Former student honors the professor who mentored her after tragedy

Jessica Bennett contributed to this story.

Gwen (Parrill) Hatchette, who graduated with her master’s in human development and family studies in 1994, will never forget the mentorship and guidance she received during her time at Colorado State University. After a personal tragedy in her life, she was encouraged to finish her degree by Department of Human Development and Family Studies Professor David MacPhee. Hatchette has now decided to honor her mentor with a $50,000 gift to endow the MacPhee Forum on Issues in Prevention Science.

Gwen Hatchette with Lisa Youngblade, Mark Goldrich and David MacPhee

From left, Lise Youngblade, dean, Gwen Hatchette, Mark Goldrich, and David MacPhee.

Passion for prevention science

MacPhee, now a professor emeritus, spent his 30-year career in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies acting in multiple service roles, including directing the department’s doctoral program, serving as assistant department head, chairing the Tenure and Promotion Committee for more than a decade, and conducting his own rigorous research in prevention science.

MacPhee’s passion was in developing and evaluating programs that support children and families, and he has been a strong proponent of the department’s investment in prevention science – which is the work that leads to preventing problems before they occur and building strength and resilience in individuals, families, and communities.

In celebration of his retirement in 2016 and his wonderful career, the MacPhee Forum on Issues in Prevention Science was launched with gifts from department faculty, colleagues, and friends of MacPhee as a retirement gift to him. The purpose of the lecture series is to bring national and international experts in the area of prevention science to the CSU campus to support and grow the expertise in the department. The fund wasn’t endowed, however, until Hatchette’s gift.

“I’d like to thank Gwen for supporting the MacPhee speaker series,” MacPhee said. “The department culture and graduate students are much better off for the intellectual vigor that the speaker series brings to the department and wider University, and with Gwen’s gift of the endowment, it will continue to have an impact long into the future.”

Resilience in adversity

Along the way, MacPhee mentored well over 10,000 undergraduates and dozens of graduate students. Hatchette was one of these students, and she is grateful to MacPhee for his persistence and encouragement in supporting her in the writing of her thesis.

Following Hatchette’s completion of her graduate courses on campus, she, her husband, and their 5-year-old son, Josh, departed for Gunnison, where she had a position at Western Colorado University. On that drive, her husband was tragically killed in a car accident. After a year in Gunnison, Hatchette returned to Fort Collins, reestablished her career as an elementary school teacher in the PSD schools, and lectured on her experiences of grief for Human Development and Family Studies students.

“I felt like the whole department was holding me when my husband died,” said Hatchette. “Wow, just the support of everyone was incredible.”

During those years, Hatchette, now a single mom, struggled to complete her thesis. She believes that if it weren’t for MacPhee’s encouragement, she never would have finished it. Eight years after she left CSU, Hatchette credits MacPhee for going above and beyond to mentor her in finishing the project.

“David showed up one summer and helped me finish my thesis,” she said. “He would come to my house, and for weeks, we would meet to get it done and defended. I finished with just 24 hours before the deadline for completion to earn my degree.”

Mark Goldrich, Gwen Hatchette and David MacPhee

From left, Mark Goldrich, Gwen Hatchette, and David MacPhee at a signing ceremony celebrating Hatchette’s gift. 

20 years in education

Hatchette spent 20 years in elementary education and helped open Olander Elementary in Fort Collins. After retiring, she was fortunate to pursue her dream of becoming a full-time studio artist. Her art pieces can be found at the Broadmoor Hotel and various medical facilities along the Front Range, and she has donated art to numerous local charities and hosted many gatherings to raise funds for nonprofits.

Along the way she married Charlie Hatchette, who passed away from ALS in 2015. Gwen, who with Charlie has been a longtime supporter of the arts in Fort Collins, funded the Hatchette Creativity Scholarship in the CSU College of Liberal Arts in memory of Charlie.

Resilience has extra meaning for Hatchette’s current partner, Mark Goldrich, who lost his wife, Prue Kaley, to Alzheimer’s disease. Hatchette and Goldrich share their appreciation for human development and family studies, which was Kaley’s degree program as well.

Hatchette hopes her gift to endow the speaker series will continue to honor MacPhee’s passion for sharing knowledge with individuals, families and communities. She is grateful for MacPhee’s influence and the support of HDFS during her time at CSU and afterwards. She is particularly moved to know that the speaker series will focus on “resilience,” a meaningful concept that has defined her life.

“Social support is one of the fundamental foundations of resilience,” said MacPhee. “And Gwen is living proof of that.”

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies is part of CSU’s College of Health and Human Sciences.