- Former Co-Director of the Center for Research on the Influence of Television on Children at KU
- 1988: KU Irvin Youngberg Award for Outstanding Achievement in Applied Sciences
- 1990: American Alliance for Theater and Education Special Recognition Award for Service to the Field
- 1992: One of ten members of the National Television Council
- 1992: American Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology and the Media for her book, Big World, Small Screen: The Role of Television in American Society
- 1994: University of Kansas Distinguished Professor of Human Development and Family Life
One might not think that Sesame Street and the University of Kansas have much in common, but the shared link lies with the phenomenal Aletha C. Huston, former Professor and expert on the influence of television on children.
Huston earned her BA in Psychology from Stanford in 1960 and her MA/Phd in 1965. She worked in the University of Minnesota Hospitals from 1963-1964 under a clinical internship that held its emphasis on children, and her predoctorate fellowship (1961-1965) was with the National Institutes of Mental Health. From 1965-1968, Dr. Huston was an Assistant Professor at Cornell University. She moved up the ranks of professorship from 1968 to 1976 at Pennsylvania State University before coming to the University of Kansas as a Professor in the Departments of Human Development & Family Life and Psychology. She had also worked at Temple University from 1973-1974 as a visiting Associate Professor.
Dr. Huston has received many accolades for her excellence in teaching, research, and service in her field. In 1987, she was named the Distinguished Visiting Professor at Callifornia State University at Chico. At the University of Kansas, she received the 1988 Irvin Youngberg Award for Outstanding Achievement in Applied Sciences and a 1989 Burling Northern Award for Outstanding Teaching. The American Alliance for Theater and Education honored her in 1990 with a Special Recognition Award for Service to the Field. She was named the University Distinguished Professor of Human Development and Family Life in 1994.
From 1978 until the end of her career at the University of Kansas, Dr. Huston most notably served as Co-Director (with her husband) of the Center for Research on the Influence of Television on Children at KU. In one of her presentations, “Myths about Children and Television,” she explained some of her work and research. “I want to do some myth-bashing,” she said. “I want to tweak the intellectual snobs who say television is a wasteland,” conveying that quality children’s television could be very educational. She provided testimony to the US Senate Commerce Committee in 1989 on the subject of education children through the medium of television. In 1992, Dr. Huston was named to the National Television Council, and ten-member advisory board which awards excellent production and distribution of children’s television. Other members of the Board included Mister Rogers, the President of Nickelodeon, the producers of “Sesame Street”, Levar Burton from “Reading Rainbow”, and the Vice President of the Walt Disney Co. That same year, she received the American Psychological Association’s Award for Distinguished Contribution to Psychology and the Media for her book, Big World, Small Screen: The Role of Television in American Society.
Dr. Huston belongs to the American Psychological Association, of which she was named a Fellow in 1975, Society for Research in Child Development, the Southwestern Society for Research in Human Development, the International Communications Association, Public Policy Association, Society for the Psychological Study of Research Issues, and is a charter Fellow of the American Psychological Society. From 1993-1994, she was elected President of the Developmental Psychology division of the APA. She has also served on the advisory boards for the Hallmark Child Development Project and the National Research Council of the National Academy of Science. By 1995, she had published 60 journal articles in 27 professional journals, 33 chapters in books or encyclopedias, and six books. At the University, she served on the Board of Directors for Hilltop, the Board of Directors for Kansas Action for Children, and the Child Care Advisory Council of Social and Rehabilitative Services Department for the State of Kansas for a year. During the 1986-1987 academic year, she taught in the Department of Political Science on an intrauniversity visiting professorship.
Huston is currently teaching at the University of Texas.