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Dr. Carolyn Kneese

Carolyn Calvin Kneese was born in Austin, spent many years in Dallas and now resides in Houston. Inspired by her mother’s decades of teaching on four continents, she became a lifelong educator, with a bachelor of arts from University of Texas, a master of arts from Houston Baptist University and a doctorate from the University of Houston in Educational Leadership and Cultural Studies.

Carolyn is a retired Associate Professional of Educational Administration at Texas A&M University- Commerce. She has been a longtime advocate of Baylor College of Medicine and for many years served on its Partnership Board. She also worked as a researcher and translator for Dr. Michael DeBakey at Methodist Hospital. She has published four books and numerous articles in her academic career on topics as diverse as violence in the schools, at-risk children and advantages of a year round school calendar. “Highways to the World” is her first biography/memoir and her most recent book is entitled “Bragging Rights: The Dallas-Houston Rivalry.” The two educational books are entitled “School Calendar Reform” and “Balancing the School Calendar”.

From one golden age of Texas highways to another, including the construction of the atomic bomb in the secret city of Oak Ridge, Tn., the lives of Carolyn Calvin Kneese’s parents moved to the dangerous rhythms of the 20th century. As a child, Carolyn knew little of the engineering work her father did: not until the declassification of Cold War information did she fully understand the globe-changing political purposes of his projects in trouble spots like Egypt, Honduras, Iran and Indochina. Then with only faded photographs and letters to guide her, she began to seek a deeper understanding of her parents’ lives.

“Highways to the World” is one daughter’s personal journey into history. She creates striking portraits of events: from small town Texas childhood to cadet life at Texas A&M after World War I, from the WPA-driven renaissance of Texas roads and bridges to the later explosion of interstates in the 1950’s. She shares how her father’s engineering expertise linked her childhood directly to history: During the Suez Crisis of 1956 the family had to be rescued by the U.S. Navy; and in later overseas “aid” assignments, her father’s work paved the way for the anti-communist foreign policy of Harry Truman and Gerald Ford. Like all parents, Elmer Ben Calvin and Agnes Standlee faced choices. And like all parents, they made those choices with only a vague awareness of how their decisions would form the next generation. With a detective’s eye and a daughter’s heart, Carolyn searches snapshots from their century to answer the inevitable question of grown children: Who were these people who made me who I am? In the process, she discovers what the choices of her parents’ generation mean for all of us.

Why I chose to establish a scholarship in their names? Because I was so very grateful for a tenured track position at Texas A&M University-Commerce where my father had a scholarship and in education where my mother excelled.

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