AAEP celebrates retirement of Professor and former Chair, Dr. Debbie Smith-Shank

May 3, 2018
Professor Debbie Smith-Shank at her office retirement party on April 30

Today, we celebrate the retirement and legacy of Professor Debbie Smith-Shank, who has been with us for almost ten years as full professor and department chair. Dr. Smith-Shank shepherded AAEP through an identity-transforming departmental consolidation and name change, the great pilgrimage from the stadium to Sullivant Hall, four Barnett Symposia, the founding of the Barnett Center for Integrated Arts and Enterprise, and the hiring of Business Manager Michelle Attias, Program Assistant Brian Javor, Director of Field Experiences Mark McGuire, and Academic Program Coordinator Lauren Pace. She has advised more than 14 MA and PhD students from program admission through the successful defense of their respective dissertations, not including those dissertation committees on which she served as a doctoral committee member. She has mentored countless students and anyone who knows her has witnessed her advocacy, her loyalty and her commitment to the field of Art Education.

The department has also benefitted from Dr. Smith-Shank’s extensive scholarship focusing on material culture and social justice examined through semiotic and feminist lenses. It is not possible to capture all of her accomplishments in a short post, but she has been awarded the Ziegfeld InSEA Award honoring an arts educator who has forged new directions in the field, the USSEA Kenneth Marantz Distinguished Fellowship Award for her culturally inclusive service and leadership contributions, the NAEA Women’s Caucus June King McFee Award for exceptional lifetime achievements in art education, and the NAEA Women’s Caucus Maryl Fletcher DeJong Award for her contributions to eliminating discrimination in the field.

As we move forward, we can further Dr. Smith-Shank’s legacy by loving fiercely and unabashedly; embracing the present and the process, wherein we can follow our artistic impulses to unknown conclusions; keeping Maya Angelou’s “Life Doesn’t Frighten Me” mantra close at hand; breaking the rules sometimes, especially when guided by one’s moral compass; and cleaning our dirty dishes within the hour. She will be sorely missed.

Dr. Smith-Shank will continue to serve the department and advise students as Faculty Emerita, from her new residence in Laguna Beach, CA. She can be contacted at the same email address you have always used for her, smith-shank.1@osu.edu.