Inside TWU is taking a look at the people who shaped Texas Woman’s University in a new series called “Pioneers in TWU History.” There are many who made a mark on the university since its founding more than 120 years ago, and we’ll learn more about them in this occasional series.
Once the Girls Industrial College was established, the new institution needed a leader. Regents selected Cree T. Work as the college’s first president.
Cree Telford Work was presented with a choice upon graduation from Indiana Normal School (now Indiana University of Pennsylvania): Continue his schooling to prepare for mission work in Persia (Iran), all expenses paid; or continue his schooling (at his own expense) to become a teacher.
He chose teaching.
Work became superintendent at DuBois City Schools in Pennsylvania, where he fell in love with Mary Brown, the vice-principal. After two years with the schools, he accepted a teaching position at Colorado Teachers College. He and Mary wed after she resigned her teaching position in Pennsylvania and followed him to Colorado.
While serving in San Francisco schools, Work was recommended to serve as president of a new state college for women in Texas. He began his duties Jan. 1, 1903, and on Jan. 10, he participated in the ceremonial laying of the cornerstone of the first building on campus, now known as Old Main.
As president, Work called for the inclusion of practical education along with intellectual development. He also established a system of committees among faculty to make recommendations on curriculum, classification of students, graduation, literary societies, athletics, housing, and more.
In addition to his duties as president, Work also served on the faculty, teaching psychology and ethics.
In 1910, Work returned to California where he organized the Venice Polytechnic High School, one of the first in that state. W.B. Bizzell, his successor as GIC president, stated that whatever became of the college largely would be due to the foundation laid by Work.
Information for the article is gathered from online searches, Marking A Trail: A History of the Texas Woman’s University, and Marking New Trails: An Informal History of the Texas Woman’s University.