Leading Women at Champlain: Elizabeth Durick

Leading Women, a new exhibition celebrating the achievements of seven women who played essential roles in the development and administration of Champlain College, will open in Miller Information Commons on Monday, March 7, 2016 in conjunction with the Women’s Empowerment Initiative. During their lifetimes, the seven women were all leaders, each in their own way, as faculty, staff, and Trustees.

Among those featured will be Elizabeth McLaughlin Durick (1904-1994), a professor, administrator, and Trustee:

Elizabeth Durick by Horace Eldred, 1970

   Elizabeth Durick by Horace Eldred, 1970. Champlain College Archives, Series 10, Box 9, Folder 13

Elizabeth Durick grew up in the Bronx, New York, and attended the College of Mount St. Vincent and Fordham University. She settled in the Burlington area with her husband Jerimiah Durick, a professor at St. Michael’s College, in 1939. In 1957, when her four children were older, Elizabeth Durick embarked on a thirty-seven-year career at Champlain College, starting work as an adjunct professor. Her dedication to her work and to the College only grew stronger after the untimely deaths of her husband and one of her sons in the early 1960s. Over the years, she taught English, psychology, mathematics and human relations—students joked that they were “majoring in Mrs. Durick”—and  served as director of placement, guidance counselor, director of public relations, assistant vice president, corporate secretary and Trustee.

While at Champlain, Durick received many accolades. Students dedicated their yearbooks to her in 1961 and 1973. Six years later, she received the Distinguished Citizen Award, and the Durick Room was dedicated on campus in her honor as a community social space. The College again paid homage to her contributions in 1984, when Durick Hall was named in her honor, and 1996, when the Elizabeth A. Durick Staff Service Award was established.

During her lifetime, Elizabeth Durick also found time for numerous community service activities. She served on the City of Burlington’s Zoning Board, the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, and the Vermont Children’s Aid Society’s Board of Trustees. She was also a member of the Vermont Poetry Society and Burlington’s Athena Club. St. Michael’s College awarded her an honorary doctorate in 1980.

As former Champlain College President Robert Skiff noted in 1979, Elizabeth Durick was indeed “the conscience and the heart of the College.” She died in 1994.