The Joy of Female Leadership

By Avery Craig
Photos Courtesy of Trish Joyner

Female leadership is an ever-evolving aspect at Texas Tech University, an aspect which countless people have been privileged to take part in. Trish Joyner, one of many such individuals, said her fondest memories of Lubbock took place while helping influence the role of women at Texas Tech.

In 1973, and in the middle of her junior year, Joyner transferred to Texas Tech from The University of Arkansas. At the time, Texas Tech and The University of Texas were the only two colleges in Texas with accredited journalism programs. Joyner's sister was already attending Texas Tech, which made Joyner’s decision to pursue her education at Texas Tech a little easier.

As an upperclassman who only knew about five people at her new school, she tried to make the most of her move by getting involved with various activities. Joyner was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha and enjoyed watching the Texas Tech football and basketball games, but a great deal of her time was spent helping Bill Allen with his campaign to be elected as Student Government Association president

After Allen won the election, his campaign supporters, including Joyner, continued to help him with school projects. Instead of just focusing exclusively on things to do within the campus, they extended their work to the state level and reached out to a fresh political face.

Allen and his supporters approached a new political figure, Kent Hance. Today, Hance is the chancellor of Texas Tech, but his history with the college stretches far beyond his present duties.

In 1974, Hance was a Texas Tech business law professor who decided to run for the Texas senate. His popularity was high among the student body. He won the election, and once he was officially in office, the same students who supported him, including Joyner, had a request for him. They wanted Hance to help put a female on the Texas Tech Board of Regents.

The role of women in the 70s was different from the role of women today. Joyner said she remembers how limited the number of female leaders were when she was younger.

She said not many women were highly visible in a lot of professions, boards and corporations while she was growing up. When they were seen holding a high position, Joyner said, it meant they were something special. She believes those women were people to be admired because getting there was likely not easy.

Joyner said she saw the limited visibility of female leadership roles when she was younger, and many other members of her group likely grew up seeing the same limitations. Despite this, Joyner said Hance was willing to listen to the group. Hance knew female leadership was important.

"Trish Joyner and I were on the cutting edge of getting more women involved in leadership roles," Hance said.

Eventually their hard work paid off. Since 1974, seven women have served on the Texas Tech Board of Regents and two women have served as student regents.

Despite the long-term impact they made, it took a while for Hance, Joyner, Allen and the other students to see clear results. In fact, Joyner said the biggest noticeable change didn't happen until she left Texas Tech. In 1991, Joyner said, not only was a new woman appointed to the Texas Tech Board of Regents, it was Elizabeth "Cissy" Ward, a friend of hers.

"That was how we knew the whole effort came full-circle,” Trish said. "Not only were there women, but I ended up knowing, and was friends with, someone that was appointed."

As the owner of FerrisWheel LLC, a company that does public relations work, Joyner understands the importance of female leadership roles, and she acknowledges that her time at Texas Tech helped her understand what it takes to get there.

When she decided to attend Texas Tech, she said the new environment could have caused her to curl up in a ball and just study all day, but instead, Joyner said she went beyond the books and learned the importance of being responsible for her own experiences, taking risks, and putting herself out there.

Today, when Joyner looks back at her professional career, she said a good sense of humor helped her get through. She still helps with her company but is mostly retired. When it comes to her down time, Joyner loves playing and watching golf with her husband, Bill.

Now that Joyner is winding down her professional career, the qualities she learned from her time at Texas Tech are still apparent to those around her.

Bill Joyner said he can see these characteristics, not only in his wife's leadership, but also in her relationships with those that surround her.

"She has improved many peoples' lives through her genuine caring of helping people," he said. "Trish has certainly improved my life by helping me understand that life is multidimensional and that we should all enjoy each aspect of our lives."

Avery Craig is a junior public relations major from Houston.