Robert Mitchell

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    Robert H. and Kathleen Digges Distinguished Professorship

    Dr. Kathleen Grega Digges received a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology from Western Washington State College in 1971. She also received a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology from the University of Washington. She later studied medicine, receiving a Doctor of Medicine degree from Georgetown University in 1975. For many years, she enjoyed a career in medicine both in General Surgery and Obstetrics and Gynecology. Kathleen believed that the positive experiences she had as a student in the Geology Department at Western Washington State College helped create the foundation from which she achieved academic and career success. She believed that the student-centered environment at Western helped to develop important interpersonal relationships and foster a deep appreciation of nature. She passed away in late December, 2008.

    Robert Digges is a member of one of the oldest families in Virginia. His ancestors settled in Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown in 1620 to begin a legacy of community leadership and philanthropy that has continued through to the present. Robert earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1959 and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business, in 1961. He has been self-employed since his junior year in college and has built successful careers in construction, real estate development, banking and the electronics manufacturing industry.

    Robert and Kathleen Digges share a deep commitment to the value of education and it is in recognition of the outstanding education Kathleen received at Western and the support and mentoring she received in the Geology Department from Dr. Ross Ellis, Dr. Peter Misch and Dr. Randall (Scott) Babcock, that they established four endowments to benifit WWU's Geology Department.

    • Robert H. and Kathleen Digges Distinguished Professorship to support a geology faculty with teaching, research, and service in the area of engineering geology.


    • Steven and Edith Grega Memorial Fellowship to be awarded to a graduate student who has a special interest in engineering geology.


    • Peter Misch Metamorphic Memorial Fellowship to be awarded to a graduate student who has a special interest in metamorphic petrology.


    • Ross Ellis Geology Field Trip Fund to support students in field courses.



    Engineering Geology

    Why engineering geology? Population growth, increased land development, and environmental regulation in the Pacific Northwest region have driven the demand for engineering geologists. According to Washington State "the practice of engineering geology involves the interpretation, evaluation, analysis, and application of geological information and data to civil works." Engineering geologists work in areas such as the geotechnical evaluation of unconsolidated deposits and rocks for civil engineering projects; the mitigation of geologic hazards including earthquakes, landslides, flooding, and coastal erosion; evaluation of timber harvesting impacts; and groundwater remediation and resource evaluation.

    Washington State regulates the practice of engineering geology and requires professional licensing. Although the State requires licensure, no university in the state is providing the academic training necessary for engineering geologists. The Geology Department's goal, and my charge, is to make use of the resources available from the Digges Professorship and develop an engineering geology program that will attract majors to WWU, serve the needs of the state, and satisfy the student-centered spirit valued by the Digges'.