Dr. Willene Paxton will be the speaker at both of East Tennessee State University’s fall Commencement exercises, scheduled at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 17, in the ETSU/Mountain States Health Alliance Athletic Center (the Mini-Dome).
Paxton came to ETSU in 1963 as the dean of women, responsible for supervising women students’ housing, campus sororities, women’s honor societies, the establishment and decoration of new residence halls, and arranging dances, as well as major concerts and activities.
Paxton left ETSU long enough to earn a doctoral degree in education at Indiana University, but returned to establish ETSU’s Counseling Center, which she directed until her retirement in 1993.
In addition to her doctorate, Paxton also holds degrees from Birmingham Southern College and Michigan State University.
Before arriving at ETSU, Paxton held positions of increasing administrative responsibility at Texas Technological University, the State University of New York Teachers College in Fredonia and the University of New Mexico.
An active and valued participant in the ETSU community, Paxton is a member of the ETSU Distinguished President’s Trust Society. In 2007, she developed and funded the Paxton Lectureship on Civic Engagement, which brings notable authors and educators to speak on campus. In addition, Paxton has served as secretary, vice-president and president of the ETSU Retirees Association and was a member of the ETSU Centennial Steering Committee.
A leader at the local, regional and national levels in many professional education and counseling organizations, Paxton has been state president of both the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International and the Tennessee Association of Women Deans and Counselors. She has been affiliated with most of the professional organizations in her field and is listed in “Who’s Who in America” and “Who’s Who in the World.”
Also involved in civic and religious affairs, Paxton was president of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs Monday Club of Johnson City from 2008-2010. She chaired the boards of CONTACT Teleministries and Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church, where one of the committees she chaired initiated the Melting Pot breakfasts for the homeless. She served on the board and several committees for the Asbury Retirement Centers in the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church, and she was selected as “Area Volunteer Quarterback” for the Titans professional football team.
Paxton resides in Johnson City.