Dr. Gladys Gregory – Texas Western’s First Female “Full Professor”

By on June 29, 2012

Gladys Gregory’s photograph from the Texas State College of Mines and Metallurgy’s 1936 Flowsheet.

Dr. Gladys Gregory, a long-time faculty member at the Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy and later Texas Western College (now UTEP), became the first woman at the institution to reach the rank of full professor. In 1951, she became a professor in the school’s political science department. This was no easy task, considering that she had taught classes and been a “faculty member” in the Political Science Department for twenty-three years before finally being given a professor status. The August 21, 1951, Prospector described Dr. Gregory’s achievement. The article mentioned that Texas Western College president Wilson Homer Elkins announced the “promotion” of the political science faculty member “to the rank of full professor.” Born in San Angelo, Texas, Gregory went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of San Antonio, a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southwestern University, and the Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the University of Texas in 1937. Her dissertation from UT was titled: El Chamizal: A Boundary Problem between the United States and Mexico.

During Gladys Gregory’s thirty-four years of teaching at the university the institution changed its name three times and had ten different presidents. She was also active with the El Paso chapter of the Zeta Tau Alpha International Women’s Fraternity and Gregory sponsored the group from 1939-1965. A scholarship fund called the Dr. Gladys Gregory/ Zeta Tau Alpha Endowed Scholarship Fund was named in her honor and service. Additionally, Gregory served on a local committee studying the Chamizal area, frequently writing reports on the topic. While residing in the city of El Paso for over fifty years, she was a member of other local groups such as the Woman’s Club of El Paso, the El Paso Orchid Society, and the Kern Place Garden Club which she was president of in the early 1970s. She retired from the University of Texas at El Paso’s Political Science Department in May of 1962. Dr. Gladys Gregory was an important individual not only in the college and university setting, but also to the El Paso community up until her passing in 1977.

Dr. Gregory on campus, ca. early 1960s.

[Sources: The Prospector, August 21, 1951, and May 12, 1962; El Paso Herald Post, February 17, 1971; and Nancy Hamilton, UTEP: A Pictorial History of the University of Texas at El Paso (El Paso, TX: Texas Western Press, 1988.)]

Bryan Winter is an assistant in the C.L. Sonnichsen Special Collections Department of the UTEP Library. He earned a BS in Geography from New Mexico State University, and is currently in his final year as an MA student in History at UTEP.