Carla J. Stoffle

Areas of Achievement: 
Higher Education
Library Science

Honored By

Honored by: Wilkening, Laurel L.
Date submitted: October 24, 2006
Gift: General Gift

Carla Joy Stoffle is a lifelong innovator and the first female Dean of Libraries at the University of Arizona. Born Carla Joy Hayden in June, 1943 in Pueblo, Colorado, she was surrounded by mentors. Her greatest influences were her mother and her grandmother, 'Both of whom were very, very strong women' and who shaped her ideas of womanhood in her youth, she remembered. Her grandmother grew up on a farm in Kansas, was married at 15, had five children and worked as a practical nurse. Her mother worked for over 30 years as a psychiatric technician at the Colorado State Hospital. Another inspirational figure in her life was Carla's sixth grade teacher, Miss Kimberly. Stoffle fondly remembers that 'she made me feel more confident by giving me leadership roles.' These roles later shaped her belief in herself. Stoffle also recalls a counselor at Centennial High, Miss Schultz, who was 'very supportive and pushed me hard to go to college.'

While she was working toward her degree in history at Pueblo Junior College she met her future husband Richard Stoffle who was studying anthropology. They were married June 12, 1964, while they were both undergraduates. Together they transferred to the University of Colorado, working through their respective degrees. She recalls her time working in a small grocery story with people who were beyond the age of retirement by remembering, 'They all looked after me and were very nice to me.'

In 1965 the couple graduated from college and joined the Peace Corps. They went to Barbados where Carla began teaching Barbadian History, English History and typing. Because she is a sports enthusiast, when she learned that the children read during the physical education period instead of exercising, she began teaching P.E. and also initiated a track and field program after school. She enlisted help from everyone; she had the maintenance man build equipment like the high jump, while she and the kids dug the pit for the long jump. Because of Stoffle's initiative, one of her track and field students, Lorna Forde, went on to set a World Record running for Barbados.

She also used her organizational skills to build a school library. Stoffle negotiated a room from the Head Mistress and wood for shelves from the hardware store. Stoffle's sister's sorority sent her the books, and the Peace Corps organization gave her a Dewey decimal system book to organize the library. Due to Stoffle's resourcefulness, her students were able to have a library. In fact, the library experience inspired one of Carla's student's, Annette Smith, to become a librarian; Annett went on to serve as Head of the National Library in Barbados.

When the Stoffle and her husband returned to the United States, they went to the University of Kentucky. Carla saw a job ad for an internship in library science and rather than be a secretary, decided to apply. Stoffle stated 'The power of libraries in people's lives really hit home in my Peace Corps experienceÌÐ' (Weaver-Meyers). She obtained an internship in Library Science working with government documents at the University of Kentucky. After obtaining her Master degree in Library Science, she became the head of the Government Documents department at Eastern Kentucky University.

Stoffle moved to the University of Wisconsin, Parkside in 1972 where she started as an Instruction librarian and was promoted to many positions before finally becoming the Assistant Chancellor. Stoffle admits there were times when she had to stand firm in order to get pay raises equal to her male colleagues and that at times she felt isolated since she worked with so few women. She highlights the changes that were occurring in libraries and notes that in 1976 she 'was probably one of the first librarians in the country to be in charge of both the library and the computing center.' At University of Wisconsin, Parkside she became the Dean of Students as well. In 1986 she was offered a position as Deputy Director of Libraries at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she worked until the Stoffle had the opportunity to come to the University of Arizona.

In 1991 Stoffle became the first female Dean of Libraries and the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona. At the UA she organized a team-based management system to solve budget problems and modernize the library. She was also committed to creating a diverse staff. She is proud that the UA is 'more diverse than other ARL [Association of Research Libraries] libraries' (Weaver-Meyers). Stoffle is also responsible for the addition of many electronic materials in the library.

Beyond her professional life Stoffle emphasizes that her family is very important to her. She reflects that in their 44 years she and her husband have worked at the same institution for most of their marriage. They have always supported each other and have both taken on family responsibilities. When her children were young, she took the time to support her kids in their various sporting events and brought her daughter with her to American Library Association (ALA) conferences. Her son, who holds a PhD in Anthropology, has three children. Her daughter also has three children and is at the University of Arizona working on her PhD in Family Studies. Carla also enjoys time for her personal interests: reading mysteries, putting the annual jigsaw puzzle together, watching college sports and of course learning.

Stoffle reflects that as in her childhood, she has had great mentors throughout her adulthood and professional career. She is still in contact with many of the people who have inspired her as well as the groups that she worked with in the past. She particularly appreciates her mentor Allen Guskin, the Chancellor at Wisconsin, who made Stoffle his assistant. She notes that he 'identified me as a learner and doer,' and explained that as a senior administrator, 'You don't have to know what everybody does, you just have to know how to ask the right questions.'

The library community has recognized Stoffle's leadership, vision and commitment to diversity through numerous distinctions including the Equality Award (2003) and Elizabeth Futas Catalyst for Change Award (2002), both conferred by the American Library Association, and the Arizona Librarian of the Year award (2000) from the Arizona Library Association. She has continued to advance the library system at the UA, upholding her philosophy that \"It is imperative that students have access to read and learn about themselves and others.\"