Lence was the recipient of an unprecedented number of Teaching Excellence Awards from the University of Houston and the State of Texas. In January 2007, in memory of Lence, the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Houston renamed its teaching excellence awards the Ross M. Lence Awards for Teaching Excellence in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.
Lence was born in Whitefish, Montana on December 19, 1943. His father, Marlo, was a foreman on the Great Northern Railway; his mother, Nickie stayed home to raise Ross and his brother, John, before taking a job to run a photography studio. Ross graduated from Whitefish High School with a 4.0 GPA and was valedictorian of his class. After completing his Bachelor's Degree at the University of Chicago, Ross studied at Georgetown University, then at Indiana University under Charles S. Hyneman, who took Ross on a 15,000 mile, 5-year trip across America to give Ross first-hand experience of the country. In 1970, Ross researched at The British Museum. He began teaching at the University of Houston in 1971, where he also served as Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Political Science for 23 years. Throughout his career, Lence was a perennial participant, leader, and director at Liberty Fund Colloquia. He died on July 11, 2006 in Houston, TX after a bout with pancreatic cancer.