Lane Powell (1941-2016)


Lane Powell, instructor, administrator, and champion of family-life education, has died of pancreatic cancer. With her bubbly personality and booming Southern-accented voice, she was an unforgettable figure.

Lane received her Ph.D. in 1984 at Texas Tech, with a dissertation entitled “Evaluation of a church-based sexuality program for adolescents.” This research was published a year later in the journal Family Relations, with committee-chair Steve Jorgensen as co-author  (Powell & Jorgensen, 1985). Lane then followed a sequence that would take her to Birmingham, Alabama, back to Lubbock, and then back to Birmingham.

In 2007, Lane received the Meritorious Service to Families Award from the National Council on Family Relations, the leading professional society in the family-studies discipline. The university’s article on Lane’s award captured much of her career:

Powell was honored for her work as department chair at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., where she developed the Human Development and Family Studies academic program and oversaw the construction of the Children’s Research and Development Center there from 1985-1999. Powell was also cited for her authorship of the first undergraduate textbook in Family Life Education and for her work as a group facilitator couple along with her husband [Bob] in the Association for Couples in Marriage Enrichment for more than 25 years.

Now in her 10th year as a faculty member at Texas Tech, Powell continues to build on her work at Samford University. She has been an advisor to the Texas Tech Council on Family Relations, which has won awards as a student professional affiliate, for seven years and she is also the certification advisor for the Certified Family Life Educator Program and a career advising specialist.

During Lane’s second stint at Texas Tech (approximately 1999-2013), she taught courses in HDFS and served in an administrative role created specially for her by then-Department Chair Dean Busby, namely Assistant Department Chair to work with the HDFS Associate Chair.

As noted above, Lane and her husband Bob were active in marriage-enrichment education. Part of this involved leading workshops for couples. In addition, Lane and Bob were highly sought-after guests in HDFS courses. Dr. Sylvia Niehuis regularly invited Lane and Bob to speak in her course on Partnering: The Development of Intimate Relationships (HDFS 2322). Lane and Bob would discuss their own marriage, as well as offer insights on healthy marriages.

“The students loved them,” said Dr. Niehuis. “They adored them, and so did I.”

If one goes to the website of the local newspaper, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, and types “Lane Powell” (with quotation marks) into the search field, one will find 41 archived articles detailing her extensive educational contributions and community involvement. Lane and Bob were also ardent fans of Lady Raiders basketball.

Ultimately, Lane and Bob moved back to Birmingham in retirement, which included international travel, time spent with their children and grandchildren, and continued attendance by Lane at the annual NCFR conference (most recently in 2015 in Vancouver).

Lane and Bob’s daughter Sharon Powell, a Ph.D. recipient from the University of Minnesota, continues to carry the torch for family education and outreach.

Categories: Faculty, Outreach, Teaching

Film Series and Colloquium Talks (Spring 2016)

A film series now in its third semester and a brand-new program of colloquium speakers highlight this semester’s cultural and research activities for the HDFS department and the larger community.

The Sexism in Cinema series, which “considers how sexism is embedded, endorsed, and/or challenged in the cinema,” features a monthly film screening followed by discussion. Admission is only $3 for each film. The series is sponsored by several TTU programs and among the co-organizers are HDFS faculty members Dr. Elizabeth Sharp and Dr. Dana Weiser. Click here for the Spring 2016 schedule and further details.

The colloquium marks the first time in recent decades (if not, ever) that HDFS has put together a slate of speakers entirely from outside our department. Speakers, with the titles and dates of their talks, are listed in the flyer below. The talks will be held in Human Sciences Room 102 from 3:30-5:00 on the listed dates.

colloq flyer

The colloquium series was organized by a committee consisting of Dr. Sharp, Dr. Jacki Fitzpatrick, and graduate student Miriam Lieway.

Categories: Faculty, Graduate Students, Outreach, Research

Fall 2015 Semester in Review

Another semester is in the books. In addition to doing our usual academic work and holding job searches that we expect to bring two new faculty members to our department by next fall, HDFS graduate students and faculty took time out to help others and to have fun on a bowling night.

According to Dr. Stephanie Shine, HDFS Early Childhood program director, graduate students in the Texas Tech affiliate of the National Council on Family Relations (Tech CFR) “conducted a gift drive in the college for TTU Early Head Start and got beautiful gifts for 66 children.”

Students pictured above wrapping presents include Jennifer Harris, Yang Liu, Andrea Parker, Diane Wittie, and Shu Yuan, along with our office assistant Jennifer Holland. Thanks to Holly Babbitt, our new graduate administrative secretary, for the photos of the wrapping process!

The following photos (posted with parental permission) show children receiving their gifts.


Earlier in the semester, HDFS faculty and grad students hit the lanes at Main Event Entertainment.

bowling ann-mal-rebLeft to right, new chair Dr. Ann Mastergeorge, Dr. Malinda Colwell, and Rebecca Oldham illustrate the stages of roll delivery.

bowling sharp-shupe-kareem-manjuDr. Elizabeth “Strikethrower” Sharp (light-blue sweater) lets one go, whereas Kareem Al-Khalil (upper-right) gets ready to do the same. Also seen in these pictures are Rick Shupe (behind Elizabeth), Manju Chawla, and Stacy Johnson (lane closest to wall).

bowling ann & others

Left to right watching the action are Andrea Parker, Rebecca Oldham, Yang Liu, and Drs. Colwell and Mastergeorge.

bowling conversations

Clockwise from upper-left, Drs. Wonjung Oh and Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo; Yang Liu, Dr. Sharp, and Dr. Dana Weiser;  Dr. Alan Reifman; and Manju and Rebecca, with Shu in the background.

bowling big group photoFinally, left to right, we have Manju, Andrea, Ann, Holly Wright, Shu, Dan Fang, Rebecca, Wonjung, and Stacy.

Categories: Faculty, Graduate Students, Outreach

HDFS and Media

We have three brief items, all within the theme of “HDFS and Media.”

  • One story is about using the tools of child-development research to study media presentations for children. Dr. Malinda Colwell, who is part of a Texas Tech faculty consortium studying the impact of the public broadcasting cartoon show “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” on young children’s “cognitive, emotional, and psychological development,” presented earlier this week at the national PBS conference in Austin, Texas. Dr. Colwell’s former grad student, Kim Corson, Ph.D., who works at the University of Houston’s PBS station, was also on hand. Kim tweeted this photo of her (right) with Malinda.
  • The second story is about having students use media in the college classroom. To help students in her undergraduate Gender Development course prepare for their final exam, Dr. Elizabeth Sharp had small groups of students create short videos that reviewed key concepts within a given course topic. Two YouTube videos, voted as the best by students in the two sections of Gender Development, are available here and here.
  • Finally, another of our Ph.D. alumni, Lehigh University Professor of Practice Sothy Eng, has begun writing a column for the Huffington Post. Sothy writes about historical and contemporary issues in his native country of Cambodia. His author page, with links to his articles, is available here.
Categories: Faculty, Graduate-Degree Alumni, Outreach, Undergraduate Students

Professor and Grad Students Promote Safe, Consensual Sexual Behavior

Dr. Dana Weiser and students in her graduate Human Sexuality course developed materials and staffed a table by the Student Union on Wednesday, April 15, to promote safe and consensual sexual behavior. The event was held in conjunction with the national Faculty Against Rape organization’s Faculty Day of Action.  A detailed report on the activity is available from the Daily Toreador at this link, whereas photos of the event and the materials are available here.

Categories: Faculty, Graduate Students, Outreach

HDFS Faculty and Students Recognized on Multiple Fronts

HDFS faculty and students have been earning recognition on the Texas Tech campus in many areas:

  • Ph.D. student Paulina Velez-Gomez was featured in Texas Tech Today‘s “Student Spotlight” on March 5 (article link). The article discusses Paulina’s plan to return to her home country of Colombia after finishing her degree and use the knowledge gained here at Texas Tech to help communities back home.
  • Another of our Ph.D. students has earned a dissertation fellowship from the TTU Graduate School. Once the Grad School publicly reports the winners (which we expect to happen soon), we will disclose the HDFS student’s name.
  • HDFS undergraduate Gilde Flores was also featured in Texas Tech Today (February 26). While the main article focuses on his musical career outside of school, there is a sidebar column to the right of the article in which he discusses his time in the HDFS program. Flores lists the following people as his favorite instructors: Mitzi Ziegner, Yvonne Caldera, Shera Jackson, Jeffrey Wherry, Ronda Eade, and Alan Korinek.
  • Judy Fischer, whose retirement was covered here, has officially been granted Emeritus Professor status by the TTU Board of Regents.
  • Also as part of the Regents’ agenda, they granted Dr. Michael O’Boyle a Faculty Development Leave for the Fall 2015 semester. During this time, he will “visit the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center (UNMHSC) for one semester, during which time we will analyze a myriad of behavioral and neuroimaging data on the neuroscience of creativity… Also, he will develop future collaborative studies between UNMHSC/MIND Research Network and the Texas Tech Neuroimaging Institute (TTNI).”
Categories: Faculty, Graduate Students, Outreach, Research, Undergraduate Students

TTU HDFS and Family Policy Activities

texas capitolOne area in which the HDFS department has enhanced its teaching and research in recent years is the application of basic research on families and individuals across the life span to the formulation of laws and public policies. We offer a graduate course (which is also open to advanced undergraduates) called Family Law and Public Policy (FLAPP). We also offer an undergraduate course called The Family in the Community. Among others, Drs. Alan Reifman, Jacki Fitzpatrick, and Shera Jackson, and doctoral students Janis Henderson and Brandon Logan, have been involved in these endeavors.

Another element of our family policy work is our involvement with the national Family Impact Seminars network (hosted for many years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but now moving to Purdue University). As seen in this network map, roughly half of all states in the U.S. are involved. Within a participating state, university researchers, legislators and other policymakers, and experts from policy organizations collaborate to put on an annual or biennial seminar, each seminar focusing on a single topic of mutual interest. Texas’s liaisons to the Family Impact Seminar network include Texas Tech’s Dr. Reifman (replacing Jeff Wherry) and the University of Texas-Austin’s Dr. Cynthia Osborne.

garner podium

Last Friday, November 14, the Child & Family Research Partnership at UT-Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and the organization TexProtects teamed up to present a half-day seminar at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, entitled “Toxic Stress and Early Childhood: What Policy Makers and Funders Need to Know.” The featured speaker was Dr. Andrew Garner of Case-Western Reserve University, a practicing pediatrician and Ph.D. in neuroscience, who spoke about toxic stress and early brain development.

Additional speakers included Dr. Osborne (below left), Sarah Abrahams (below right), and others on nurse home-visiting programs as a policy to mitigate toxic stress and improve parents’ and children’s outcomes. (You may click on all photos to enlarge them.)

cynthia osborne sarah abrahams

Though the event was not an official Family Impact Seminar, it functioned very much like one. Importantly, the organizers of the Toxic Stress seminar kindly agreed to let Dr. Reifman administer the standard Family Impact Seminar evaluation questionnaire to members of the audience. We will thus have systematic feedback on the event, alongside the feedback received from Family Impact Seminars in other states.  A further summary of the Toxic Stress seminar (with links to the PowerPoint slideshows from the talks) is available here. In conclusion, we have a shot of our graduate student Janis Henderson chatting with Dr. Garner following his talk.

garner & janis

Categories: Faculty, Graduate Students, Outreach, Research

Lubbock Mayor Robertson Visits “Family in the Community” Class

Students in Dr. Shera Jackson’s HDFS 3322 course, “The Family in the Community,” got to hear about community development from a major player, none other than Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson, who visited on Wednesday, October 1. Robertson discussed his idea to extend Interstate 27 southward (and possibly also northward) to increase commerce and highway safety between Lubbock and other cities such as Midland and Odessa.

Though the discussion focused mostly on long-range infrastructure planning and political coalition-building, the mayor also addressed the impact his plans could have on families. One positive impact would be through the (estimated) increase in jobs associated with the project. Highway projects can sometimes have negative impacts on families if they displace established communities (click here for an example). However, Robertson was confident that, with limited exceptions, the towns through which the extended highway would run would be immune from construction-related disruptions.

Mayor Robertson also encouraged the students to vote in local elections, noting the role that city government plays in wide-ranging issues from water and electricity bills, to whether alcohol could be sold in city supermarkets and convenience stores.


mayor 1


In the photo below, Mayor Robertson, Dr. Jackson (center), and visitor Dr. Gail Bentley chat at the end of the class. Dr. Jackson and Dr. Bentley each received her Ph.D. in our department and the two have remained at Texas Tech as instructors.


mayor 2

Categories: Outreach, Teaching

Early Fall 2014 Briefs

A couple of items as the new academic year gets underway:

Dr. Dana Weiser’s research was featured in a recent Daily Toreador article.

Kim Corson, a 2011 Ph.D. recipient in our program, has a new position. She is Director of Educational Initiatives and Projects for Houston Public Media at the University of Houston. Before studying with us at Texas Tech, Kim worked at Chicago public broadcasting station WTTW, so her new role seems like a natural fit.

Categories: Faculty, Graduate-Degree Alumni, Outreach, Research

Research/Humanitarian Project in Africa

HDFS faculty member Malinda Colwell and graduate studenMalawi in Africat Holly Wright participated this summer in a unique research and humanitarian project in the African nation of Malawi (map from Wikimedia Commons). Along with faculty colleagues Mary Murimi (Nutritional Sciences) and Markus Miller (Animal & Food Sciences), and student assistants of these professors, Malinda and Holly traveled to Malawi to study the effects of nutritional assistance on behavioral and physical markers of child development. Malinda wrote the following first-person account of her summer trip and provided the accompanying photos.

I am part of a multidisciplinary team of faculty and students working on a research project in Malawi, Africa. We are assessing the effects of goat meat consumption on young children’s development, as well as the health of the children and their mothers. Malawi is the third poorest country in the world. And, although people have access to some food, it is not nutrient rich. Therefore, people often die from malnutrition and more specifically, a lack of protein in their diets. The participants are fed goat meat 5 days a week and we then assess the children’s development in all domains (social, emotional, physical, cognitive).  This summer, Holly Wright, an HDFS graduate student and I (along with other faculty and students from various departments) traveled to Malawi to work with the families and to collect the developmental data from the children. Our project is a partnership with Circle of Hope International (COHI), a non-profit that provides food, education, and housing to orphaned children in Malawi. We will continue to collect developmental data from the children every 3 months for a year. We hope that the addition of goat meat to the diet is associated with increase in health and development for the young children in Malawi.

The people in Malawi are very friendly and welcoming. I especially enjoyed spending time with the children, who are fascinated by “azungus” or “white people”. The children are very curious and have a lot of questions about the United States and they are eager to help visitors in any way. Although the people are living in extreme poverty, they are full of joy and thankfulness. Malawians are relational and hospitable people. They take time to greet each person in a group and they have a sincere interest in each other’s welfare. It was refreshing to be among people who spend so much time investing in one another and in their relationships.

The travel was exhausting and very long. But, when we arrived at the Grace Center, all of the children greeted us with singing, lots of smiles, and a welcoming ceremony and that made the long, tiring travel worth it! One of my favorite things about Malawi is the silence and the natural sounds, particularly at night. There is not consistent electricity in the village where we stayed. So, other than the sound of a generator we had for a couple of hours each evening, at night we would hear people singing from our village and surrounding villages, animals, and people talking. There weren’t the electronic sounds of computers, phones, etc. and it was refreshing. I didn’t really realize how much “noise” we have in our lives until that “noise” was all gone.

mc malawi 2

mc malawi 3

mc malawi 1

Categories: Faculty, Graduate Students, Outreach, Research

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