Endowed scholarship to honor longtime professor
Posted: 03/20/2006
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When Dr. Martha May Tevis came to The University of Texas-Pan American - then Pan American College - in 1967 to teach Latin and education classes, there were six buildings, 100 faculty members and about 3,000 students. Still teaching 39 years later at a UTPA campus that now has 70 buildings, 585 full-time faculty members and more than 17,000 students, Tevis has remained "true to her school" and embodies the quote from famed educator John Dewey that adorns her e-mail salutation - "Education is not a preparation for life; education is life itself."

To recognize her long and dedicated career and service to the University, Tevis will be honored at an April 7 fundraising event to establish an endowed scholarship in her name for UTPA students pursuing a master's in secondary education. The event will take place 6-8 p.m. at the McAllen Country Club.

- Dr. Martha May Tevis
The endowed scholarship fund is being initiated with a $5,000 donation from Yvonne Anderson, UTPA Foundation International Women's Board member and wife of the late UTPA Department of Music Chair Dr. John Anderson, a longtime colleague of Tevis.

"I am doing this in honor of our great friendship and the friendship between the two different colleges on campus," said Anderson, recalling the connection of the fine arts and education departments represented by the professional camaraderie that developed between Tevis and Anderson's husband.

Anderson said she hoped those who want to recognize Tevis' contribution to education and the improvement of educational opportunities in the Valley will support the scholarship endowment fund with a donation.

"The establishment of an endowed scholarship in my name was the nicest gift of my life," Tevis said of the scholarship to support graduate education for Rio Grande Valley teachers. "We want the best teachers in the classroom and those are the teachers who have continued their education and never quit being educated; part of that is getting a master's degree."

A native Texan from Wichita Falls, Tevis received her Bachelor of Arts with a major in Latin and a minor in English and Master of Arts in education with a specialization field in Latin, both from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio. She received her doctorate from The University of Texas at Austin in the history and philosophy of education. Presently, Tevis serves as a professor and graduate adviser in the College of Education's Department of Curriculum and Instruction where she teaches graduate courses and writes degree plans for the master's programs in elementary and secondary education.

Tevis said her entry into an education career was influenced by a mother who was a teacher and an early and avid love of reading.

"I was read to continuously as I was the only child in the family. Reading became a real love and is a passion with me to this day. Also, I always loved teachers and teaching," Tevis said.

Tevis, who served as University chairman of UTPA's 75th anniversary events in 2002, said one of the most significant changes she¹s seen at UTPA, aside from its 1989 entry into The University of Texas System, is the offering of master's and doctoral degrees. Prior to that, most Valley educators had to travel long distances to obtain graduate education. The availability of graduate degree programs here, she said, has had a fantastic impact on the community.

"I have been working with the Math/Science Collaborative which recruits teachers in math and science who want to stay in the classroom but want to enhance their education. We bring them here to get a master's degree in elementary or secondary education with a minor area in math or science. This past year it was so exciting to me to realize that we now have in Hidalgo County graduates of that program serving as science coordinators in Mission, La Joya, PSJA, Donna and as the math coordinator for Region One," she said proudly. Having a special research interest in equity in education, Tevis praised the leadership and contributions regarding that issue by former UTPA President Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez and Dr. Arnulfo Martinez, the first Hispanic vice president at UT Pan American. Tevis said another one of her notable mentors was Dr. George I. Sanchez, the leading pioneer of Mexican-American rights in the United States. Tevis is currently completing a biography of Sanchez.

A mechanized cart sporting a UT Longhorn bumper sticker now assists movement about campus by Tevis, who was stricken with polio at age 15. However, her energy and enthusiasm about UTPA's future and her next career goals remain strong.

"I am developing a special topics course in educational biography. What I want to do is to get the students to do biographies about important Hispanic educators and special educators in their community. Then I want them to put a book together. I want kids to know who the heroes are," she said.

For more information on the event or to contribute to the Dr. Martha May Tevis Endowed Scholarship Fund, call 956/381-3361.