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Match Made in Heaven

Mae Houston-Lantrip

Mae Houston-Lantrip

The foundation for our new Houston-Lantrip Center for Literacy and Learning (HLC) is completed, and construction is well under way! We are anticipating great things to happen in this space. We recently invited students to write prayers and blessings on the building site. You may have heard about the HLC, but what you may not know is the story behind its primary donor, Mae Houston-Lantrip.

Mae Houston-Lantrip was born May 5, 1925 in Abilene, attended Abilene schools, and graduated from Hardin-Simmons University in 1946. While at HSU, she majored in education and was active on campus as an HSU Cowgirl, President of the Home Economics Club, and member of the Science and Chemistry Clubs. She went on to teach chemistry, biology, and physics at Abilene Junior High School for one year. It seems, however, her favorite subject was home economics because she continued her schooling in the subject and earned her master’s degree before accepting a position as head of the home economics department at Hardin-Simmons.

In 1949, Mae joined International Harvester Co. (IH) as a district office home economist in Sweetwater. She was quickly promoted to regional home economist for an eight-state area and was based in Oklahoma City. At the young age of 27, Mae was named Director of Home Economics for IH, working in their corporate headquarters in Evansville, Indiana, and traveling the nation. While in Evansville, Mae met Paul Lantrip, a pharmacist, they married in 1955 and had a daughter. The family eventually relocated to Dallas, where they lived until their deaths. After moving back to Texas, Mae enjoyed reconnecting with HSU and catching up with her former classmates, and she joined the Board of Development in 1997.

Mae Houston-Lantrip

Meanwhile, Hardin-Simmons had established a literacy and learning program in the ’90s dedicated to providing support for individuals with dyslexia and other learning differences through teacher education, professional development, community outreach, and parental and student resources. Because Mae had a close relationship to someone with dyslexia, she was especially interested in supporting this growing and flourishing program. In 2002, she created an endowment to support the program at HSU, which was then renamed the Houston-Lantrip Center for Literacy and Learning. Mae passed away unexpectedly in 2013, and had included a very generous bequest to Hardin-Simmons in her will with the provision that the funds be used for a building for the School of Education, if there was a need at the time.

Hardin-Simmons was definitely experiencing a need for more educational space with an increasing number of children being diagnosed as dyslexic and more teachers needing to be trained to work with multiple learning abilities. To accommodate this growth, plans were started for a building designed just for the HLC.

Mae had the foresight to realize that she might be able to make the biggest impact of her life after her lifetime. Beautiful achievements occur at the intersection of donors’ passions and educators’ dreams.

Under construction now, the HLC building is projected to be completed by the fall of 2019. The facility will provide learning environments that can adapt through the integration of embedded technology, flooring and wall finishes, and audio and visual enhancements. These multi-sensory experiences are a vital part of effective therapy for both children with dyslexia and those with autism spectrum disorder. The building will have two wings, with one dedicated to the dyslexia program and the other for the autism program. Because of the new facility, more current teachers will be able to undergo training, and our undergraduate education majors will be exposed to training much sooner than is typical.

Mae’s generosity and passion for literacy and learning, along with the University’s desire to positively impact children of all learning abilities, is truly a match made in heaven.

Like Mae, you can have a significant impact on Hardin-Simmons University and be a part of providing an education enlightened by faith. Contact Mike Hammack or one of our development officers at plannedgiving@hsutx.edu or (325) 670-1260 to learn more about your giving options.

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