Women Who Shaped Texas Tech – 2017

For the last several years, our University Archives Women’s History Month exhibit entitled “The Women Who Shaped Texas Tech” has graced our hallways. It celebrates women whose influence on Texas Tech University is still felt today. This year’s honorees represent some of the best and brightest contributors to Tech’s excellence.

Head - Ginger Kerrick-B.W.

Ginger Kerrick was born on November 28, 1969, in El Paso, Texas, and spent her youth dreaming of a future career in space and athletics. A knee injury early in her college years led her to focus full-time on science education, and so she transferred to Texas Tech University with the help of scholarships and student job opportunities procured by Dr. Walter Borst of the Physics Department. She earned her B.S. in 1991 and her M.S. in 1993, both in the field of physics. An internship with the Johnson Space Center got her foot in NASA’s door, and her dogged determination to gain full-time employment with the agency proved successful despite a hiring freeze and disqualification from the astronaut interview process due to a health issue. Employed for over two decades with NASA, Ginger held multiple positions, most notably as the first non-astronaut capsule communicator in 2001 and as a flight director in 2005. She is the first Hispanic female to hold that position.

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Jeannine McHaney is credited with establishing and growing Texas Tech’s women’s athletic program. She began her career at the university in 1965 as an assistant professor in the Department of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation. In 1966 she was appointed the Women’s Intramural Director and given a measly annual budget of $500 to run the program. It was only able to exist due in part to coaches contributing their time for free. In addition, Jeannine served as the volleyball and gymnastics coach. With the enactment of Title IX in 1975, Jeannine was appointed as the first Women’s Athletic Director and, during her 10-year term in that role, she grappled with issues such as inadequate funding and poor facilities for women’s athletic teams. Over the course of her 28 years with TTU, Jeannine was influential in women’s athletics in both the Southwest Athletic Conference and the NCAA. Among her many accolades was being named the 1993 Administrator of the Year by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

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Born in 1949 in San Angelo, Texas, Tina Fuentes knew from a young age that art was her calling. She accordingly channeled her passion, strength, and understanding of the fundamentals of composition, perspective, and color into becoming a nationally recognized multi-media artist. She earned a B.F.A. in 1973 and an M.F.A. in 1975 from North Texas State University. Tina specializes in the areas of painting, drawing, and printmaking. Since 1982 her work has been featured in numerous one-woman and multi-artist exhibitions, as well as a documentary film, El Arte de Tina Fuentes that was broadcast on PBS. She has received several artist-in-residence awards, faculty awards, and research grants, with the most recent being a sizable National Science Foundation collaborative grant with TTU Atmospheric Science Professor Eric Bruning. Tina also shares her love of art with students through a long teaching career that began in 1972 in the Abilene I.S.D. and continues into 2017 at Texas Tech, where she is a tenured professor in the School of Art.

Colonel Margaret M. Henderson, USMC

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March is Women’s History Month, so with that in mind we’re sharing the story of USMC Colonel Margaret Henderson (whose papers we are fortunate to house) and the Marine Corps Women’s Reserve.

Faced with manpower shortages in 1918, Marine Major General Commandant George Barnett asked the Secretary of the Navy’s permission to enlist women for clerical duties. That August, Opha Mae Johnson became the first woman to enlist in the Marines, with 305 eventually joining in 1918 and taking over stateside clerical duties from battle-ready Marines needed overseas. The women were nicknamed “Marinettes.” The vast majority of USMC Headquarters personnel—almost 85% in fact—were women by the end of World War II. The Marine Corps Women’s Reserve was officially established on February 13th, 1943. The MCWR was often referred to as the “Lady Marines.”

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Women held over hundreds of jobs: radio operator, photographer, parachute rigger, driver, aerial gunnery instructor, cook, baker, quartermaster, control tower operator, motion picture operator, auto mechanic, telegraph operator, cryptographer, laundry operator, post exchange manager, stenographer, and agriculturist. Soon they numbered over 800 officers and 17,640 enlisted troops, although by July 1946 only around 1,000 remained in service. Regardless, in 1948 Congress made women a permanent part of the regular Marine Corps, and thousands of active and reserve soldiers served actively in the Korean, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf conflicts.

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Margaret M. Henderson was one such Marine. Born in Cameron, Texas, on February 6, 1911, she received a degree in business administration from the University of Texas in 1932, and taught in Lubbock, Texas, until 1942 at which time she enlisted in the USMC. Her career began as a second lieutenant, and although her service officially ended in 1946 so that she could teach at Texas Technological College (now Texas Tech University), she returned to the Corps in 1948. Ultimately, her time in the Marines spanned 21 years. She reached the pinnacle of her career when she was named the Director of the Women Marines, a post she held from 1959 to 1964.

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If you want to look deeper into Henderson’s papers, our Reference Staff would be happy to help you with that.