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Saturday, December 2, 2023


Honors college ‘grandma’ dies

A ‘spicy grandmotherly figure’, Tanya Erica Lunstroth, died of cancer Aug. 25. The longtime companion to the Honors College was 79 years old.

Her involvement with UH contributed to the Honors College and its community.

‘She was an unconventional thinker,’ Honors College Dean William Monroe said. ‘We’re not a stuffy group of people, and one of the reasons we’re not is because of Tanya Lunstroth.’

Lunsthroth warmed colleagues and students with her sense of humor.

‘There certainly are academic institutions that take themselves way too seriously,’ Monroe said. ‘Tanya never let us do that. She made sure that we knew who we were.

Just because we were honors students, faculty, or Ph.D, M.D., or whatever kind of ‘D’ did not mean that we were any better than anyone else. And I hope that that is her legacy.’

Co-workers said Lunstroth was constantly part of the student community.

‘She enjoyed the casual debate that she would find herself in with a student. She loved any kind of theater and most of all, she enjoyed being here because it was a place that was very vibrant,’ assistant dean Jodie K’ouml;szegi said. ‘She really was an institution here in our college.’

Lunstroth was the face of the Honors College for more than 20 years, greeting every person who set foot in the college.

She never let faculty or students forget the important aspects of life and where they came from, Monroe said.

Lunstroth opened her home to many students who needed comfort during their time at UH.

‘She would provide an education, cook and be like a second mother to them,’ Monroe said. ‘There are dozens of students who lived with Tanya, and if she had a bigger place, there would have been more students who lived with her.’

The ‘spicy grandmother’ invited students to her home for weekly Sunday dinners.

‘It was marked by delicious food, but also great conversation,’ Monroe said. ‘The students who were lucky enough to be invited were shaped by those experiences that they will never forget because they were just as important as any classroom lecture.’

Lunstroth was always a proponent of the Honors College, offering a warm welcome to many students and staff members.

‘I want people to know about the Honors College: the good work that we do and the wonderful students that we have,’ Lunstroth said in an 2007 UH Campus News interview. ‘It’s a very supportive place to be. A lot of friendships are formed, and there’s a real sense of belonging.’

A memorial service for Lunstroth will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday in the Honors College Commons.

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