In Memoriam: Asuncion Miteria Austria, PhD

December 18, 2020

Asuncion (Siony) Miteria Austria, PhD — Professor of Psychology, Department Chair, Director of Clinical Training, practicing Clinical Psychologist, beloved Wife, loving Mother, and adoring Lola — passed away peacefully at her home on Friday, 18 December, 2020 in the loving company of her husband and children.

She is survived by her husband of over fifty years, R.M. Austria (Roger), son Albert, daughter Marie (Michael), two grandsons, and numerous nieces and nephews in the United States and the Philippines.

Dr. Austria was born in Manila, Philippines to Maria Concepcion and Alberto Miteria. She had five siblings who all preceded her in death.

Dr. Austria was a lifelong scholar. She graduated as valedictorian from one of the largest public high schools in Manila, and graduated magna cum laude from the University of the Philippines (UP) with a BA in Psychology. It was at UP where she met her future husband. She first came to the U.S. as an international scholar in the Master’s program in Psychology at Columbia University in New York, the youngest scholar in her group. After receiving her degree, she returned to UP to teach psychology courses. Dr. Austria was subsequently granted a Rockefeller Foundation Scholarship to study at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois in the Doctoral program in Clinical Psychology. She completed this rigorous program while parenting two young children. After receiving her PhD, Dr. Austria completed her postdoctoral residency at the Neuropsychiatric Institute, University of Illinois at the Medical Center in Chicago. She then started her career as a psychologist in community mental health in Chicago.

Dr. Austria began her 38 year career at Cardinal Stritch University (CSU) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as a Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology. She later founded the Graduate Program in Clinical Psychology at CSU, a Master’s degree program, and served as its Chair, Director of Clinical Training, and Professor for ten years until her retirement when she was conferred Professor Emerita of Psychology. She had a tremendous impact on the lives of countless students whom she taught and mentored. She also was a licensed clinical psychologist who worked both in hospital settings and in private practice.

Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), she served as president for two Sections of the Society of Clinical Psychology: the Clinical Psychology of Women and the Clinical Psychology of Ethnic Minorities. She was the first elected member-at-large and first Chair of the Committee on Diversity in the Society of Clinical Psychology. She served in leadership roles on numerous governance boards, executive committees, and task forces within APA. She was also elected Fellow of the Wisconsin Psychological Association.

She was the recipient of many awards for mentoring, leadership, teaching, training, and outstanding contributions to the clinical psychology of ethnic minorities and women: the APA Committee on Women in Psychology’s Distinguished Leadership for Women in Psychology Award, the Society for the Psychology of Women’s Award for Distinguished Service, APA’s Community Leadership Award, Cardinal Stritch University’s Distinguished Scholar Award, and the Teaching Excellence and Campus Leadership Award.  In 2012, the APA’s Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity, and Race created the Asuncion Miteria Austria and John Robinson Distinguished Mentoring Award in honor of their distinguished contributions to  the governance of the APA and their outstanding mentoring of ethnic minority psychologists into governance roles.

Dr. Austria contributed book chapters and served as editor on numerous publications, primarily on the topics of diversity and multicultural issues, women and feminism, Asian Americans, ethnicity and race, and equality and social justice.

After her retirement, Dr. Austria continued to be an active member of APA, and continued to serve in various leadership positions and participated on symposia at its annual conventions. She was also able to put more of her energy into the University of the Philippines Alumni Association of Wisconsin, an organization founded by her husband Roger, and in which she was a founding member in 1974. She established the Value our Heritage Committee in 1974 and led it for 45 years. The Committee’s mission was to educate, maintain, and propagate Filipino cultural values, traditions, and history to the families and children of the Filipino community, as well as to the greater Wisconsin community. In retirement, she also enjoyed traveling, attending cultural events, and spending time with her family and many friends.

Above all else, Siony was dedicated to her family. Her family came first and always, and everything that she did was motivated by the well-being and happiness of her family.

Our beloved Siony was brilliant and wise, loving and devoted, hardworking and dedicated, charming and friendly, hilarious and quick witted, inspirational and intentional, silly and playful, strong and brave. She was a force. And she was our shining star.

She will be dearly missed by her family, friends, and professional colleagues. May her soul rest in peace.