Theatre professor retires after more than 50 years at TCU


After more than 50 years, Theatre TCU Professor LaLonnie Lehman retires from TCU at the end of 2021.

Beloved longtime Theatre TCU Professor LaLonnie Lehman retires this month from the university. She has been employed by TCU for 53 years — four years part time and 49 years as a full-time faculty member.

In addition to her storied teaching career, Lehman is a respected costume designer who has designed for more than 300 Theatre TCU productions and worked with virtually all Fort Worth arts organizations, including the Fort Worth Opera and Casa Mañana. She has also designed nationally in Milwaukee, New York, St. Louis, Las Vegas and Ashland, Ore.

Notably, Lehman is the published author of several books, including “High Definition Stage Makeup for the 21st Century,” “Fashion in the Time of The Great Gatsby” and “The Boar’s Head Festival: A Christmas Celebration.” She is a longtime member of the United States Institute for Theater Technology (USITT) and the Costume Society of America.

In an email to Theatre TCU faculty, staff and students earlier this year to announce her retirement, Lehman shared that “the accomplishments of her students, on campus, London and in life, bring her the best rewards of [her career].”

Time at TCU

Lehman began working part-time in the TCU Costume Studio in 1968, under the direction of longtime TCU faculty member Dr. Henry Hammack, who was an accomplished costume designer and technician.

In 1972, Lehman began working at the instructor rank, which expanded her role to include teaching courses such as Costume History, Practical Costuming and Advanced Costuming. At the same time, she launched her career as a costume designer.

In 1975, several technical courses were added to Lehman’s teaching schedule, while she continued to manage the Costume Studio as well as design costumes for all TCU theatre, opera and ballet productions.

During her career, Lehman has been honored for her work and legacy numerous times. She earned the Elston Brooks Lifetime Achievement Award and the Educator of the Year Award from the Live Theatre League of Tarrant County as well as the Oscar G. Brockett Teaching Award and the Founders Award for Outstanding Lifetime Service from the United States Institute for Theatre Technology/Southwest, among others.

Admiration & Appreciation

Professor Harry Parker was a student of Lehman’s in the 1970s. He later became chair of the Department of Theatre—a role he held for almost 20 years—before stepping away to focus on teaching again earlier this year.

“LaLonnie was one of my great professors when I was a theatre student at TCU,” said Parker. “It is remarkable that I’ve also had the opportunity to spend so many years with her as a faculty colleague. She is a unique person with great knowledge and skill, amazing energy and a deep desire to create and inspire. Theatre TCU has benefitted enormously from her vast contributions to students and artistry over the years.”

Theatre TCU chair Jennifer Engler agrees with Parker’s sentiment.

“LaLonnie has contributed enormously to Theatre TCU over the last five decades,” said Engler. “Her breadth of knowledge and skill as a theatre artist has benefitted countless students, alumni, faculty and staff. While we will miss having her vibrant spirit around the halls of Ed Landreth, she will always be a cherished member of the Horned Frog family.”

Recently, Theatre TCU hosted a retirement celebration for Lehman with faculty, staff and former students from near and far on the stage of TCU’s Bushman Theatre, adjacent to the LaLonnie Lehman Lobby, which was dedicated in 2005 to honor Lehman’s legacy.