Professors Receive Grants for Research, Dedication

Hans Hansen and Jill Patterson were named fellows for the Texas Project for Human Rights Education.

Written by Lindsay Bradshaw and Jorge Cruz



Two Texas Tech University professors were named 2012 fellows for the Texas Project for Human Rights Education for their continuous research and dedication in advocating for justice in the death penalty system.

Hans Hansen, assistant professor in the Rawls College of Business, and Jill Patterson, professor in the Department of English, will each be awarded $20,000 to fund trips, create a human rights course and implement research.

In addition, both professors will travel on an Embrey Human Rights Program-sponsored trip in December to World War II Holocaust sites. The fellows also will meet with Holocaust survivors.

Hansen is the first professor from the Rawls College of Business to be awarded a human rights fellowship. He was selected for his work related to death penalty defense and an unyielding commitment to improve the justice system through rigorous research inquiry.

As part of the teaching component of the fellowship, he will teach a class on “The Corporation in Human Rights,” the first of its kind. It will examine the increasing role that corporations play in society, and will focus on human rights issues related to their increasing impact on society. 

“This will further distinguish Texas Tech University as an innovative, forward-thinking school that fosters critical and reflexive thinking in examining cutting-edge issues,” Hansen said.

The course will include not only university students but also Texas Tech alumni and members of the community who are interested in learning about the nexus of human rights and the corporation.

“I hope it offers a unique experience for some of our highly supportive, distinguished alumni – to participate in a course at the beautiful new facility that they helped build. I am looking for successful alumni who appreciate life-long learning and want to challenge their thinking as well as contribute to the development of fellow students. It will make the Rawls College of Business a better institution,” he said.

Patterson said she wants to create a class where writers learn to effectively use their storytelling skills to assist nonprofit organizations.



“I know breast cancer research organizations have a hard time getting women to come in for mammograms,” Patterson said. “So we would look at what kind of material can we come up with to distribute to women in high-risk neighborhoods about why they should come in. We have this gift as writers of telling stories, so what can we come up with that will reach out to specific audiences effectively?”

Spending many summers in Telluride, Colo. at San Miguel Resource Center, Patterson works extensively for the crisis hotline. With mostly women calling in, she reaches out to callers dealing with suicide, domestic violence, and sexual assault.

Aside from working for the hotline, Patterson is passionate about researching the Texas death penalty after learning more about the topic from her colleague, Hansen, who told her supporters of the penalty are nicknamed “automatic killers.”

“I started meeting a lot of defendants on death row,” Patterson said. “They’ve never been ugly to me; some of them are really funny and charming. And you’re required by Supreme Court to go back two full generations and look at their families. And most of them have had really terrible childhoods. Ninety-nine percent of them have been horribly abused.”

The fellowships are funded by the Embrey Human Rights Program at Southern Methodists University’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

For more information on the program, visit

Rawls College of Business

The Rawls College of Business accounts for about 25 percent of Texas Tech graduates.

The college has a full-time teaching staff of roughly 100 in seven academic areas: accounting; energy, economics and law; finance; health organization management; information systems and quantitative sciences; management; and marketing.

The college offers an accredited weekend MBA for Working Professionals program.

Dedicated to connecting students, alumni and employers, the Career Management Center assists Rawls College students with their transition to the world-of-work, and supplies prospective employers with top-notch candidates, ready to make an immediate contribution.

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