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Summertime and the Living is Easy

Summertime and the Living is Easy

By Donna Parker 

Sandra Ragan, who received a bachelor's degree in English from Trinity in 1971, has fulfilled a lot in her active life. After receiving a Ph.D. in speech communication from UT, she is professor emerita of the department of communication at the University of Oklahoma. Nowadays, she quite simply loves life in her Hill Country home.

"I loved the teaching and writing, but was ready to retire," Sandy says.

Actually, retired is a bit of a misnomer, as this busy lady is still writing social science books in health communication, one of which will be published this summer. She's working on a third and is delighted that her co-authors are former doctoral students whom she describes as "ambitious and energetic."

Ragan also recently spoke at Fairfield University in Connecticut on her 30-year field of study and expertise, "Communication as Comfort: Multiple Voices in Palliative Care"-also the title of her 2008 book.

"This is really the best period of my adult life. In addition to the writing, I'm a docent at the McNay Art Museum, chairman of the docent continuing education committee, volunteer at the Cancer Therapy Research Center, and member of the Parish Choir at St. Mark's Episcopal Church!" smiles Sandy.

"There are so many things I'm free to do rather than go to meetings every day."

"This is such a joy for me to be free to read and relax. I'm privileged. I feel like everything I'm doing is fun and no longer divide my time into professional and avocation, as I used to do when I was working full time. Besides, retirement was a long thought out decision for me."

Sandy was active in campus leadership during her days as a Trinity student. She says Trinity was absolutely the right place for her with an ultra-observant faculty that encouraged students' abilities.

"My only complaint is that there weren't enough women teaching courses, but that was a definite sign of the times back then. Of course, there was Coleen Grissom, department of English, who always thought I had a bright future and noticed my abilities and also Jean Chittenden who taught Spanish and was Chi Beta sponsor. Others, such as David Middleton, department of English, and Roger McShane and Jim Mannock, department of history, opened doors for me in my thinking."

This retired professor still gets together with her Chi Beta pledge sisters-good friends she made those many years ago. She's been single for 12 years and also enjoys spending time with her stepchildren.

Sandy names mentoring graduate students as her proudest achievement, some of whom are "more successful in publishing and receiving grant dollars than I."

"It was a great pleasure to be pivotal in their lives and I hope I served the role that Trinity teachers served for me-being that catalyst in opening doors for them and exercising their minds in new ways."

So, when you picture Sandy, know that she is content sitting in her living room looking at the old oak tree filled with different birds, sheltered by several acres from her nearest neighbor and constantly grateful to be so blessed.

You may contact Sandra Ragan at sragan [at]