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The 2022 Women of UD

Catherine W. Mix

Catherine Mix



Mid-pandemic, Catherine Mix, who was overseeing student financial aid, picked up another bullet point in her job description: oversight of Flyer Student Services. She wasted no time in telling her staff what she expected of them: “Self-care. I could see the challenges ahead of us because of the increasing volume in need and levels of financial strain from students and families. I knew the toll that would take on us as a team, to be able to continually step up.” Mix immediately adopted the practice of sincerely closing staff meetings by saying “take care of yourselves and take care of each other.” She continues to say that today recognizing that “we’re still in this moment where the level of uncertainty and constant pressure on people, professionally and personally, is so high.”

With creative vision, Mix saw that taking on the additional responsibilities could be truly beneficial to the University, and especially to the students and families it serves. “The pandemic really gave us a good moment to reimagine the Flyer Student Services office.” During peak pandemic moments, Mix said worried families were calling with questions about housing, financial aid, billing, registration, and other topics, and she knew each of those offices were doing the best they could. She and her team thought about what a good service experience would look like. “What if a student could call one office and get a full answer to their questions, like ‘What will be the impact of changing my classes to my billing and to my financial aid.’” Mix is pleased with the evolution of the office service level, and attributes the success not only to her team’s creativity, “but also a lot of collaboration to unfold what we needed to do.”

The task of combining two sizable university functions under one awning might seem daunting, but Mix was sure she was capable of the challenge. She was raised to be a strong individual and attributes her success to her upbringing.  “I didn’t have limits placed on me by my parents. They ‘let go of me’ when I went to college as a first-generation student. I am the only daughter out of five children, and they didn’t hold me back, even though it would have been natural to do so.” Her mom passed away about four years ago, but Mix still feels her support. “I am always reflecting on how she’s shaped me and my work in general.” Mix has a supportive husband who also has encouraged her to grow and pursue her career with new opportunities. Mix commented that “throughout my career, where I really thrive is where I can build something new.”

Mix has a couple of bookend stories about thriving and building. When she was a freshman at UD, she was part of the team that laid the groundwork for The Blend, now the oldest student-run enterprise on campus. Under the guidance of soon-to-retire Associate Provost Deb Bickford, Mix and a freshman classmate put together a planned concept business and the rest is history. Fast forward to the present, and Mix is “enjoying the opportunity within Strategic Enrollment Management to think about shaping the organizational culture.” She and Associate Vice President for Strategic Enrollment Management and Dean of Admission Donnell Wiggins have developed an organization review process, with a fresh approach so that it is not something that “everyone dreads.” Instead, their vision is to create rich conversations and staff development through a “personal impact process.” They’ve drawn on the Marianist belief that each person brings a unique set of gifts and talents, and in Strategic Enrollment Management, “we want them to contribute as deeply as they can.” Mix believes this more closely resembles coaching, and says, “It really paves the way for people to learn, and grow, and ultimately align with our division’s strategic priorities.”

Sometimes, change in and of itself is good, but Mix realizes there can be ancillary benefits derived from new ways of doing things, as with Flyer Student Services. “What I see from where we are now is that we have an opportunity to demonstrate, ‘Hey, this is a really good model.’ Now, as we work with other offices, we can ask, ‘what ways might we be positioned to help meet some other service needs across the University?’ ”

Looking forward, Mix believes that every individual should seek out opportunities for improvement to positively impact the world around us. “When you look back in history, humans are constantly moving forward. We have had all kinds of terrible things thrown at us, and somehow we move through those and become new and different and better.” She has the same hope for the University. “I keep coming back to my belief that God put me here, at this moment in time, with this specific group of people to steward UD into the future. UD is an institution that has shaped my life so deeply, and the lives of thousands of people. I am going to do whatever is in front of me with faith and in partnership with the collective energy of the people around me.”