Tarleton awards honorary doctorates to Lamar and Marilynn Johanson

TSU Newsroom

STEPHENVILLE — Longtime public educators Lamar and Marilynn T. Johanson each received an honorary doctorate of humane letters Saturday during Tarleton State University’s fall 2021 commencement ceremonies. The couple have put their heart and soul into public education for more than six decades.

Dr. Lamar Johanson’s 40 years at Tarleton started in 1961 as an instructor in the Department of Biological Sciences, the same year Dr. Marilynn Johanson was hired to teach vocational home economics at Hico High School.

Lamar and Marilynn T. Johanson each received an honorary doctorate of humane letters today during Tarleton State University’s fall 2021 commencement ceremonies. From left: Dr. Karen Murray, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs; Drs. Lamar and Marilynn T. Johanson; and Dr. James Hurley, Tarleton State University President.

Officially retired, the two continue their association with Tarleton, attending and volunteering at academic and athletic events. Both received the All-Purple Award, recognizing those who vigorously support Texan athletics. Dr. Lamar Johanson has been on the Texan Club board of directors since its inception in 1994 and continues to chair the Tarleton Athletics Hall of Fame nominating committee.

“Honorary doctorates come from the heart of an institution, and today’s confirmation is a heart-felt thank you for all that Lamar and Marilynn Johanson have done and continue to do for our institution,” said President James Hurley. “Their life’s work is an example of the spirit Tarleton Texans embody and is a model for all of us to follow.”

Dr. Lamar Johanson served 18 years as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and was the inaugural Executive Director of Tarleton University System Center-Central Texas in Killeen (now Texas A&M University-Central Texas) before he retired in 2001. The Texas A&M University System recognized his outstanding leadership that year by confirming him as Dean Emeritus, College of Arts and Sciences, and Professor of Biological Sciences.

He was president of the Texas Academy of Sciences and the Texas Association of Deans of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Chairman of the National Conference of Academic Deans.

He spearheaded efforts to establish associate and baccalaureate degree programs in nursing and the medical laboratory sciences program in the core of downtown Fort Worth’s Medical District. He advocated for constructing and helped design Tarleton’s science building, which now bears his name.

“Tarleton State University and education have been integral parts of our lives, providing us with many eventful and unique opportunities,” he said. “We are blessed to have been able to give back in a small way to the university. These honorary doctorate degrees are deeply appreciated and serve as a capstone to our careers.”

In addition to teaching in Hico, Dr. Marilynn Johanson’s career included a stint at Stephenville High School. A Distinguished Tarleton Alumna (2015), she served as an education specialist with the Texas Education Agency and as an elementary school and high school principal in the Strawn and Goldthwaite independent school districts. She retired in 1995 with more than three decades of service to Texas public schools.

She served as President of the Texas Vocational Homemaking Teachers Association and Texas Vocational Teachers Association, and Vice President of the Region IV American Vocational Association, which named her Outstanding Classroom Teacher of the Year.

The Johansons have worked with the university to establish the Timberlake Biological Field Station, which covers about 800 acres in Mills County, advancing environmental research, engaging students in scientific discovery and promoting stewardship of the natural world. Most recently they created the Timberlake Biological Field Station Research Support Endowment and the Lamar and Marilynn T. Johanson Biological Sciences Scholarship Endowment.

In 2012 they conveyed their ranch of approximately 1,700 acres, with all mineral rights, in Mills and San Saba counties to The Texas A&M University System for the benefit of Tarleton, while retaining the right to live on the property.

The couple received Tarleton’s 2020 Legacy Award for Leadership.