Alumna Paints Tribute to TCU’s First African-American Faculty Member

photo of Melissa Perkins '18 standing next to the portrait

photo courtesy of Melissa Perkins


By Christina Ligi, News and Media Studies major, Class of 2019

Melissa Perkins, a 2018 graduate of the Strategic Communication program, paints tribute to the late Professor Allene Jones.

Perkins initially expressed her talent for digital painting to Dr. Jacqueline Lambiase, professor of Strategic Communication. During her time as a member of ROXO, TCU’s student-run advertising and public relations agency, she created an original portrait of Bob Schieffer.

Dr. Lambiase, a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative, knew that similar portraits would be a great addition to highlight diversity and inclusion, to follow with TCU’s new  DEI initiative, around campus.

TCU’s DEI mission statement is “To build a campus community committed to growth in diversity and inclusion, central to the University’s mission to educate individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community.”

With Perkins’ skill set and a copy of her digital painting, they both began reaching out to several TCU organizations, including the Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences.

Perkins was hired to paint a portrait of the late Allene Jones. Ultimately, this portrait was completed in about three months. Perkins said she used her iPad, Apple pencil and a photo for reference to digitally paint the portrait.

“As an African American woman and alum from TCU, I’m very glad that I was given the opportunity to display another African American woman on TCU’s walls,” says Perkins.

Professor Allene Jones was the first African-American faculty member at TCU. She taught in the Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences from 1968 to 1998. In addition, Jones was among the first three black students admitted to TCU in 1962.

Alongside Perkins, US Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas shared in the unveiling ceremony in March.

The Harris College honored Rep. Johnson at the ceremony with the Allene Jones Trailblazer Award. As alumna of the Harris College, Rep. Johnson was the first nurse elected to Congress in 1993, and today, she chairs the House Science Committee.

Perkins hopes to see more extraordinary people recognized for the ways they contributed to TCU’s campus.

This tribute portrait will remain on display in the Harris College, which is located in the Annie Richardson Bass Building.

portrait of Professor Allene Jones

photo courtesy of Melissa Perkins