I was heartbroken to receive the news that Dr. Mildred Beatrice Bulpitt, Founder of AAWCC and Leaders Institute, passed away on August 21. Although I never had the honor of meeting her in person, I believe I had begun to know her intimately through her interviews and writings. I didn't fully understand her greatness until I was asked to speak about women in community colleges at the Michigan Community College Association's Summer Workshop. Through the research, I found a new person to celebrate and appreciate! Dr. Bulpitt’s courage, persistence, and moxie captured my inner being. I now understood what great sacrifices had been made so that I could sit in the president’s chair. For that, I will always cherish Mildred, and the multitude of other unknown individuals, that came before me and made a courageous stand for equality in community colleges.
Dr. Bulpitt was a warrior to the end. Long after she retired, she continued to encourage women to have the confidence to move to the head of the line and take the reins of leadership gallantly. I am pleased that she lived to see the fruits of her labor as the number of female community college presidents has increased from approximately 50 in 1980 (when the Leaders Institute began) to 344 in 2015.
Today, I challenge us to remember Dr. Bulpitt and her important work by increasing the number of women in key decision-making roles at every community college. We need to work together to push females through the leadership pipeline and be intentional about moving the needle. Dr. Bulpitt's legacy, and her spirit, remains in all of us. Let's continue what she started!
Beverly Walker-Griffea, Ph.D.
Immediate Past President, AAWCC