STEPHENVILLE (March 13, 2018) – This is the ninth installment in our fall Tarleton State University Faculty Feature series. Once a month The Flash Today will introduce a different faculty or staff member to the community.
Lathes Towns, better known as “Mama T,” is one of the most well-known faces at Tarleton State University. Towns and her love for students can be found at almost any event on campus. From Duck Camp to Transition week, “Mama T” is there.
“How can you not have a passion for what you do when you get to be a part of someone else’s journey and watch them grow?” Towns said.
Towns first came to Tarleton, not as an employee, but as a student after being a stay-at-home mom for 22 years.
“As [Towns’ daughter] Chelsey was registering for college, she had all this paperwork to fill out,” Towns said. “As I was helping her fill out her college application and financial aid forms, it has a box you have to check for parents and their higher education. I noticed every time Bill [Towns’ husband] checked, he checked college and his master’s and he has another master’s. The man had four degrees. I would just check one box. I thought, Well I want to check more boxes. I said, “My baby is going to college, and I want her to know that her parents are smart people.” So, I came back to school.”
Towns earned her degree in exercise and sports studies, which is now kinesiology, in 2005.
“I wanted to teach kids how to play,” Towns said. “I felt like when my girls had friends over, everyone wanted to watch TV. I thought we were losing a generation who didn’t know how to be creative and play.”
After graduating, Tarleton women’s basketball coach offered Towns the job of graduate assistant to the women’s basketball team. But, to be eligible for the job, Towns had to work on her master’s degree.
“At the time, Tarleton had the education administration program, and I said, “That’s what I will do. I might be a principal one day,” Towns said.
After earning her master’s degree, Towns led the office of parent relations and then became the director of Transition and Family relations. Each program Towns restructured and grew into what they are today.
“We rebuilt the first year experience program,” Towns said. “We got to really transform how freshmen entered school.”
Last July, Towns began leading the new Student Involvement, Traditions, Spirit and Family Relations department. Towns oversees building relationships with students’ families, teaching students about tradition, overseeing the transition process to Tarleton and more.
“We want the students to be successful outside the classroom,” Towns said. “This is the first time that a 17- or 18-year-old has left the comfort of the gates that their family has built for them, and you want to them to come to your campus and understand the new ramifications they are entering and to be successful. To do that you have to equip the whole body.”
Towns is married to Bill Towns, a retired Dublin ISD teacher. She has two daughters, Chelsey Towns Sokoloff and Tara Towns.
“My daughter Tara, at Christmas this year, pulled out the family videos, and said they were just my little playmates,” Towns said. “Now, I have 9,000 playmates, and I am having so much fun. Once you get into the fabric of Tarleton, you bleed purple forever.”