A Guide to the Lorene Rogers Papers, [ca. 1938 (1974-1979) 1986].
Lorene Lane Rogers (1914-2009), biochemist, professor, administrator, and former president of the University of Texas, was born in Prosper, Texas, on April 3, 1914. She studied English at North Texas State Teachers College, where she met her husband Burl Rogers, a biochemist. The couple moved to New Jersey when Burl got a job with a chemical company. However, in 1941, an explosion in the laboratory killed Burl.
Inspired by her late husband’s interest, Rogers pursued a master’s degree in organic chemistry and a doctorate in biochemistry at the University of Texas, enrolling in 1942 and graduating in 1946. After teaching chemistry at Sam Houston State University for two years (1947-1949), Rogers returned to UT in 1949 as a researcher at the Clayton Foundation Biochemical Institute. She was promoted to assistant director of the Institute in 1957. In 1962, she applied for a professorship in the chemistry department, but the department rejected her application due to her gender. Instead, Rogers obtained a position as a nutrition professor in the department of home economics. From 1962 until 1964, when she was appointed Associate Graduate Dean, Rogers worked half time in the department of home economics and half time at the Clayton Foundation.
Rogers, the first woman to hold the position of Associate Graduate Dean, resigned as associate dean in 1971 and attempted to take a leave of absence to conduct research before returning to teaching. However, the new University president, Stephen Spurr, proffered Rogers a vice-presidency, and she accepted. As a vice president Rogers notably strove for equality for women and even wrote UT’s affirmative action program.
After the firing of Stephen Spurr in August of 1974, Rogers was named ad interim president, and permanent president in 1975. Rogers’ appointment as president was highly controversial, due to the marginalization of a faculty-student committee, which had rejected Rogers. Faculty members and students held mass protests calling for Rogers’ resignation, claiming that the regents had denied them a say in the appointment process.
Despite this controversy, Rogers presided over a period of progress and prosperity at the University of Texas. During her tenure, Earl Campbell won the Heisman Trophy, Ilya Prigogine received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry, black enrollment rose from 200 to over 1,000, and Latino enrollment doubled. She brought many eminent scientists to UT, such as physicist John Wheeler, biochemist Esmond Snell, and botanist Richard Starr. In addition to her work with the sciences, Rogers presided over the creation of the College of Liberal Arts and the implementation of the National Merit Scholarship Program. Furthermore, as the first female president of a major research university, Rogers worked for higher pay for women. Late in her term as president, eight faculty members filed suit against Rogers, claiming they were denied raises in retaliation for their criticism of her administration. Only one of the eight won their case, history professor Philip White.
In August 1979, Rogers retired as president of UT. Following her term, Rogers served on several boards, both academic and industrial, such as for Texaco Inc., Texas Bank, and Gulf State Utilities. Rogers passed away in January 2009, in Dallas, at the age of 94.
Source: "Rogers, Lorene Lane," Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
Correspondence, speeches, photographs, printed materials, clippings, and audiovisual material comprise the Lorene Rogers Papers, [ca. 1938 (1974-1979) 1986], which document Rogers’ career at the University of Texas as a researcher, professor, administrator, vice-president, and president. The papers contain letters of congratulation on her appointment to the presidency from 1975, as well as personal correspondence from 1975 to 1979. Furthermore, the papers include many files concerning her involvement with conferences, boards, and professional organizations, such as her files relating to her work with the Graduate Record Examination Board. The collection also documents her work on the panel reviewing military academies in 1974. In addition to material pertaining to her presidency, the collection contains her diploma from UT, her late husband’s thesis, and the theses of her graduate students over the years. The photographs in the collection document her tenure as president, including events such as Earl Campbell’s Heisman trophy presentation, UT Alumni banquet, the Gutenberg bible presentation, and the presentation of the 7 millionth book to the University Libraries.
This collection is open for research.
A portion of these papers is stored remotely. Advance notice required for retrieval. Contact repository for retrieval.
Lorene Rogers Papers, [ca. 1938 (1974-1979) 1986], Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.
This collection was processed by Ralph Elder, July 2005. Subsequent revisions were made by Megan Mummey, July 2010
Basic processing and cataloging of this collection was supported with funds from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for the Briscoe Center’s "History Revealed: Bringing Collections to Light" project, 2009-2011.
Detailed Description of the Papers