Endowed Chair of Psychology Established at University of Tampa Honoring Dr. Janet Matthews

In November, Dr. David Stern, University of Tampa Provost, announced the creation of the Janet R. Matthews Endowed Chair of Psychology, established by Dr. Lee Matthews, honoring his wife, Janet, who passed away in March.

According to the official announcement, the endowed chair is the first in the University’s history to be named after a UT alumna or alumnus, and the first endowed chair outside the Sykes College of Business. The endowment will be used to support a new faculty chair position in the Department of Psychology, within UT’s College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education.

Dr. Stern said that the creation of an endowed chair in psychology is a “wonderful addition to one of our strongest and most popular programs.”

“It will enable us to recruit an accomplished teacher-scholar whose work will enhance our reputation, attract students who want the opportunity to study and collaborate in research with the chair holder and will be a fitting honor for two of our alumni who have had nationally renowned careers in psychology,” Stern said.

The honor commemorates Janet and Lee Matthews meeting as freshmen at The University of Tampa (UT) in 1962, where they married as undergraduates and went on to become established and renowned clinical and academic psychologists. More than 55 years after meeting, Janet and Lee had planned to make a significant gift to UT and, in honor of Janet, established the Endowed Chair, said Stern.

Jack Geller, dean of the College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education, said the gift will substantively impact both faculty and our students in psychology.

“The Janet R. Matthews Ph.D. Endowed Chair of Psychology, along with the associated Drs. Janet and Lee Matthews Psychology Student Award, is by far the most comprehensive gift to date in the College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education,” Geller said.

In recognition of the gift, UT has also established the Drs. Janet and Lee Matthews Psychology Award, which will be given annually to an outstanding rising senior psychology major.   “Endowed chairs are among the most generous and critical gifts in higher education and support academic excellence,” said Ronald Vaughn, UT president. “And having it named after two esteemed psychologists brings prestige to the University and will certainly help us attract outstanding faculty.

Dr. Lee Matthews spoke at the ceremony. “This gift is to honor all of our former professors at The University of Tampa, who not only encouraged us, but set an example of the meaning of what it was to be an undergraduate teacher and mentor,” Dr. Matthews said. “And, the ‘non-academic lessons’ that Janet and I obtained such as supporting the local community, building
relationships and supporting future generations were all values that we learned at The University of Tampa.”

“Janet’s experience at UT resulted in her becoming a mentor to generations of undergraduate students,” Matthews said. “After 35 years of teaching, more than 37 of her former undergraduates had doctoral degrees in psychology, and at the time she became Emerita Professor, there were another 19 former students in doctoral programs. In addition, around 25 of her former students obtained other graduate degrees, in counseling, psychology, and social work.”

“Janet’s vision for the endowed psychology chair was so that future generations of UT students would have the same opportunities to be encouraged and mentored to pursue further education in psychology and/or related fields as was provided to us by our former professors,” he said. “It was not only academically, but the ‘nonacademic lessons’ we obtained such as volunteer involvement in the local community, a sense of responsibility, a ‘can I help you’ attitude, building relationships, and supporting future generations. I hope you can see that these were all values that we learned at the University of Tampa and still exist to this day in the current students and why we are donors.”

Dr. Janet Matthews, “cherished and esteemed” colleague to many in the psychology community, died March 31, 2019, in Metairie, Louisiana, after a struggle with cancer. The outstanding service and accomplishments of her life left an “indelible mark on her colleagues, her students, her profession, and her community,” said a message from the Louisiana Psychological Association upon her passing.

Dr. Matthews was a clinical and neuropsychologist, and held the diplomat in clinical from the American Board of Professional Psychology. She served as Full Professor at Loyola University, served on the Board of Directors of the American Psychological Association, and was named Distinguished Psychologist by the Louisiana Psychological Association, among many other achievements.

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