An esteemed UNT faculty member discusses her commitment to giving back

Dr. Jan Holden has a long history of supporting UNT students in need.

Dr. Jan Holden has a long history of supporting UNT students in need.

Meet Janice M. Holden, a UNT Counseling Program faculty member and longtime donor. We spoke with Dr. Holden about how it felt to receive the 2019 UNT Foundation Eminent Faculty Award and why she chooses to support her students through giving.

Congratulations on receiving the 2019 UNT Foundation Eminent Faculty Award, one of the highest faculty achievements at UNT! What does this particular honor mean to you?

Thank you! I am still rather shocked. When I think of our very accomplished faculty, I truly believe that others deserve this award more than I do. However, I am still accepting it! To me, this honor once again affirms the themes of creativity and caring at UNT: that sustained, conscientious work is recognized — even when that work includes a unique field of research like transpersonal counseling.

During the 2019 We Care We Count Faculty and Staff Giving Campaign, you made a substantial donation to the Counseling and Higher Education Excellence Fund. Because this contribution was made shortly after you won the Eminent Faculty Award, we’re curious if there was a connection between receiving the $15,000 award and making this gift.

Yes, there was a connection! The night after I received the award, I couldn’t sleep. I knew I wanted to give back at least some of the award money to UNT, but at first I couldn’t figure out how. Eventually, I thought about how our Counseling Program doctoral students who are graduate assistants during the 9-month school year scramble to find employment during the summer. I talked with my department chair, Natalya Lindo, and we agreed that I would donate to the department the amount needed to hire two doctoral students. The students would be employed, and I would have help tying up some incomplete research and service projects. It worked out perfectly, as the amount was about half of what was left after taxes. So, half to UNT doctoral students, and half for me. It was a win for everyone.

This wasn’t your first gift, of course. Can you share a bit about your reasons for establishing the Jan Holden Transpersonal Counseling Scholarship?

I wanted to encourage budding scholars to conduct research in the field of transpersonal counseling. I’m very gratified that a few Counseling Program doctoral students have completed their dissertations in this topic area and received financial support for their work. Some of these students have gone on to become counselor educators and to continue transpersonal research.

You have a long, admirable history of giving to UNT. What have been your primary motivations for giving back?

It’s hard to be in higher education and remain impervious to the financial need, indeed, the hardship, of current students. I’ve been financially fortunate, and I wanted to use some of that “fortune” to support students in need. It has been a privilege to be a faculty member at UNT, my professional home for more than three decades. UNT’s Counseling Program is recognized as one of the best in the U.S. and the best in Texas. Our students are very deserving of support.

Dr. Holden is a Texas Licensed Professional Counselor-Supervisor, a National Certified Counselor, and an American Center for the Integration of Spiritually Transformative Experiences (ACISTE) Certified Mental Health Professional. She has received numerous awards for her research and advocacy, including the Association for Spiritual, Ethical, and Religious Values in Counseling’s 2013 Research Award and the American Counseling Association’s 2015 Gilbert and Kathleen Wrenn Award for a Humanitarian and Caring Person.

When she retires from UNT at the end of August 2019, she plans to continue her work on a service project for the College of Education’s Counseling Program, adjunct the transpersonal perspective in counseling class, and teach courses for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNT. She hopes to one day find a donor to fund a “Center for the Study of Transpersonal Experience Surrounding Death” at UNT to deepen the research on these phenomena and the field of transpersonal counseling.

If you’re inspired by Dr. Holden’s commitment to giving back, consider making a gift in support of UNT’s College of Education or the Jan Holden Transpersonal Counseling Scholarship.