Lana Coble '78 -- Building a Life
She’s built a strong foundation in a tough industry. Now, this alumna is ready to put the finishing touches on her career in construction management.
By Donna Parker
Lana Coble is a rarity in the construction industry-a female licensed professional. She has blazed a trail as one of the first females in a traditionally male-dominated business. She received a degree in homebuilding from Trinity in 1978.
After completing her studies at Trinity, Lana pursued her master of architecture degree with a specialty in construction management from Texas A&M University. Still, even with her advanced education, she finds the basic skills of human interaction such as teamwork and leadership to be essential to finding success, in this or any other business.
"It is all about the ability to work with people. It is critical in construction management," says this associate professor at the University of Houston who also is a founding member of the UH Student Chapter Women's Contractor Association.
"Mentorship is a lost art-especially in construction-because the process of creating a space that is aesthetically pleasing and functional hasn't changed over the years. The problem is that the knowledge of how to build in the best way possible usually does not get passed down from generation to generation as it historically had," explains Lana.
Lana's focus as a college professor is to bring the thought process back to teaching rather than watching students check off boxes and expect instant success which she says is a sure setup for failure.
"That's what I loved about Trinity. The school cared about us and it just felt like a very nurturing place. At that point in my development, I knew that was critical. It was my first time away from home and with such a small student to teacher ratio, I knew I'd be able to get a true education and not just be a number. Very important since I wanted a good, strong foundation."
Lana says Trinity was always the campus for her. She looked at colleges her sophomore year and met Dean Coleen Grissom, department of English, in the process who not surprisingly convinced her to come to Trinity.
"College turned out to be the best four years of my life," says Lana. "Rev. Raymond Judd, University chaplain emeritus, was a great role model and confidante and Ed Roy, department of geosciences, made geology fun to learn with his easy-going manner."
"Still, there were a lot of hurdles to overcome after graduation. Very few women in the '70s had staying power in my business. Most went into engineering to earn the respect of the men but I was the first woman to be hired by a general contractor in Houston in 1980. It took me a long time to gain acceptance from ‘the boys,'" remembers Lana.
Lana was appointed vice president at her first firm and did very well in her chosen field. During her career she worked on behalf of owners and contractors to build higher education facilities and the largest of her efforts was the 25-story Methodist Hospital in the Texas Medical Center for $350 Million. Shortly thereafter, she was presented with the opportunity to move into teaching at the University of Houston. "I wanted to take this opportunity to teach others and provide mentoring which is something I strongly believe in."
"From a personal standpoint after years of ‘always doing the right thing,' I did what I truly wanted to do. I began a new relationship and celebrated a commitment ceremony with my now partner of 16 years. We have successfully raised twin girls into thoughtful and socially conscious, mature women and have added to our family with a son in law who is loving and considerate. My partner is Dutch and her family has totally accepted our relationship. I have lived a very blessed life to have the support of my partner's family and that of my own family, where so many persons experience rejection for who they truly are."
"In school, I became very close to Reverend Judd and he even baptized me on Ash Wednesday of 1975. This is partly why Trinity holds such a significant place in my life. When I lay my head down on my pillow at night, I'm content and know that I'm being true to myself. My dad always told me not to sell myself short and be the very best at what I wanted to do."
"I've done that...and now, I'm ready to give back."
You may contact Lana at email@example.com.
Story posted: December 2012