The Department of Economics is honored to announce the recipient of the inaugural Kathy Gehrt Memorial Economics Volunteer Service Award: alumna Kathy Gehrt, who was selected by unanimous vote of the Economics Visiting Committee. One of the department's most ardent supporters, Kathy passed away this spring from complications related to a brain tumor.
In recognition of her dedication to UW Economics, department leadership agreed that renaming the award the Kathy Gehrt Memorial Economics Volunteer Service Award was a fitting tribute to Kathy, providing a lasting reminder of her inspiring volunteerism and commitment to UW Economics.
Established this year, this award seeks to recognize the efforts of a department volunteer who has made a significant difference in the department through his or her involvement. Specifically, the award recognizes an outstanding commitment to the mission, programs, and people of the department, as demonstrated in any number of ways: service to the department as an instructor, undergraduate or graduate mentor, alumni outreach coordinator, visiting committee member, regional representative, or other contributions of time, service, and philanthropy.
Several highly deserving individuals were nominated this year in a testament to their extraordinary volunteer efforts that have encouraged others to support the Department of Economics through time, service and philanthropy.
Kathy earned both her BA (’75) and MA (’77) degrees in economics at UW, and was an active volunteer and supporter of the department. In addition to serving on the Economics Visiting Committee continuously since 1998, and as the first female chair of the committee from 2004-2006, Kathy was also an undergraduate mentor to several students and spoke frequently at student-run career seminars. She had been an annual supporter of funds in the department that provide student scholarships since 1994.
Kathy was honored by the department in 2004 as the Economics Distinguished Alumna, an award that recognizes an alumnus whose professional achievements and cumulative contributions have brought personal distinction, enhanced the profession, improved the welfare of the general public, and brought honor to their alma mater. She gave the commencement address to the department’s graduating class of 2004.
The nominations of Kathy were indicative of her impact upon the department's community:
“Kathy truly had the ability to bring the best out in everyone. She'd say ‘No need to improvise, if you just speak from your heart.’ She always took the time to and effort to find out how she could help, and was so graceful and kind in pointing out what our challenges would be, and was so warm and understanding in suggesting certain solutions for us to consider at the time. What a gal and how lucky we all were to know her.”
“Kathy’s generous nature and enthusiasm for life were infectious. She was a truly delightful person who inspired people to be their best selves . She will be greatly missed by her many friends in the department.”