In Memoriam: Joanne Washburn, 1937-2020

Joanne Washburn, a former faculty member and long-time administrator at Washington State University, died on September 15 at her home in Pullman, Washington. She was 83 years old.

Washburn served as the women’s athletic director at Washington State from 1965-82, presiding over unparalleled growth of the women’s athletics program. During her tenure, the women’s athletic program grew to eight varsity sports and the budget grew from a mere $2,000 to more than $1 million.

In 1979, Washburn, along with 12 other coaches and 39 student athletes, filed a lawsuit against the university for failing to comply with Title IX, the 1972 federal law mandating gender equity for educational institutions receiving federal financial support. Blair v. Washington State University became a landmark women’s rights case.

Following her time as an administrator, Washburn was a full-time associate professor in the department of physical education (1983-93), then as an associate professor in the department of educational leadership and counseling psychology, from 1993 through her retirement in 2004.

A native of Lynden, Vermont, Washburn was a graduate of the University of Connecticut. She earned a master’s degree at Washington State University.

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  1. […] Joanne Washburn was one of the biggest pioneers in bringing equality to women’s college sports.  […]

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