Former Dean of the Darden College of Education Passes Away at 71
September 17, 2019
Linda Irwin-DeVitis, who served as dean of Old Dominion University's Darden College of Education from 2010 to 2013, passed away on Sunday. She was 71.
During her tenure as dean, Irwin-DeVitis oversaw the college's rise to a No. 65 national ranking and a successful National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) reaccreditation as well as several important discipline-specific reaccreditations. She also led the planning for Education Building, among many other initiatives. The Board of Visitors approved awarding her the title of Professor Emerita of Teaching and Learning in 2016.
"I know the Old Dominion University community joins me in mourning the passing of former Dean Linda Irwin-DeVitis," President John R. Broderick said. "She and her husband, Joe, were well respected and liked across the campus and throughout the Hampton Roads community."
Irwin-DeVitis, who spent nearly 50 years in the education field, returned to teaching and research in the college's Department of Teaching and Learning after stepping down as dean due to health reasons.
"Linda's contributions and accomplishments to the Darden College of Education and Professional Studies were immeasurable," Dean Jane Bray said. "She worked endlessly to chart the future of the college by engaging faculty, staff, students, alumni and external stakeholders in a strategic focusing process to provide a strategy for positioning Darden College competitively."
William Owings, professor of educational foundations and leadership at ODU, and his wife, Leslie Kaplan, remembered Irwin DeVitis as a "wonderful woman, wife, scholar, leader and friend."
"She was a loving wife to Joe, mother to their daughter, and grandmother of three," they said. "As a scholar, she was always reading and staying current with the literature and emerging issues in education. At dinner, we would mention a topic, and she would fill us in with the history, the people, the politics and the issue's meaning for education. As a leader, she was a collaborator. Once she took 12 key faculty in the college to San Diego State University to explore how they were engaging with the community to improve teaching and learning in local schools. She was a skilled host who threw the best parties with lively guests and plenty of good food and drink. As a friend, we will miss her dearly."
Irwin-DeVitis was a nationally recognized author of several renowned books on education, including "50 Graphic Organizers for K-8 Classrooms: Templates and Strategies" and "Graphic Organizers: Strategies for Authentic Learning," - as well as numerous articles for a variety of refereed publications, including the English Journal, Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, Educational Studies, Middle School Journal and Reading Research and Instruction. Her co-edited book (with her husband Joe) "Adolescent Education" won the Critics Choice Award from the American Educational Studies Association as one of the outstanding academic books in social foundations of education in 2011.
Before coming to ODU, she had been on the faculty at the University of Tennessee at Martin, State University College at Oneonta and Binghamton University (SUNY), and the University of Louisville, where she served as associate dean. Her administrative career included seven years as dean of the John H. Lounsbury College of Education at Georgia College.
"Linda was a wonderful dean for the College of Education at ODU," said Maurice Berube, Eminent Scholar Emeritus of educational leadership at ODU. "She had a vision for what education should be and held high expectations for faculty and students. Linda wanted her students to be critical thinkers and give back to American society. Always an advocate for social change in the nation, she worked on the ground level with groups for a better America. Linda was also a great friend. She was very engaging in conversation and she cared greatly for those she loved and those who loved her."
Irwin-DeVitis earned her Ed.D. University of Tennessee in curriculum and instruction reading and linguistics; an M.Ed. from the University of New Orleans curriculum and instruction reading/administration; and a B.S. from University of Tennessee in secondary education English. She taught for 16 years in public schools in Louisiana and Florida.
She wanted to be cremated and have her ashes spread out in the Great Smokey Mountains, where there will be a private ceremony this spring.
You can send condolences to her husband, Joe, who lives at 23579 Margrave Drive, Leonardtown, Md. 20650. Memorial donations may be made to the Court Appointed Special Advocate Association (CASA), an organization DeVitas did work for that provides judicial and educational assistance for young people involved in the juvenile justice system. For details, go to this link.