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SHSU Names Academic Building In Honor Of Alumna, Husband

May 12, 2010
SHSU Media Contact: Julia May


Eleanor Garrett
SHSU alumna Eleanor Garrett received an honorary doctorate during the May 15 afternoon commencement ceremony.

The building on the campus of Sam Houston State University where thousands of Texas educators are prepared to nurture the minds, skills and character of the students they teach is being named.

The Texas State University System Board of Regents has approved the university’s request to name its Teacher Education Center in honor of alumna Eleanor Garrett and her husband, Charles, in recognition of her lifelong support of elementary, secondary and higher education.

In addition, Mrs. Garrett will receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree during Sam Houston State University’s afternoon commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 15.

It will be the first time that an honorary doctorate has been awarded by the university since Bernard G. Johnson received one in 1987, and the only time that the honor has been bestowed during Jim Gaertner’s nine-year tenure as president of Sam Houston State University. Only six honorary doctorates have been awarded in the university’s 131-year history.

The TSUS regents approved naming the building the Eleanor and Charles Garrett Teacher Education Center in appreciation of a noteworthy gift to the university’s Share the Vision Capital Campaign from the Garretts. A formal dedication and naming ceremony is scheduled on campus August 6.

"We are so very grateful for the thoughtful and generous support that Eleanor and Charles Garrett have provided for our College of Education and its special education program, thus helping to enhance and solidify our college's position of leadership in instructing and developing outstanding educators and administrators,” Gaertner said.

“The focus of their generosity occupies a very special place in their hearts, which makes their decision to give to Sam Houston State even more meaningful to those of us who know and value their friendship,” he said.

“Mr. and Mrs. Garrett are difference makers in their business endeavors, their personal lives, and in their support of education. We are excited, proud, and delighted to be able to recognize them with the naming of the Teacher Education Center and by conferring the Honorary Doctorate upon Mrs. Garrett."

Their gift will fund two areas within the College of Education — the Eleanor and Charles Garrett Endowed Chair for Special Education and the Eleanor and Charles Garrett Graduate Fellowships in Special Education.

Earnings from the endowed chair will support an individual of national prominence in special education as a faculty member who will teach in SHSU’s College of Education, develop and broaden curriculum, conduct research, and collaborate with other educators through training programs and dissemination of information.

The fellowships will be awarded annually to help finance the education of graduate students whose primary emphasis is special education.

“This gift is such a strong indication of the Garretts’ commitment to education and to Sam Houston State University,” said Genevieve Brown, dean of SHSU’s College of Education. “We are deeply grateful to the Garretts and appreciative of their generosity.

“The endowment will be so helpful to our students, programs and the college as a whole,” she said.

The Garretts, who live in Garland, are generous supporters of Sam Houston State University. In 2003, they established the Eleanor Smith and Charles Lewis Garrett Endowment to provide scholarships for students majoring in elementary education.

Mrs. Garrett serves as a member of the SHSU Share the Vision Campaign’s Executive Leadership Council and is a Life Member of the SHSU Alumni Association. She was named a Distinguished Alumna of the university in 2008.

Both Mrs. Garrett’s parents were teachers, and she grew up with the expectation that she would carry on the family tradition of teaching. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education in 1954 and a Master of Education degree in 1955 at what was then Sam Houston State Teachers College.

Mrs. Garrett was a visiting teacher in Trinity County and taught at schools in Nederland, Vidor, Port Neches and Garland before she and her husband Charles, an engineering graduate of Lamar University, decided to start up the Garrett Metal Detector Company in 1964.

Mr. Garrett had a passion for treasure hunting, and the company was established because of his desire to create a better metal detector. After 15 successful years, the Garretts expanded into the security industry.

The company has grown into the world’s largest manufacturer of virtually all types of metal detection equipment including hobby, law enforcement, security, and all-metal detection military devices. It provides walk-through scanners and hand-held detection wands at airports all over the world and has furnished security equipment to all the summer Olympic games and most of the winter Olympics for over 25 years.

The Garretts also maintain a tree farm in East Texas and were honored with the Texas Tree Farmer of the Year Award from the Texas Forestry Association in 2002.

Mrs. Garrett is a leader in many organizations, serving in local and state offices for the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the Daughters of American Colonists. She is a national officer of the Magna Charta Dames and Barons and a member of the Mannakin Huguenot Society, Daughters of the American Revolution, United States Daughters of 1812 and the Manx Society.

She was commissioned a “Yellow Rose of Texas” by Gov. Rick Perry, an award given to honor Texas women for outstanding volunteer and community service.

Mr. Garrett, who served in the Texas National Guard and U. S. Navy, was commissioned as an “Admiral in the Texas Navy” by Gov. Perry for his outstanding volunteerism and community service.

The Teacher Education Center at Sam Houston State University was built in 1976. The facility is approximately 87,000 square feet and houses faculty and staff offices, teaching labs, classrooms and service areas for the departments of curriculum and instruction; office of the dean; educational leadership and counseling; and language, literacy and special populations; and the adjoining Counseling Education Center.


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