Beloved Dean Says Goodbye To SHSU After More Than Four Decades In Education
|Students in the College of Education jumped at the chance to be photographed with Dean Genevieve Brown, who will retire from SHSU in January after a 48-year career in education, more than half of which have been at SHSU. —Photos by Brian Blalock|
She's been described as a cheerleader, pillar and visionary, someone who is tireless, observant and energetic. She's a friend, mentor, wife, mother and grandmother. Soon, she'll have something new to add to the list—retiree.
Genevieve Brown, dean of the College of Education at Sam Houston State University, will retire Jan. 15 after 48 years in education, 28 of which have been at SHSU.
"I've just loved it," Brown said. "It's been my calling."
Throughout her career, Brown has been the recipient of numerous awards and served on several local, state and national boards, organizations and committees. She is the author or editor of more than a dozen books and has contributed even more via book chapters, papers and essays. One of her favorite topics to write about or lecture on is women in education.
"Back in the ’70s, there weren't very many women in leadership positions," Brown said. "I remember discovering there was one female superintendent in the entire state of Texas. There were women in higher education, but not particularly in leadership roles."
Whether the incoming dean wears high heels or wingtips, Brown's advice is the same.
"Recognize what a great place Sam Houston is," Brown said. "Appreciate the wonderful faculty and students, and set in place systems so everyone can do his or her very best."
Everybody's the teacher's pet
|Brown, with some of the many student assistants who work in the College of Education's five departments.|
Brown has overseen significant growth during her tenure at SHSU, including national recognition of the educator preparation program, the development of five new master’s degree programs and a doctoral program, and instituting the annual Sam Houston State University Distinguished Educator awards banquet.
Tommy Poe, director of Region VI Education Service Center in Huntsville, said Brown takes time to showcase the stars in her field, whether it's students, staff or faculty.
"She has completed a multifaceted circle of improvement," Poe said.
Brown doesn't quite see it that way.
"Anything that's happened has been a team effort, that's for sure," she said.
Jennifer Moore, 25, was on that team from 2005-2009 as Brown's student assistant. Call it serendipity or call it fate, because Moore didn't plan on becoming an educator until the day she accidentally crossed Brown's threshold.
"I was supposed to be somewhere else, but walked into the wrong office," said Moore, at the time a biology student considering a career in dentistry. "I happened to walk into hers. Things just fell into place for education, and working for her was a big part of that."
Moore is now a science teacher at Huntsville High School, a true-life example of one of the college's mottos, "Today’s Learners, Tomorrow’s Leaders."
Another example is Conroe ISD Superintendent Don Stockton, a student of Brown's from 1987 when he was a working on his mid-management certification.
"She is a cheerleader for education," Stockton said. "She's a dear friend and the sort of person who will be very busy in her retirement."
Brown does, in fact, anticipate devoting more hours to causes close to her heart. A member of Elkins Lake Baptist Church, Brown is eager to expand her involvement in several ministries including women's bible study and prison outreach. She is also active with the Boys and Girls Club of Walker County, and delights in the idea of more family time with her husband, four children and eight grandchildren.
Pretending leads to life-long career
Originally from Commerce, a small city in northeast Texas, Brown was that little girl who came home from school…and played school.
"Teachers have always had such a positive influence on me," Brown said. "I thought how great it would be to have a profession like that. I don't remember a time I didn't want to be a teacher."
In 1963, Brown graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at East Texas State University, now known as Texas A&M University-Commerce. That was followed in 1969 with a master's degree in English, and, in 1979, a doctorate in educational administration.
Brown launched her career in 1964 as an English and French teacher at Sulphur Springs High School in north Texas, where she was also chair of the language arts department. By 1974, Brown was director of curriculum and instruction for the Commerce Independent School District and by 1981 was an assistant superintendent at Katy ISD. She joined SHSU as a professor in 1984, and became dean of the College of Education in 2002.
Brown's assistant Sherry Hirsch said Brown's vita is indeed impressive, but it's the person Hirsch admires most.
"Nowhere on her vita does it say how she helped students, how she makes time to listen to a concerned faculty, or consoled a student, how she's raised awareness in the community for kids in need, how she prayed with me over the phone late one night when I was losing my mother, or how she still beams when her husband walks in her office," Hirsch said. "All of this amazes me, still to this day."
Hirsch is not alone.
"If I go to a football game, or to the grocery store, and am wearing a (SHSU) College of Education shirt, people ask if I work there and I tell them that I work as Dr. Brown's assistant," Hirsch said. "I will be there for a while with them, having found yet another friend and fan of Dr. Brown."
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