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Published: November 07, 2019

UT Alumnus Announces Endowed Chair in Psychology in Honor of His Late Wife, a Fellow Alum

Janet and Lee Matthews met as freshmen at The University of Tampa in 1962, were 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 who passed away last March, have established the Janet R. Matthews Ph.D. Endowed Chair of Psychology.

David Stern, UT provost, said that this creation of an endowed chair in psychology is a “wonderful addition to one of our strongest and most popular programs.”

The endowed chair is the first in UT’s history to be named after a UT alumna or alumnus, and the first endowed chair outside the Sykes College of Business, which has two. 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. The University will conduct a national search in the 2020-2021 academic year for the position to begin in Fall 2021.

“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,” Lee 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.”

David Stern, UT provost, said that this 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.

Lee Matthews graduated from UT in 1967, a year after Janet graduated from UT. Both received master’s degrees from Trinity University (TX) and doctorates from the University of Mississippi.

Janet was a university professor at two other prestigious universities. Thirty-five of her former undergraduate students went on to receive doctoral degrees, and one student became a future president of the American Psychological Association (APA). She served on more than 50 different boards, committees and task forces for the APA, including membership on its Board of Directors. Upon her passing, Janet was still on an advisory board of a nonprofit foundation that provides grief group resources to the community.

Lee’s career focused on the practice of clinical psychology. He was co-owner, with Janet, of Psychological Resources in Kenner, LA, and was adjunct faculty at the LSU Health Science Center and at Tulane Medical Center in New Orleans. In addition he is a consultant to Children’s Hospital New Orleans and South Louisiana Medical Associates at Leonard J. Chabert Medical Center in Houma, LA. He has also had positions with the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and DePaul Hospital/Tulane Medical Center.

“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.

“We hope this gift will inspire others,” he 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.

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.

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