By Shannon Dale
“The greatest joy from my home economics education program was the people,” shares Ann Vail, Ph.D. (’81 vocational home economics education). “Both the faculty and students contributed to the richness of my experience at Colorado State University. I remain friends with many people who also pursued this degree. I continue to draw on the wisdom and examples of the wonderful faculty.”
Because of Vail’s significant achievements and leadership in higher education, she is a 2016 recipient of the CHHS Outstanding Alumna Award, which honors outstanding alumni from the college who, through their distinguished careers and/or service to the university, state, nation, or world, have brought honor to Colorado State University and themselves.
After graduating from CSU, Vail went on to earn her master’s and Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in family and consumer sciences. Her career has taken her around the country through a number of leadership roles at Iowa State University, New Mexico State, University of Idaho, and Ohio State. Today, Vail is the director of the School of Human Environmental Sciences, assistant director of Family and Consumer Sciences Extension, and interim dean of the College of Social Work at the University of Kentucky.
“Since I graduated in home economics, I’ve seen the field evolve into family and consumer sciences education, and today it is much more family-focused to better serve individuals and families,” said Vail.
Vail has led the charge to improve the health and well-being of individuals and families through her efforts to help establish the Kentucky Academy in Adjeikrom, Ghana. Further, Vail’s leadership played a key role in the creation of the USDA Rural Child Poverty Nutrition Center, which seeks to help reduce child food insecurity in the state with the highest number of persistently poor rural counties.
In an effort to further reach communities in need, Vail is involved in initiatives to promote home ownership as a means of improving a community’s economic stability. She was also the co-developer of Family Times, a parenting and family education newsletter that was distributed to more than 460,000 households.
“Ann is well known and respected, and always provides a strong, well-informed voice and leadership for the FCS profession. I’ve truly enjoyed my opportunities to work with her,” says Dawn Mallette, assistant professor and coordinator for the Family and Consumer Sciences program.
Vail was awarded the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences Leader Award. In 1997, The Ohio State University recognized her as one of their Outstanding 100 Human Ecology Alumni of the Past 100 Years.
“I am pleased and humbled to receive the CHHS Outstanding Alumna Award. There is something about being recognized by the institution that formed you into a professional that is very special. I am grateful to Colorado State for providing me with the education that enabled me to have a career that I enjoy very much,” shared Vail. “Today, I am fortunate to be in an administrative role at the University of Kentucky that allows me to give back and hopefully do the same for other students.”
Three CHHS alumni award recipients were recognized at the College of Health and Human Sciences Homecoming Breakfast. Nate Easley also received the Outstanding Alumnus Award and Dawn Clifford received the Emerging Leader Award.