 2014 WSU Outstanding Department Chair/School Director.

Power is the first to receive the award. Daniel Bernardo, interim provost and executive vice president of WSU created the award to celebrate excellence in unit-level leadership.

(l to r) Mittelhammer, Power, Bernardo
(l to r) Mittelhammer, Power, Bernardo

“They [department chairs] have one of the most difficult jobs at the university, and collectively represent perhaps the most underappreciated group at WSU,” Bernardo said.

Power received the award in recognition of his leadership of the Department of Human Development over the past 10 years.

“Most notably, Tom was able to transform a department largely focused on undergraduate education to one characterized by excellence across undergraduate education, graduate education, research and engagement,” said Bernardo. “Of equal importance is how he accomplished this transformation – he did so without marginalizing any of the faculty and by recognizing everyone in the unit for their contributions to this multi-faceted mission.”

Since arriving at WSU in 2000, Power’s accomplishments as a researcher, teacher and administrator, as well as his contributions to the personal and professional development of WSU faculty, staff, and students have increased the overall value of his department.

“Tom Power is truly a unique leader who has distinguished himself not only by his many personal accomplishments, but most notably by his efforts directed toward the professional growth of the Human Development Department,” wrote Ron Mittelhammer, interim dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences, in his nomination letter. “He has been a monumentally effective visionary and leader of the department who has raised the reputation of the department from being respected, to being nationally renowned and admired.

When Power joined WSU, the master’s-level graduate program had only five students and a few faculty members actively engaged in research. He developed a strategic plan to make Human Development sustainable and research-focused.

“The results have been spectacular,” said Louise Parker, a professor and Extension specialist for Human Development, who went on to list a number of Power’s achievements as chair, including numerous federal grants for integrated research/extension and translational research projects; a new interdisciplinary PhD program in Prevention Science that attracts high-quality faculty from diverse units at WSU and graduate students from across the country; and a strong record of scholarship from faculty publishing and presenting in venues that represent a variety of professional arenas in prevention.

Power is particularly proud of the accomplishments of his students and faculty. He has enjoyed being in a position that allows him to support the professional development of so many people.


“I have accomplished my goals by collaborating with the faculty…treating everyone with respect,” Power said, “being available and accessible, and dealing with problems directly and collaboratively.”

Mittelhammer added, “He has given selflessly over the course of his time as chair and has made profound and lasting impacts on Washington State University.”

Power received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Michigan State University (1976) and his master’s degree and doctorate in developmental psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1980). In addition to his book Play and Exploration in Children and Animals, Power has authored numerous book chapters and more than 180 publications and presentations, including more than 85 peer-reviewed journal articles.


Kate Wilhite, CAHNRS Communications, 509-335-8164, kate.wilhite@wsu.edu