Pamela Gates has carried several titles since coming to Central Michigan University as a graduate student in 1989.
Now, she can add “Woman of the Year” to the list.
Gates, dean of the College of Humanities and Social and Behavioral Sciences, was presented with the Woman of the Year award by the CMU branch of the Michigan American Council on Education Network for Women Leaders in Higher Education.
“It’s amazing,” Gates said. “You don’t do things because you expect to receive an honor, you do things because you love your work and believe in what you do.”
Though Gates has been involved with CMU for 20 years, it was not always her plan to root her life in the education system. She did not initially intend to go to college at all, she said, but a fateful family move to Arizona altered her perspective.
“I never even planned on going to college,” she said. “I moved to a place where they expected all of their students to go to college.”
Gates said she has seen a great deal of positive change in how women are treated since entering the higher-education workforce, though some work remains for women to get equal footing with men.
“I came through a period of time where there were few women in terms of professors and administrators,” she said. “We’ve always had the education, credentials and fortitude for the work (but) we weren’t always given the opportunities.”
Gates is known for her role in helping out Central Michigan University faculty.
“Her track record of mentoring and teaching others definitely stands out,” said Amy McGinnis, co-chairwoman of the committee that chose Gates for the award.
Beyond her work as a dean, Gates mentors women in the Mount Pleasant community fighting breast cancer.
She is a survivor of the disease and her history with it reaches back to her childhood.
“My own mother died of breast cancer at 41,” she said. “This has been a part of my life since I was about 12 years old.”
Monica Holmes, professor of business information systems, has known Gates for years. She said Gates has always been a strong proponent of women.
“She has always supported our initiatives,” Holmes said. “I think she does her job very well.”