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Celebrating more than 60 years of service to OSU

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Media Contact: Kirsi McDowell | Senior Communications Specialist | 405-744-9347 |

Two College of Education and Human Sciences professors are retiring after over a combined six decades at Oklahoma State University. Drs. Laura Hubbs-Tait and Shiretta Ownbey have seen the college change many times in their tenure and have taught hundreds of students in their respective departments.

Dr. Laura Hubbs-TaitDr. Laura Hubbs-Tait

Hubbs-Tait served as a regents professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science for 31 years.

During her tenure, she remained steadfast in her commitment to teaching students and furthering research in the field she was most passionate about.

Originally from Austin, Texas, Hubbs-Tait was inspired by her parents. While her father influenced her love of science through his career as an ichthyologist, her mother inspired her through her work as a psychologist.

“I breathed my mother’s passion for children in need,” Hubbs-Tait said. “The combination of my parents’ interests led me to focus on developmental and child psychology.”

Thanks to the foundation and inspiration Hubbs-Tait’s parents instilled in her, she pursued her passion at the University of Michigan and completed a Bachelor of Arts in psychology. She continued her education at Boston University where she earned her master’s degree and Ph.D. in psychology.

Throughout her education, she was mentored by influential faculty members who eventually led her to take a position at OSU in 1992.

During the three decades Hubbs-Tait served OSU, she found her greatest love was helping students through mentorship and encouragement. She also enjoyed working with colleagues on research she found important. In 2018, she received the Society for Research in Human Development Outstanding Mentor Award for her outstanding efforts in helping those around her.

As she prepares for retirement, Hubbs-Tait looks forward to spending time with family and serving as a volunteer to help those in need.

“Students and faculty of the OSU College of Education and Human Sciences are lucky to have worked with and learned from Dr. Hubbs-Tait,” CEHS Dean Jon Pedersen said. “She has put her mark on the college through her kindness, mentorship and passion for helping people.”

Dr. Shiretta OwnbeyDr. Shiretta Ownbey

Ownbey wraps up 30 years serving CEHS as professor, faculty fellow and administrator. Her service touched many aspects of the college from student success, recruitment and the advancement and promotion of human sciences.

A Texas native, Ownbey’s career started as a county extension educator and public school teacher. After a few years in the field, she decided to finish her education while continuing to work full time. In 1991, she completed a Ph.D. in clothing, textiles and merchandising at Texas Tech University.

Shortly after, Ownbey was hired at OSU as an assistant professor where she remained for the rest of her career. As a design and merchandising faculty member, she helped increase enrollment and greatly impacted student success in the college.

Within just a decade of service, Ownbey was promoted to associate dean where she strategized ways to increase student retention rates. Through her research, she discovered better methods to serve students’ needs and created the first student success center for the college and university.

As a result of the new initiative, the college’s retention rates strengthened. This groundbreaking success led to other colleges across campus following in pursuit.

“It simply takes someone — some college, some department — to step out, to provide an example, to base decisions on past research and make a change,” Ownbey said.

From helping relaunch a new degree within family and consumer sciences education to creating scholarship funds, Ownbey continued to make an impact in her beloved college.

It comes as no surprise that Ownbey received many awards throughout her tenure. A few accolades include the Ellen Swallow Richards Public Service Award, Academic Advisor Award from OSU and Regents Distinguished Teaching Award.

“The OSU College of Education and Human Sciences wouldn’t be the leading academic destination for human sciences without the contributions of Dr. Shiretta Ownbey,” Dr. Pedersen said. “We are thankful for the innovative touch she has put on our college.”

Photos By: Todd Johnson and John Johnson

Story By: Kirsi McDowell ASPIRE Magazine

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