During Dean Crenshaw’s tenure at The University of Alabama, the School of Home Economics grew to include the department of consumer sciences. The School annexed Adams Hall to house the new department, along with portions of the interior design program and the child development program’s infant lab. Under Dean Crenshaw’s leadership, a number of programs received critical accreditations, and the School celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Many CHES alumni remember Dean Crenshaw as an exemplary leader and mentor who inspired others simply by the way she worked and lived. She was dedicated to students and tireless in pursuing what she thought was best for them and in motivating them toward excellence and achievement. She was pragmatic, caring and gracious, and brought an understated elegance to the role of dean. She spoke directly and emphatically, rarely leaving any doubt about what she meant and winning the respect of students, faculty and colleagues across the campus and around the country.
Throughout her life, Dean Crenshaw retained her love for the state of Kentucky, where she was born in 1919. She began her career teaching high school home economics in the Kentucky public schools. After earning her master’s degree, she worked as a nutritionist for the Kentucky State Department of Health in Louisville and then became an associate professor at Murray State University in Murray, Kentucky. When she retired, she returned to her home state and lived there until she died in October 2014.
Here are some of the remembrances posted on the CHES Facebook page after Dean Crenshaw’s death:
“The interview to defend my senior position paper prior to graduation was a game-changer. She made me feel like I could accomplish anything.”
“When I first met her, I was a little scared of her, but I later saw what a good sense of humor she had and how much she cared for all of us students.”
“She modeled leadership in all areas of her life.”
“She was always there with a smile and a word.” “She was so accomplished, yet unpretentious.”
“She was a natural leader, with a way of looking you straight in the eye that made you know you needed to listen.”
“She promoted academic excellence in a firm yet kind way.”
Memorial gifts may be directed to The Mary A. Crenshaw Endowed Research Fund, University of Alabama, attn: Amy Parton, College of Human Environmental Sciences, Box 870158, Tuscaloosa, AL, 35487