As Associate Vice President for Student Enrichment, Health and Support, Stephanie Brown, Ph.D., has long worked to make students’ lives better. Last fall, she recruited a beloved family member to help—a boxer-pit mix named Lucy. 

The duo were part of the Denton campus’ inaugural Pet Therapy Program, which Brown helped found with Pet Partners, a group aimed at improving health and wellbeing through human-animal bonds. The program trains volunteers to become pet therapy handlers and holds events where students can interact with animals—especially during stressful times like finals. 

It has been a resounding success, with the program inundated with requests for more events. Brown hopes to expand the program’s capacity, add on equine therapy options, and make a therapy animal available at TWU’s counseling and psychological services.

“Students tell us all the time, ‘You don’t understand how beneficial this is to us,’” said Brown, noting that many students cite anxiety, depression and stress as impediments to their academic success. “It is so special to share your animal that way—because I know the power of pets.”