Texas Tech University

The Department of Human Development and Family Sciences Honors Alumna Cat Pausé

Page Heisser

May 9, 2022

Cat Pausé

Caitlin "Cat" Pausé Memorial

The College of Human Sciences lost a beloved alumna and former faculty member, Caitlin “Cat” Pausé, a 2007 graduate of the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences (HDFS), on March 22, 2022, at the age of 42. 

Pausé obtained her B.A. in 1999, her M.A. from Texas Tech in 2002, and her Ph.D., also from Texas Tech, in 2007. Pausé's doctoral work was done under Gwendolyn T. Sorell, Ph.D., and her dissertation explored weight identity in morbidly obese women.

Pausé left Texas Tech in 2008 to take a senior lecturer position at Massey University in New Zealand, where she served as faculty and fat activist until her death. Her work has appeared in multiple scholarly journals, as well as online in The Huffington Post. She was also known for her radio show and podcast Friend of Marilyn. Pausé's work focused on the wellbeing of overweight people and the effects of discrimination on their health.

Professor Alan Reifman, PhD., shared his memories of Pausé.

“What I and other faculty colleagues remember about Cat is her passion, commitment, and enthusiasm for the department and her field of study. Cat really wanted to learn about women's identity development within their life contexts, and she immersed herself in the relevant theories. She struck me as being a leader among the students.”

Suzanne Tapp, Executive Director of the Teaching, Learning, and Professional Development Center (TLPDC) and long-time friend of Pausé commented on the impact she made as a graduate student and graduate part-time instructor at Texas Tech.

“In 2005-2006 during her doctoral studies, she was recognized as a fellow in the TEACH Program, considered to be a significant honor.  I had the opportunity to work with her as she created a project that examined first impressions and the role of an instructor's body size to consider whether student perceptions of instructors' size affected their initial evaluations of their teaching ability. It was provocative and engaging. In the classroom, she held the interest of her class with her enthusiasm, charisma, and passion. She pushed us to think about how body size is privileged and asked us to examine how our society prioritizes thinness. We remain proud of her and thankful for her friendship.”

Lauded by her colleagues and friends in New Zealand as “brave, compassionate, friendly, and so very clever,” Pausé will be terribly missed.