On January 15, 2014, Dr. Martha Shalitta passed away at the age of 90. Affectionately called “Martie,” or “Doc,” by her students, Shalitta was an undergraduate professor of psychology at Eastern University. Before arriving to Eastern, Dr. Shalitta had a distinguished educational career, having been an assistant principal at Garnet Valley High School. Dr. Shalitta began her work at Eastern University in 1970, where she helped develop the basis for the Psychology Department, chairing the department for a number of years. While at Eastern, Dr. Shalitta had been Professor of the Year, an advisor for the Black Student League and Psi Chi, and the Dean of Arts and Sciences for three years.
Numerous awards had been bestowed upon Dr. Shalitta during her time with Eastern, including the Lindback Award for Distinguished Teaching and becoming a Danforth Fellow. She would stay with Eastern University up until the mid-1990s.
Dr. Shalitta leaves behind an impressive resume, but what people remember are her charming personality and love for teaching. Dr. Fred Boehlke, Professor Emeritus of History at Eastern University, states, “…During the three years of her college deanship, we had a visitation for accreditation from Middle States Association, so she was dean at an important period, even though she did not serve long. My impression is that she resigned as dean because her real love was classroom teaching.”
An article in the spring issue of SPIRIT magazine in 2000 agrees, “But through all the task and honors, her heart has always been first and foremost in the classroom. Knowledge is not simply facts for Doc Shalitta; it is a way to help people better understand their lives and the world they inhabit.”
Mary Gardner, class of 1983, and Director of Alumni and Parent Relations, reflects, “Doc was by far my favorite professor. She will be remembered as the professor that taught us to embrace our uniqueness and accept ourselves as special creatures created by the God Almighty…Howard Stevenson, from the class of 1981, recently said that if it wasn’t for Doc, he doesn’t believe he would’ve gone on to graduate school. Her spunky personality and ability to laugh at herself and life, kept her class captivated and engaged. All the teaching aside, her children were her students. She loved her students and they certainly loved her!”