Valuing Diversity and Good Health
At this midpoint of 2020, in a Leap Year that so far has unleashed the fury of COVID-19, the raw underbelly of historic racial injustice, and tectonic upheaval of our social and economic fabric, I write you with wishes of well-rounded good health. These are challenging times!
The months of June and July are particularly important to all of us, as we find summertime opportunities to celebrate with family and friends a variety of events, from Father’s Day, Juneteenth and Pride Month to U.S. Independence Day and Disability Independence Day. They are also months that encourage broadened awareness of a variety of health issues, including autism. Against this backdrop, I share a number of stories from Texas Woman’s that I hope you will find of interest.
TWU committee plans tribute to Quakertown
A man and two children stand on the porch of a business in Quakertown in Denton, TX
As our country continues to grapple vigorously with a series of racially unjust incidents, Texas Woman’s University continues work on a project that will confront our past for the role the institution had in a racial injustice that occurred nearly 100 years ago in Denton.
In 1922, civic, business and municipal leaders pushed for a referendum that forced nearly 60 Black families from an area just south of our main campus known as Quaker. Among those who vocally supported this relocation was F.M. Bralley, then-president of what is now TWU. In a public address, he stated that the Black people in the community posed a threat to the all-white woman’s college.
Today, Texas Woman’s is proud to be one of the most diverse institutions in America, with people of color accounting for the majority of our student body. And as painful as that chapter in our history is, it is important that we confront it.
In 2017 we assembled a committee made up of community members, students, and university employees to devise a plan in which the university could acknowledge its role in that injustice and create an avenue for reflection and healing.
The committee’s vision is to create an amphitheater and memorial walking path that offer members of the community, students, faculty and staff an opportunity to remember the displaced citizens of what we now call Quakertown, reflect on concepts of equity and justice, and illuminate TWU’s commitment to principles of diversity and inclusion.
We have retained the services of HKS, the architectural firm that created TWU’s master campus plan, to finalize a plan to realize that vision and design the site for this project by February 2021, with implementation completed in 2022.
Five alumni launch 'BWISE' to advance women of color in college
From left, Kyanna Silas (’14 MSN, ’19 DNP), LeSteshia Ekeocha (’14 MSN, ’19 DNP), Whitney Kirkpatrick Valentine (’19 DNP), Dennia Thompson (’15 MSN, ’19 DNP) and Leticia Cole (’09 BSN, ’13 MSN, ’19 DNP)
I’d like to give a special “high five” to our 2019 Dallas campus doctoral nursing graduates who—in addition to holding important healthcare roles as well as being moms, wives and/or caregivers for older parents—already have created a nonprofit to mentor North Texas students, Black Women Instilling Scholarly Excellence (BWISE).
Their nonprofit, which has grown to about 20 members so far, will select its first scholarship essay contest winner this year from among African American female high school seniors in Dallas, Denton and Tarrant Counties starting college this fall.
The story of our five alumni who founded BWISE also recently caught the attention of D Magazine and Dallas Innovates’ Forces for Good section. We are so proud of their leadership—not just for creating BWISE, but also for their work at Parkland Hospital, the State of Texas, a Waxahachie pediatric primary clinic and for the dynamic duo (Drs. Valentine and Thompson) who today serve as TWU nursing adjunct faculty in Dallas!
Faculty earn media attention for research
Drs. Brigitte Vittrup, left, and Danielle Phillips-Cunningham
Many of our faculty have expertise in a number of key topical subjects under discussion these days—and two of them stood out in recent weeks:
Brigitte Vittrup, PhD, professor and interim chair in Human Development, Family Studies and Counseling, was featured in a 21-minute interview on New York Public Radio’s “The Takeaway,” following on the heels of another interview on a major broadcast outlet, WGN-TV Chicago. In these interviews, and in others with the Washington Post, D Magazine, and Your Teen Magazine, she offered parents ways to speak on the topic of race with their children.
In addition, Associate Professor of Multicultural Women’s and Gender Studies Danielle Phillips-Cunningham, PhD, was recently awarded a Franklin Research Grant that will support her ongoing Library of Congress research into the previously unexamined life of Nannie Helen Burroughs, a philosopher, educator, religious leader and civil rights activist.
Phillips-Cunningham aims to produce the first book documenting Burroughs’ historic efforts to address the education and labor concerns of African American domestic workers during the early 20th century. In 1909, Burroughs founded the National Training School for Women and Girls in Washington, D.C., to provide occupational training for southern Black migrant women. To overcome segregation in the labor movement, she also co-founded the National Association of Wage Earners in 1920, the first national labor organization for African American domestic workers.
TWU hosts STEM-based 'Eureka!' Camp
Girls Inc. camp participants learned about STEM career opportunities at a camp sponsored by TWU
When COVID-19 made in-person summer camps difficult, TWU’s IT team quickly shifted plans to host a summer camp online for participants in the Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas Eureka! STEM program.
In June, more than 30 girls attended the four-day virtual summer camp focused on stimulating their interest in science, technology, engineering and math career fields.
We were pleased to be able to host this camp for the second year, this time via a series of interactive Zoom sessions that covered topics such as women in leadership, values and goals, nursing and STEM majors and careers. We look forward to hosting it next year—hopefully on our beautiful Dallas and Denton campuses!
TWU launches first master's biotechnology program in North Texas
From left, Drs. Juliet Spencer, Nathaniel Mills, Michael Bergel, Catalina Pislariu and Stephanie Pierce. Not pictured, Drs. Heather Conrad-Webb and Chris Brower
We are putting the finishing touches on a new Scientific Research Commons, above, that will open this fall and become home to North Texas’ first biotech master’s program (and one of only two in Texas).
This professional science master’s degree in biotechnology is also one of only 39 in the U.S. Our program seeks to prepare more women, as well as our highly diverse students, to successfully pursue this lucrative biotechnology career path at a time when we’re all under the grip of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The program is led by a core team of internationally renowned faculty members from prestigious institutions including Baylor University, Vanderbilt, the University of Virginia, Ohio State University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The program also has an advisory board of successful Texas biotech leaders who will share market perspectives and expertise with faculty and students.
More than 5,000 life science and research firms call Texas home, and with $5.3 billion in research and development expenditures and more than 24,000 clinical trials underway, Texas is driving innovation in healthcare research.
Historic gift to TWU nearly triples in value
Dr. Richard Woodcock is a globally renowned psychologist and psychometrician
The initial $8.7 million gift rose to more than $16 million last year, thanks to yearly donations, royalties on Woodcock’s widely used assessment tests and interest earned on the endowments. And now that amount is set to grow another $5.6 million over the next three years with the announcement that Riverside Insights, the publisher of Dr. Woodcock’s assessment tests, has purchased the future royalties for revised editions of his tests.
We are so proud to have been chosen by him to carry on the legacy of his groundbreaking psychological assessment work with faculty and researchers around the world through our Woodcock Institute for the Advancement of Neurocognitive Research and Applied Practice.
Since its creation five years ago, TWU’s Woodcock Institute for the Advancement of Neurocognitive Research and Applied Practice has expanded important national interdisciplinary research and psychological assessments by awarding more than $600,000 in faculty research and doctoral student dissertation grants, hosting two biennial solutions-oriented national conferences, and creating a North Texas multidisciplinary assessment clinic that has worked with dozens of families.
The Institute’s work has encompassed a number of long-standing national challenges, all of which relate to its mission, including: advancing occupational therapy research and practice to address adult cognition and dementia; developing a national standard for assessing children and adults who are deaf or hard of hearing; predicting academic deficits in children; studying the impact of maltreatment-related childhood experiences; assessing reading fluency in young adults with mild traumatic brain injury; identifying cognitive factors influencing attention deficit disorders in children; exploring strategic memory and advanced reasoning training in stroke survivors; researching social interactions in individuals with traumatic brain injury; and looking at the association between motor skills and elementary literacy development in children with autism spectrum disorders.
Woodcock clinic helps dozens of families
Dan Miller, PhD, executive director of the Woodcock Institute, and Wendi Leigh Bauman Johnson, PhD, interim director of the Woodcock Interdisciplinary Assessment Clinic.
I’m pleased to report that our Woodcock Institute and Department of Psychology and Philosophy will partner with the University of North Texas Kristin Farmer Autism Center to expand access to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) assessment services across the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
According to Wendi Johnson ('08 PhD), associate professor of school psychology, there’s a need for more autism assessments in the community because private practice psychologists often have a waiting list of at least six months.
Our Woodcock assessment clinic has served around five dozen families since it was founded.
The collaboration, which is slated to begin this fall, will provide TWU school psychology, speech, hearing and occupational therapy doctoral students with practical training and hands-on experience serving families of children and adolescents with autism.
As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on...female entrepreneurs persist!
We continue to hear from grateful women business owners who are sending us their stories about the critical support they received through AssistHer $10,000 grants from TWU’s Center for Women Entrepreneurs at the Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership.
One recent awardee is Colette Shrader, above, owner of the San Antonio-based company, Personalized Prosthetics. Her company crafts prosthesis for people missing eyes, ears, noses and other small body parts due to trauma, illness or congenital condition – and it is the only entity that offers this small-scale service in the San Antonio area.
It takes an extraordinary amount of meticulous sculpting to get the right fit for each prosthetic and to help make the lives of her patients better. And Shrader derives a great deal of reward in helping people regain that confidence. It is heartening to know so many of these grants were awarded to businesses aimed at helping other people, especially considering the times we are in.
Our congratulations to TWU alumna Patsy Sosa-Sanchez, PhD (’04 BS, ’06 MEd, ’15 PhD), left, who has been elected to the Denton ISD school board. She taught many years at TWU and today holds a tenure-track position at UNT-Dallas.
Cynthia Nevels (’96 BA), Soulgood’s founder and head chef, continues to work with restaurants like Pecan Lodge to feed first responders covering long hours. Through Soulgood’s latest partnership with Feed the Front Line, parents who may have lost their jobs or were furloughed are getting hot meals from Nevels’ popular food truck.
Museum broadcasts TWU documentary
Above, items from the Woman’s Collection at TWU’s Blagg-Huey Library
Mack Minded: Humanly Possible, our short documentary about the bone density research performed at TWU by Pauline Beery Mack, has been featured by The Cranbrook Institute of Science in Michigan. The film won third place at the NASA CineSpace Film Festival last fall.
As part of this festival, NASA’s Johnson Space Center promotes the film finalists through partnerships with science museums and NASA visitors centers across the nation.
According to the Cranbook Institute’s Facebook post, "In celebration of 20 years of continuous human presence onboard the International Space Station, we want to share this video with you about the woman behind the science, technology, and statistical research on bone density that makes human space travel possible."
We are military friendly!
In the spirit of America’s Fourth of July, my colleagues and I celebrated those who serve and the many veterans who are TWU graduates, as well as those whom we are currently preparing to serve our country. We are a designated "Military Friendly" university, and I recently received this photo of Elyse K. Mims (’17 BS), left, who today serves the U.S. Army as a Specialist in the 1st Armored Division “Old Ironsides” as a driver of the Bradley armored vehicle series among the American infantry fighting vehicles.
Elyse earned her bachelor’s in kinesiology with honors, gaining her a placement on both the Chancellor’s and Dean’s lists. She minored in Early Childhood through 12th-grade education so she could take her physical training skills to help today’s youth. After graduation, she was hired by the Utah Military Academy, where she led the first female wrestling team and became the first female head track coach for both women and men’s teams.
She also was the first female to serve in assistant coaching roles for male sports. She plans to obtain her master’s in exercise science while serving in the military. SPC Mims is presently stationed at Ft. Bliss near El Paso.
Scholarship established in memory of Vice President Emeritus for Student Life
We are excited to announce the creation of the Dr. Richard Nicholas Memorial Scholarship Endowment. This endowment was funded through a generous lead gift by TWU alumna Amber Garrison Duncan (’98 BS) and her husband, John. It was augmented with other donations made by family and friends of Dr. Nicholas. The endowment will award a scholarship each year to a qualified TWU junior or senior who demonstrates financial need and has exhibited campus leadership qualities while at TWU or a previous institution. The scholarship honors the legacy of Dr. Nicholas, who devoted his career to students’ well-being and his passion for increasing student retention and degree-completion rates.
Dr. Nicholas served as TWU’s vice president for Student Life for 18 years and was considered a leader in student affairs. He mentored many students, who are now alumni working in student affairs. Dr. Nicholas often said his most treasured moments at TWU included his time spent serving students. Under his watch, the university added the Fitness and Recreation Center and Lowry Woods, and launched the Terry Scholars program. Dr. Nicholas is remembered fondly by his higher education colleagues and this endowment ensures he will have a lasting legacy at TWU.
Thanks for your interest in Texas Woman’s. As always, email me with your comments or questions. I am delighted that you have spent a few minutes with me today.
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Page last updated 3:41 PM, April 14, 2023