Mary Doak, Florence Drane, Margaret Weeks and Marsha Sharp are in a class unto themselves.
It takes a lot to have a building named after you. You have to make a significant contribution to a place to go down in history in brick and mortar. You have to leave a legacy worthy of remembrance.
In honor of Women's History Month, these are the stories of four women who left indelible marks on Texas Tech University and the buildings that are their namesakes.
Mary Woodward Doak
Mary Woodward Doak was a professor in the English department for 25 years, but she was best known for her role as the first dean of women at Texas Tech.
Born Feb. 15, 1876, on the Bar Bona Ranch in Live Oak County, Texas, Mary Woodward married a lawyer, Vernon Doak, in 1899 and they started a family. After the deaths of her son Charles in 1906 and her husband in 1911, Mary Doak went to school to become an educator to support herself and her two daughters, Mary and Martha. She earned bachelor's degrees in English and government from Sam Houston State Teachers College and the University of Texas, and then taught in the Austin and Taylor public schools before teaching English at the University of Texas. In 1925, she moved to Lubbock as a member of the original faculty of the newly formed Texas Technological College, where she earned her master's degree in English and sociology in 1929.
Outside of teaching, Doak made a large contribution to the college that many people don't know about.
“Doak visited the British Museum early on when she was at Texas Tech. She came back and did a little presentation to other faculty members about the British Museum and from that presentation came the idea that ‘Texas Tech needs a museum,'” said Texas Tech archivist Lynn Whitfield. “Momentum gained and a couple of professors ran with it, and from there is how we got the Museum of Texas Tech – it was from her. She said, ‘We have this wonderful history, we're building a new institution; we should have a museum.' A lot of people don't remember that she was the inspiration for that.”
In her main role as dean of women, Doak was responsible for dealing with conduct and disciplinary issues for the girls under her care.
“Women had really strict curfews and things like that in those days, and she was the one who would have to tackle that if people broke curfew,” Whitfield said. “She was starting from scratch, so she had to develop policies and create handbooks. There are things called the Tech Tips, and those are the policies for women. The women had these handbooks that said, this is etiquette, this is how you dress for what occasion, this is how you should carry yourself, and this is your curfew.”
Doak was active in promoting women's education during her tenure. She organized Las Chaparritas, the first women's social club on campus, in 1926; worked to establish the Council of Women Graduates in 1927, which later helped the Lubbock chapter of the American Association of University Women become affiliated with the national association; and organized the Texas Tech chapter of the Association of Women Students in 1929. The Forum, an honorary service organization for senior female students, was established in 1937 largely due to her efforts.
In cooperation with Margaret Weeks, dean of home economics, Doak inaugurated the Women's Recognition Service in 1932, which continued until 1947 with sponsorship from the Quarterly Club and the Association of Women Students. Additionally, a scholarship was set up under her name by the Lubbock chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma.
According to her obituary in the campus newspaper, the Toreador, Doak was active in many fields: She was the state parliamentarian of the American Association of University Women; state chairman of the finance committee of Delta Kappa Delta; local president of Delta Kappa Gamma, a national teachers' fraternity; president of the Quarterly Club campus faculty organization; and a member of the social life committee, the administrative committee and the discipline committee until her retirement as active dean of women in 1945. She retired from teaching in 1950 and died April 20, 1952, after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
The first women's dormitory on the Texas Tech campus, built in 1934 for just more than $313,000 – about $5.5 million today – bears her name. The location of Doak Hall set a precedent.
“When the university opened in 1925, there were no dormitories,” Whitfield said, explaining that until the first residence halls were built, students lived off campus. “They put the men on the north side of Broadway and the women on the south side, and that's kind of what happened with all the boarding houses down Broadway. It used to be a joke that where you see all the men are the women's dormitories.
“So when they started building dormitories, that's what they did – men on one side, women on the other. Those became West and Doak, they're right across from one another. And then later on, you've got Sneed and Weeks facing one another.”
By separating the men's and women's dormitories, the administration created a separate space in which the women of the campus could grow and flourish – a sense that still exists there.
“I really like the building,” said Tricia Earl, the coordinator for Texas Tech's Women's Studies Program, which is now housed in Doak Hall. “When you exit toward the Glenna Goodacre sculpture there, with the Human Sciences building and its mission, and the playground, there's something about this part of campus that has a very grounded force in being a visible place to look at the history of women on our campus and the impact they've made.”
In addition to Women's Studies, Doak Hall is home to individual programs under the Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Community Engagement, including the Cross-Cultural Academic Advancement Center, the Institute for the Development & Enrichment of Advanced Learners, Mentor Tech, the Office of Community Engagement, the First Generation, Transition, & Mentoring Programs and Upward Bound.
“I think it's wonderful,” Whitfield said. “The reason why I think women's history is important is everyone has a contribution they can make; everyone has a story. By promoting diversity and women's history, that's what they're trying to do: make sure these stories live on. I think Doak would be thrilled that's still happening in her building because that's what she focused on, too. She wanted women to be successful; she wanted to have programs that the community could come participate in.”
During its lifetime, Doak Hall has been the home of students from all walks of life: men and women, freshmen, upperclassmen and graduate students alike. It has hosted the College of Education; the Admissions and Registrar's offices; the College of Home Economics, now called the College of Human Sciences; and the offices for University Student Housing and Hospitality Services. The second and third floors of Doak Hall are now closed to the public pending renovation efforts.
“If you go up to the second floor, which we're not really supposed to go up there but it's not blocked off, there's this really unique ballroom and a piano with a fireplace and kitchen off to the side,” Earl said. “At least with the building here, because it's not occupied on the second and third floor, I get to see a little more of what was here before I even existed, before I came to campus.
“The story goes if you're ever here by yourself at night, or late on weekends, if you hear the piano playing, it's Mary Doak. Even if they're joking by saying that, it makes me feel good about what we're doing. I'm in a building that initially started with the intent to empower women by giving them a space to exist on campus and to feel nurtured. I just imagine that's what Mary Doak was all about. Maybe I'm a little superstitious, but I feel some energy – or I wish that I do feel some sort of historical energy – that's helping push me along in how I'm guiding and being an advocate for students here on campus.”
Florence A. Drane
Florence A. Drane was the first woman to serve as interim president of Texas Tech in 1932, which made history in more than one way, but her contributions far exceeded what she did during that two-month term.
Florence Adelia Bingham was born Jan. 13, 1864, in Morgan County, Ohio, to a minister and his wife. After growing up in Wilmington, Ohio, she attended business college in Oswego, New York. After graduating, she accepted a business position in Corsicana, where she met and married businessman Frank Neal Drane in 1885. The couple had two children, son Hugh and daughter Dorothy. The early years of her married life were devoted to her home and family, but as the children got older and she found herself with more free time, Florence Drane began to take part in more outside activities, particularly in church and club circles.
During World War I, she served as county chairman of war savings and assistant to the food conservation chairman. She was a war work leader, a member of the YWCA's southwest committee and a member of the county council of defense.
In the meantime, Frank's business ventures took off. He bought a controlling interest in the City National Bank in 1896 and served as its president until 1914. He established the Corsicana Power and Light Company in 1901, which he later sold to Texas Power and Light. He helped form the Texas Electric Railway Company and served as its vice president.
Due probably as much to her husband's prominence as her own efforts, in 1923 Florence Drane was one of two women Texas Gov. Pat Neff appointed to the board of directors for the newly established Texas Technological College.
“When she found out Texas Tech was going to happen, she wanted to be a part of it,” Whitfield said. “She was someone of influence, based on the way she dressed and based on the fact she was appointed to the board. You have to have influence to be appointed to the board, even today. She was very interested in Texas Tech being established. There was nothing up here like that, so I think that was part of her interest: now there was an opportunity for a co-ed college to be in this area where there previously was nothing. I think she went out of her way to make sure she was appointed to it.”
But she was hardly riding on her husband's coattails.
“She was someone of importance, not only in this area, but enough so the governor of Texas knew who she was,” Whitfield said. “She was a woman of means, a woman of status and stature. You see pictures of her, she looks like a formidable woman who knows her mind – like somebody you would not want to cross. I think because of that, she was successful.”
In 1924, before the college opened, Florence Drane wrote a letter to Texas Tech President Paul W. Horn to express her feelings about it: “It is impossible for me to tell you how very deeply interested I am in the College. … I am giving the best I have to it, and will until it stands a living monument to the greatness of Texas.”
She served continuously on the board for nine years and, following the unexpected death of President Horn on April 13, 1932, the board of directors named Drane acting president on May 6.
“She signed all the diplomas for the 1932 graduates,” Whitfield said. “She was not officially the president – she didn't make policies, she didn't interfere with the academics; she just stepped in to do what tasks they told her needed to be done until they could hire a new president. For her, I think it was mostly just making sure graduation happened and she signed the diplomas.”
In announcing the decision, board chairman Clifford B. Jones said the position made Drane the first woman in the history of American higher education to act as head of a large, state-owned co-educational institution.
Her achievement was short-lived, however. Barely two months after her appointment to the position, the 68-year-old died in her home in Corsicana on July 11, 1932, the victim of a third illness within a matter of weeks, according to newspaper reports.
In a statement supported by fellow director Roscoe Wilson, Jones remembered Drane as “one of the most valuable members of our board. She has been exceedingly faithful to board attendance and has taken particular interest in the home economics school. She was one of the most remarkable business women I have ever known and brought a wide and varied business experience to her duties as a member of our board.”
Girl's Dormitory No. 2, which opened for the fall of 1941, was later renamed Florence A. Drane Hall in her honor. At a cost of $371,428 – nearly $6 million today – it alternated housing men and women until it was closed as a residence hall in 1969. At that time, it was used to accommodate the newly opened medical school while a permanent building was constructed.
A May 13, 1969, article in The University Daily shared many of the women moving out of Drane Hall for the last time were sad to see it go.
“Tears and nostalgia are commodities seldom connected with moving out of a dorm. But for many of the girls now living in Drane Hall – particularly the upper-class women who have been there more than one year – leaving their dorm, one of the oldest on campus, will be very much like saying good bye to an old friend,” the article reads. “If you don't believe it, note the tears splashing from the flowers on the ‘Goodbye, Drane' sign.
“‘We feel horrible,' said Sharon Leach, a Drane office girl who helped paint the sign. ‘We think it's the best dorm on campus. We have a nice formal lounge, a new stereo, and the dorm is old and friendly. We have activities like the Sadie Hawkins Day dance, Christmas dance and Spring Formal – things none of the other dorms have.'”
Since 1974, Drane Hall has served as office space for many of the university's business areas, including travel, procurement, vendor, accounting and audit services. It also now houses TTUISD, the Military & Veterans Program and University Studies.
After the necessary renovations to make it a usable working space, Drane Hall no longer looks like a former dormitory on the inside, except for the offices on the second and third floors. Each with a uniform size, shape and layout, it's still easy to imagine the days when the rooms held twin beds instead of desks. It seems a fitting tribute to Florence Drane's legacy in business.
Margaret Watson Weeks
As its first dean, Margaret Watson Weeks was instrumental in the growth of Texas Tech's Home Economics Department, which helped the university stay afloat during World War II.
Weeks was born Feb. 5, 1886, in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. She began teaching grade school in Canada and eventually worked her way through college, earning her bachelor's degree in home economics education from Columbia University in 1922 and her master's degree in nutrition in 1925.
She taught in the Houston public schools and at Northwestern State College in Louisiana, specializing in nutrition and home management, before joining the original faculty of Texas Technological College in 1925 as the dean of home economics.
“Home economics is where the women were pretty much concentrated when the university came out,” Whitfield said. “One of the first things they tackled was setting up a Margaret Weeks Loan Fund, so they raised money that female students in the department could apply for to help pay their expenses for the semester. I haven't seen anything about interest, and maybe there was, but it would be so minor. It was one way of helping women be able to get their education.
“I would hazard to say all the female students that came when Texas Tech first opened were first-generation. Sometimes they needed financial help. The Legislature gave the university enough to get started and not much more, so Weeks and the Home Economics Club recognized that and set up that loan fund to help first-time college students.”
The Home Economics Department was instrumental in the Lubbock community during its early years.
“They put on programs, the ‘Town and Gown' kind of things, that the Lubbock community would come to,” Whitfield said. “They had a charm school that community women could come and learn manners and how to dress and things like that. During the war years, they would put on different kinds of programs for wives who were here with their husbands.”
Under Weeks' leadership, home economics students and faculty planted a victory garden on campus, escorted military cadets to functions and kept the university running despite constant strains on resources.
Weeks was the first president of the Faculty Club, among a long list of other achievements. She helped organize the Home Economics Club in 1925, the Double Key Honor Society in 1930 and the first Texas chapter of the Phi Upsilon Omicron National Honor Society in 1938. Working with Doak, Weeks began the Women's Recognition Service in 1932, which continued until 1947. She also was responsible for orchestrating the construction of an addition to the Home Economics Building in 1952.
She gained a reputation for being an organizer, administrator and tireless worker in the struggle for recognition of home economics. Her original classes had only 58 students, but when she retired more than 1,200 women had passed through the courses.
Upon Weeks' retirement on Aug. 31, 1953, E.N. Jones, president of the school, said, “Dean Weeks has been the embodiment of the pioneer spirit to which so much of the success of Texas Tech is due. Her devotion to the welfare and progress of the institution, and especially that of the Home Economics Division, has been one of the highlights of faculty contributions. We deeply regret her retirement.”
In mid-January 1967, then-Dean of Home Economics Willa Tinsley said, “In the early years of her career here, Techsans came to admire and respect the Canadian-born Miss Weeks because she loved West Texas with all of its hardships and disadvantages and did her utmost to bring courteous formality to Lubbock.”
Weeks died Jan. 28, 1967, after a lengthy illness.
The Margaret Watson Weeks Dormitory, known as Weeks Hall, opened for the fall of 1957. It cost more than $1.7 million – about $14.6 million today.
Upon its designation, Margaret Weeks sent a letter to the board of directors: “Please express to the Board of Directors my deep appreciation of the honor they have conferred upon me by giving my name to the new dormitory for women. … I know I do not need to tell you of my great interest and my love for Tech. Although I feel unworthy of the honor, it pleases me very much that one of the buildings is named for me.”
The building housed students for more than three decades, but Whitfield said, “As the buildings got older, students wanted more modern conveniences, like air conditioning.”
Weeks Hall was officially closed after the 1990-91 school year, and most of it remains closed.
“The reason it's taken so long now is they've been doing asbestos abatement,” Whitfield said. “We used to have part of our archive holdings over there. It became a storage facility for departments all over campus. I know multiple departments were using that as storage. There had been talk for at least 10 years about converting that for classroom space, but it's the renovation costs that are making progress on that building so difficult.”
The Board of Regents considered demolishing Weeks Hall in 2009, but ultimately decided against it.
“They're going to finish it and make it into usable space, so they're not going to let it fall down and go into ruin,” Whitfield said. “I think the costs have just gotten really high to renovate it because now they have to put in up-to-date fire codes, fire alarms, tornado alarms, air conditioning – just bringing it up to modern standards is why it's taking so long.
“I don't think it's going to be a dormitory; I'd be really shocked. I think it's going to be classroom space and storage space and maybe offices for some faculty who need it.”
One section of the first floor has been renovated to house the College of Visual & Performing Arts' costume shop. Amanda Staats, costume shop supervisor, said she toured the building for the first time in December 2014 and the facilities were cleaned in January 2015.
Despite a new look and feel, some original elements from the building remain: tile and parquet flooring, stone columns and art deco iron work hint at the building's history. But because only the new section has been renovated, it's been completely walled off from the rest of Weeks.
“We're a little enclosed new box in an old shell,” Staats said. “From what I understand, we're a stepping stone to save this building.”
It's an effort many people support.
“This is one of the things I love about Texas Tech: it does, if possible, try to preserve its historic buildings,” Whitfield said. “That's all part of the historic district. That building is going through a renovation and it will be usable space and will fit curriculum changes.
“I'm sure Margaret Weeks would not be happy what it's gone through, but I think she understands the university is growing and space is being renovated to fit that. It's not being discarded. I don't think it would bother her that it's no longer a dormitory because now the groups that would be using it are going to be interdisciplinary. You have theater in there, but I suspect you're going to have other departments working in there as well, so in a way, it kind of brings the campus together. If you look at it that way, it's a positive thing.”
Former Texas Tech women's basketball coach Marsha Sharp is often thought of for the on-court accomplishments during her 23 years leading the Lady Raiders: the 1993 National Championship, eight conference titles, two National Coach of the Year honors, a National Player of the Year and coaching several All-Americans. But that's not the reason a campus building was named after her.
Sharp was born Aug. 31, 1952, in Washington, where her father was stationed in the U.S. Navy. She grew up in Tulia and played guard in the days of three-on-three girls basketball. She got her start in coaching while attending Wayland Baptist University in Plainview. Sharp was a member of the Queen Bees for two years and then directed the freshman team during her junior and senior years. She earned her bachelor's degree from Wayland in 1974 and served as a graduate assistant coach for the 1974-75 season while working on the master's degree she earned from West Texas State University (now West Texas A&M University) in 1976 – demonstrating success on the court and in the classroom can go hand-in-hand.
Academics were always a priority for Marsha Sharp. She came to Texas Tech as an assistant coach for the 1981-82 season before becoming head coach of the Lady Raiders. Under her, the program had a 97 percent graduation rate for student-athletes who exhausted their four-year eligibility at Texas Tech. Her players have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, physical therapists, teachers, coaches, professional athletes and more.
Judi Henry, senior associate athletics director and senior women's administrator in Texas Tech's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, said Sharp always made it a priority to focus more on life outside of sports.
“She's a great teacher and educator and it's what she's been all about as a coach: to teach young women how to play the game but more than that, life lessons and how to be successful beyond,” Henry said. “That's been a platform she's always strived to achieve and talked about.”
One of Sharp's biggest goals has been to leave a place better than she found it, Henry said.
“She's done that. She's been incredible with her legacy,” Henry said. “People obviously think about the 1993 national championship, and that's one piece of it and certainly high profile and a great accomplishment for those young women, for the coaching staff and for Texas Tech and the Lubbock community, but it's been so much more than that. She's been a teacher, she's authored books, she's given financially both to Texas Tech and the community, and she's given her time to serve on numerous organizations and committees and spoken nationally.
“The two things that stand out to me are she has left Texas Tech a much better place and she has touched and impacted untold numbers of lives, whether that was her student-athletes or their parents or their children now, or whether it was fans or other people. There have been so many things she does behind the scenes that nobody knows about: going to the hospital to visit people, going to funerals of Lady Raider fans, which is so meaningful to their families. She's just an incredible force.”
Sharp's main role now is with the Fearless Champions Leadership Academy, the first comprehensive program of its kind in a collegiate athletics department. The academy is designed to prepare student-athletes for life after graduation through a focus on character and leadership, wellness and life skills, career education, community service and professional development.
Marsha Sharp Center for Student Athletes
Sharp's dedication to academics culminated with the naming of the Marsha Sharp Center for Student Athletes, which opened in January 2004.
“It's our center that's focused on academics,” Henry said. “At one time, we had our academic unit for athletics in Wiggins, where the dining hall was. You'll hear staff members and people who were here then talk about how you'd walk in to get academic tutoring and smell fried chicken. There was always that food smell. It was the best place we had at the time, but there's been an increased need with the growth of the department for a place of its own for academics to be housed.
“We knew we wanted a standalone building with that as its focus. Marsha provided the gift and it took off from there. And now it's such a central part of our student-athletes' lives.”
At a cost of $4.1 million, the center's construction was funded primarily through donations and tuition funds. Sharp made the lead donation to begin fundraising efforts because, as Henry said, “anything Marsha puts her efforts behind, there are many people who follow because they have such great respect for what she's accomplished and what she believes in.”
Whitfield said although Sharp donated money to the project, neither the donation nor Sharp's winning record were the main reason for naming the center in her honor.
“I know she donated money because education is her big thing, but it's because of her legacy – not because she won the '93 game,” Whitfield said. “It's a big deal, but everyone always focuses on that '93 game instead of her career overall. She's been in basketball for maybe three decades in different schools, and each time she's built up really strong athletic programs but every time, she focused on academics. She expected her players to graduate, and that's why when a building was named after her, it was an academic building.
“For me, it's her legacy in the span of her life, not one year of basketball. Everyone I talk to, that's all they want to remember about her and I'm like, no, she has a much larger legacy. I think that's why she chose to donate to a building that was specifically focused on helping students graduate.”
The facility was designed to promote academic success for each student-athlete. With sufficient space for private study, a state-of-the art computer lab, supplemental instruction classrooms and private conferencing areas for tutoring and mentoring appointments, the center works to support the students balancing academics and athletics.
“We use it heavily in recruiting so parents and prospective student-athletes can understand the focus on academics and also the support we provide from our staff members and counselors to tutors to learning specialists to the computer labs and the classroom and our life skills program,” Henry said. “It is really intended to complement not just their academic world but also involvement in community and skills that will make them successful.”
When considered all together, Whitfield said there's a common thread between Mary Doak, Florence Drane, Margaret Weeks and Marsha Sharp.
“It's the same reason I choose certain women to be honored every year: they are either groundbreakers or they are the first to do something, and then they have a legacy that has spanned several decades,” said Whitfield, who organizes the annual Women Who Shaped Texas Tech exhibit in the University Library. “Those women were honored because of their legacies.”
And these four are not alone, which Women's Studies coordinator Earl said she hopes will be a starting point for future naming opportunities.
“We know in the history of Texas Tech there are more women who have made significant changes and efforts to the cause,” Earl said. “I just think the significance of these buildings so far should catapult other women's roles in history – as well as current-day – that could benefit a future building, being named after a significant female who has made a contribution to the campus.”
Note: Because this article focuses on buildings named after women, it does not include the six buildings on campus named after both husbands and wives. Those are: the Burkhart Center for Autism Education & Research, named after Jim & Jere Lynn Burkhart; Gates Hall, named after William and Eunice Gates; the Lanier Professional Development Center, named after Mark and Becky Lanier; McClellan Hall, named after Len and Harriett McClellan; the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center, named after Michael and Barbara Esslinger McKenzie and Gerald and Sammy Merket; and Talkington Hall, named after J.T. and Margaret Talkington.