Transformation - 2008 President's Report

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The Urgency of Now - 2008 President's Report

Professorship Advances Psychology Program

Dr. Ann Vreeland

Ann Vreeland established the Nancy P. and John G. Penson Endowed Professorship in Clinical Health Psychology at UT Arlington in 2007 in honor of her parents—her first mentors and role models.

I feel blessed to have the parents I have, she said, and I wanted to do something in their names.

She knew the professorship would be an appropriate way to honor her parents because the Pensons had established a similar endowed professorship, the Elizabeth H. Penn Professorship in Clinical Psychology at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, in honor of Nancy Penson's mother.

Dr. Vreeland's parents met when her father, called Jack, was at Harvard and Nancy was a freshman classics major at Wellesley College. After marrying Nancy in 1943, Jack served overseas in the Army near the end of World War II. During this time, Nancy completed her degree. The country's top-ranked women's tennis player over age 50 at one time, she was the first woman inducted into the Texas Tennis Hall of Fame.

My mother was an independent woman back when it was not fashionable, Vreeland said.

After receiving his MBA, Jack Penson went on to a successful career as an investment counselor and in the oil business. The oldest of three daughters, Vreeland said her parents taught them that their accomplishments were not limited by their gender.

She began her own college career as a classics major at Pomona College in California. Changing majors her senior year, she completed her undergraduate degree in psychology at UT Austin, earned a master's degree in counseling psychology from Southern Methodist University and a doctorate in clinical psychology from UT Southwestern.

At UT Southwestern, she found another mentor, Robert Gatchel, now chair of UT Arlington's Psychology Department and holder of the professorship she established. She said Dr. Gatchel was a dedicated teacher and an excellent project manager as he guided her dissertation.

He has now supervised the dissertations of close to 80 students, and I think I was one of the first 10, she said, adding that Gatchel has become a close friend.

After many years as a psychologist in private practice, Vreeland is semi-retired. Her son, Nico, is now a graduate student at Emerson College in Boston. Her daughter, Hilary, is a senior at New York University Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

Vreeland said she chose to endow a professorship at UT Arlington because she was impressed by the quality of the program under Gatchel's leadership and wanted to support it and help it grow.