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Major General Susan L. Pamerleau, USAF (Ret.), Distinguished UW Alumna

slp_portrait_2014.6.1.jpgComing to the University of Wyoming changed the course of Major General (ret.) Susan L. Pamerleau’s life (BA sociology ’68).

Pamerleau served for 32 years in the U.S. Air Force and earned promotion to Major General. She served as the first woman to command the Air Force Personnel Center, Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel for the U.S. Air Force. She was the first woman appointed to command the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. She served as an executive officer on the International Military Staff at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. She served as sheriff of Bexar County, Texas, one of the most populous counties in the United States, commanding an organization of almost 2,000 personnel with a budget of over $200 million and capital projects exceeding $85 million. And she is the U.S. Marshall for the Western District of Texas that encompasses San Antonio, El Paso, and Austin.

Before all that, Pamerleau was a junior at the now-defunct Philips University in Oklahoma. She was the yearbook editor, a student senator, an officer in her sorority, and a promising student. But then her parents moved to Casper and her brother transferred to the University of Wyoming, and so she decided to make the move too.

This move altered the course of her life. She graduated from UW a year early with her bachelor’s in sociology, but more importantly she decided to join the U.S. Air Force.

“I don’t think I would’ve ever gone into the Air Force had I not been at the University of Wyoming,” says Pamerleau. “My life would’ve taken a very different direction had I not come here.”

In 1967, Public Law 90-130 changed the nature of the armed forces by allowing more women to join. Prior to that, U.S. law had limited the number of women in the military to two percent and the highest rank for a woman to that of lieutenant colonel. And so the military began actively recruiting women, including in a UW lunch sorority dining room in November of 1967.

Throughout her long and distinguished service to those things she loves, Pamerleau has earned many awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal and the Defense Superior Service Medal, the UW College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Alumni Award, and the Bexar County Pioneer Award for being the first woman elected sheriff, among others. Now she’s a University of Wyoming Distinguished Alumna.

These awards are so well deserved. Pamerleau unstintingly supports the University of Wyoming with her time and resources. In 2005, she created a two scholarships for UW AFROTC students for Leadership and Academic Excellence. Two years later, she established a bequest that will support scholarships for all UW AFROTC students in good standing, the Major General Susan L. Pamerleau Award. That’s 50-100 students per year. In 2016, she created a scholarship for sociology students, the Major General Susan L. Pamerleau Sociology Scholarship. She has also supported other programs on campus, and she has served on the UW Foundation Board of Directors.

“I haven’t planned any of this,” says Pamerleau. “It’s been about what opportunities presented themselves—you know that it’s the right thing to do. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to continue serving in a meaningful way.”

 

 

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