Paying it forward...
The month of May is particularly meaningful to those of us in higher education, when beaming students cross the stage to earn their diplomas and begin lives that will make our state, and our world, a better place. At Texas Woman’s, this is also a time when we recognize faculty and alumni who transform the lives of students and others around them. I dedicate this month’s newsletter to highlighting just a few of those committed to paying it forward.
Federal judge, alumna lauds TWU professor for guiding her career
Speaking at Commencement, our alumna (BBA ’83), the Honorable Alia Moses, told graduates she never expected to be one of the nation’s 673 U.S. district judges. As she was preparing to graduate, she said, “There was one professor who is still guiding students here on this campus, who must have seen or sensed that which I could not.” She lauded Professor Jim Alexander for his help in pursuing a law school education—adding, “it is now my mission to reach around and help the next generation to realize their goals and succeed.”
She already has mentored nearly 30 law clerks in her current position, evaluating up to 800 applications annually from attorneys across the country. She was the first woman appointed to a federal bench in the sprawling Western District of Texas in 2002, and has presided over some 15,000 criminal and 2,000 civil cases. The district stretches from Waco to Del Rio, and includes a swath of South Texas, San Antonio, Austin and Midland.
Retired professor’s brainchild addresses shortage of speech-language pathologist
As I looked out over the sea of graduates this month, I saw a group of them wearing mortar boards adorned with feathers. That was our students’ salute to retired TWU Associate Professor Allan Bird, who two decades ago received a Texas Education Agency grant for the unique program he created: a two-year distance-learning master’s degree aimed at solving the state’s shortage of school-based speech-language pathologists. Our alumna Karyn Kilroy (MS '95) served as the statewide coordinator for this program for almost 11 years until her retirement in 2018.
Hundreds of school districts across the state — and thousands across the nation — struggle to hire enough speech therapists to meet federal law standards. In Texas alone, there’s an annual need for speech therapists to assess and treat more than 200,000 public school students.
This month we graduated the 1,000th student in that program, which has helped significantly fill that void.
Nearly 30 of the 117 graduates in this distance program also are the first to graduate with a new TWU post-baccalaureate certificate in bilingual speech-language pathology, helping to address the state’s shortage of bilingual speech pathologists.
TWU business students work with Parkland Hospital to boost bottom line
I was pleased to learn that some of our business students in Dallas recently earned praise from Parkland Hospital execs for their work on a training manual project designed to help managers become more aware of fiscal matters.
For the past two decades, hundreds of TWU dual business/health systems management students have undertaken at least 400 such capstone projects at 10 DFW-area health organizations—under the mentorship of TWU Professor Pat Driscoll (MSN '72), a nurse, lawyer and former president/CEO of the only independent community-based, not-for-profit home health organization in the Metroplex (Home Health Services of Texas, Inc).
Among the clients for Driscoll and her students: Baylor Scott & White, UT Southwestern, Texas Health Resources and Aetna. One project identified $5.2 million in recoverable losses in a managed care account; another resulted in a savings of more than $200,000 a month for a health provider following a review of a supply chain. Still another identified $460,000 in savings after the team developed an inventory management system for a health service entity.
Students who have participated in the project have graduated with an MBA and a master’s degree in health systems management and gone on to high-profile positions at the Mayo Clinic, Ernst & Young and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Three project alums have served as CEOs at Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville, The Woman’s Hospital of Texas in Houston, and Medical City Lewisville.
TWU, UNT graduate first students from high-demand master’s degree in social work
We’ve all heard about the statewide shortage of mental health care workers, the large aging baby boomer population, and the increased need for social work professionals in such areas as schools, medical and mental health facilities. A couple years ago, TWU partnered with UNT to address this by creating a joint master’s degree in social work that is now the only one of its kind in Texas and one of only four in the nation.
We just graduated our first 25 students in this important new program, which provides students with access to resources and faculty at both universities and our community connections. One of the most highly recognized degrees in health and human services, the new advanced generalist practice master of social work degree emphasizes health care, and child and family services, including child welfare.
Two students selected for outstanding achievement award
I awarded scholarships to two of our graduates this month for their outstanding artistic achievement. The scholarships can be applied toward TWU graduate study. The award, initiated by Brooks Leman of Chicago in 1930 honoring his wife and TWU alumna Pauline Bishop Leman, was given to Hannah Werchan and Curtis Neeld.
Late last year, Hannah won the Kennedy Center competition for emerging young artists with disabilities, and she plans to pursue her MFA degree with us this fall. Hannah’s art captures the challenges she’s faced with Stickler syndrome, a rare congenital disorder that causes chronic pain, hearing loss, cataracts, osteoarthritis, and joint and bone abnormalities. Her winning artwork is being shown as part of a year-long, nationally touring exhibition.
Curtis, who this fall will pursue a doctor of physical therapy degree on our Dallas campus, led the Acolytes of Apollo team last fall that won the Texas Space Grant Consortium’s NASA Design Challenge. He was instrumental in designing a garment containing integrated technology intended to reduce lower back pain in astronauts. Curtis, a U.S. Navy veteran, has a strong desire to serve those around him and his career goals include helping other veterans.
New regents join TWU's board
And I would be remiss if I didn’t recognize the work of the nine members of our Board of Regents, who so generously share their time and expertise with our university. On the heels of Commencement, the Governor-appointed board convened for two days with its four newest members: Carlos Gallardo of Frisco, a talent acquisition management and human resources executive; Robert “Bob” Hyde of Irving, a senior vice president for the Bank of Texas; Stacie McDavid of Fort Worth, CEO of McDavid Companies; and Mary Pincoffs Wilson of Austin, who works with her family’s privately run business and also previously served as a chair of the Board of Regents.
What we heard at Commencement: “The tassel is worth the hassle!”
Roughly 70 soon-to-be-graduates at Texas Woman’s University took part in a special ceremony Saturday to honor their children and other family members for their support during the students’ journey through college.
A semester of hard work and experiential learning recently came to a close for senior undergraduate Nutrition students at Texas Woman’s. Adjunct Professor James Adams guided his Food Product Development class through creating new products from beginning to launch, with creative and delicious results.
Lastly, with Memorial Day approaching, I hope you will take a moment to honor the many people who paid the ultimate sacrifice for this country. Texas Woman’s has long been recognized as a military-friendly university, and we appreciate those who served our country and made our world better.
Thank you for your interest in Texas Woman's. I invite you to email me if you have any comments or questions, and I am delighted that you have spent a few minutes with me today.
P.S. — I'm pleased to report that our alumna Roxanne Vogel has successfully scaled Mt. Everest and is headed home. She achieved her goal of completing the round-trip trek, which included reaching the 29,029-foot summit, in just two weeks. The research she is conducting on this “lightning ascent” is certain to be groundbreaking!
Follow Carine M. Feyten, Ph.D.
Page last updated 2:59 PM, April 12, 2023