University News Service

Howard Payne University will bestow its highest honor on Bettie J. Girling, of Austin, at a special honorary doctorate ceremony on Saturday, June 16.

Girling will receive the Doctor of Humanities degree at the ceremony to be held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin.

“Mrs. Bettie J. Girling is an outstanding Christian leader who has been highly successful in her careers in social work and business,” said HPU President Dr. Lanny Hall. “Howard Payne University is proud to honor her with the institution’s highest recognition.”

Participants in the ceremony will include Hall; Rick Akins, chairman of the HPU board of trustees; Dr. Donnie Auvenshine, vice president for academic affairs; Betty Broome, coordinator of trustee relations; Dr. Lynn Nabers, HPU trustee member; and Dr. Mary Scott Nabers, HPU President’s Development Council member; and numerous Girling family members.

Girling was one of the last graduates of Daniel Baker College in 1952 before it consolidated with Howard Payne University. She then went on to earn her Master of Science in Social Work degree from The University of Texas at Austin in 1956.

As co-founders of Girling Health Care, Inc., Bettie J. Girling and her husband, Robert G.W. Girling III, nurtured what began as a modest, home-based licensed registry for homemakers and babysitters into one of the top 25 employers in the state of Texas and the largest home health agency in Austin.

Married in 1960, the Girlings established their company in 1967 to provide additional income for their growing family.

The Girlings have always shared their commitment to quality care with their management team and their children, who now all work for Girling Health Care. Robert G.W. Girling IV is the chief operations officer, daughter Katherine Susan Jane Girling-Odom is vice president of customer service and client/patient relations, and daughter Maria Julia Anastasia Girling-Schwenk is vice president of purchasing.

As Girling Health Care’s chief executive officer, Bettie J. Girling remains hands-on with the company’s day-to-day operations, forever supporting her life-long mission to help others.

She has served in leadership capacities for a variety of institutions and organizations including The University of Texas’ School of Social Work and School of Nursing Foundation, Texas Department of Health’s Home Health Advisory Board and the Austin Symphony Orchestra Society.

She has also served as a member of the President’s Development Council at Howard Payne University since 2005.

In 2006, HPU established The Bettie and Robert Girling Center for Social Justice, an undergraduate multidisciplinary initiative involving the departments of social work, sociology, psychology, legal studies and criminal justice.

The program is housed on the Daniel Baker College campus of HPU in the historic Coggin Academy building.

Opened in 1876, the building as served as a public elementary school and high school, as well as a DBC dormitory, science hall and library. The Center for Social Justice was named for the Girlings in grateful recognition of their generous leadership gift to this significant restoration effort.

The home health industry and academic community have bestowed some of their highest honorary titles and awards to Girling for her impact in the industry and beyond. She has been listed in Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World.

She has also been named one of the Notable Women of Texas. She was recognized as a Distinguished Alumna by the Daniel Baker Ex-Student Association and also received the Ida Mae Herbert Meritorious Award from the Texas Association for Home Care.