SOE News

Mary Turner Lane, champion of women students, faculty and staff at Carolina, dies at 90

Photo of Mary Turner Lane

Mary Turner Lane

Associate Professor Emerita Mary Turner Lane, who served on the School of Education faculty for 22 years and later became the first director of the Curriculum in Women's Studies at Carolina, died June 24 in Chapel Hill at age 90.

At the School of Education, Lane taught social studies education for many years and supervised student teachers. She chaired the Elementary Education Program from 1973-75.

She served on the publications board of the National Council for Social Studies, as a staff associate of the Carolina Population Center and as a consultant to the Egyptian Ministry of Education. She also was active in the N.C. Council for Social Studies and the N.C. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

An ardent advocate for women, Lane was a founding member of the Association for Women Faculty and Professionals and the Coalition for Women's Concerns at UNC-Chapel Hill. In 1976, she became the first director of the Curriculum in Women's Studies, a program she had helped to establish. By the time she retired, she had expanded the program to offer an academic major and minor as well as elective courses.

Michael Hooker, who was then Chancellor of UNC-Chapel Hill, said of Lane, "Her tenure coincided with the explosion in women student admissions at Carolina, as well as the growing presence of female faculty. She worked tirelessly to assure the best for both groups."

The Association for Women Faculty and Professionals honored Lane in 1986 with the creation of The Mary Turner Lane Award, presented annually to a woman who has made an outstanding contribution to the lives of women on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Lane was the first recipient of the award.

Commenting on her long-term advocacy for women, she said at that time, "I think this is a wonderful University, and I wanted it to live up to its ideals. To treat women unfairly did not live up to those ideals."

Lane also worked for the rights of other marginalized groups, including African-Americans and Gays and Lesbians.

After her retirement in 1986, she was active in UNC-Chapel Hill's Retired Faculty Association and served as its president.

More recently, Lane was honored by the University for her outstanding leadership and significant contributions to making Carolina a better environment for women. In 1997, she received the University's Cornelia Phillips Spencer Bell Award, named for the woman who rang the bell in South Building to signal the University's reopening after Reconstruction. In 2004, the General Alumni Association presented her with its Faculty Service Award.

Lane earned a Master of Education degree from the School of Education in 1953. She earned her baccalaureate degree from Salem College and her doctoral degree from Duke University.

A service celebrating Lane's life will be held July 25 at 2 p.m. at the Carol Woods Retirement Center in Chapel Hill. You can read The News & Observer obituary and sign a guest book at: News & Observer Obituary