B. LaConyea Butler, Ph.D.: Another True Blue Spirit
In the fall of 1959, Spelman only had approximately 500 students according to LaConyea Butler, C’56.
“It was a wonderful experience to return to my alma mater and to the Spelman family,” said Butler, who is the second longest-standing faculty member at Spelman. “Interestingly, some of the first students I taught as seniors were freshmen when I graduated in 1956.”
Butler, who received her master’s in psychology from Boston University and her doctorate from Atlanta University, came to Spelman to teach at the request of her mentor and teacher.
“After receiving my master’s degree from Boston University, I taught for two years at Bennett,” said Butler, who along with Farris, has worked under five Spelman presidents. “During my second year there, Dr. O.W. Eagleson, who was dean of instruction and chair of the Department of Psychology and Education, wrote to ask if I would be interested in returning to Spelman as a faculty member.”
For the past 55 years, the Department of Psychology has built on a foundation in which Butler serves as a cornerstone. She said she has been involved in many of Spelman’s signature programs, including the College Honors Program Women’s Studies and the Women’s Center, the Assessment Program, Counseling Services and the Faculty Governance system.
“In her role as chair, she established the Psychology Honors sequence, a two-year research training program for students that is comparable to writing a master's thesis,” said Myra Burnett, Ph.D., vice provost of the College, who was hired by Butler for a faculty position in 1985. “Because of her foresight in designing such a program back in the 1980s, we have had dozens of psychology graduates to obtain master’s and doctorate degrees in psychology. She always pushed students to perform at their very best and encouraged other faculty to do the same.”
Butler, like her dear friend Farris, said she felt it was time to move on, citing she has books to read, a family genealogy to complete, and other family projects with her children and grandchildren.
“Dr. Butler has been our rock, always a steady role model, always keeping us grounded in our history even as we grow and change, always showing us what it means to be a 'true blue' faculty member,” said Karen Brake, Ph.D., associate professor and chair in the Department of Psychology. “This will truly be the end of an era, but she has left a great legacy in the Department of Psychology and we will proudly carry that forward.”