This blog post was written by Alex Hampton and Hannah Engstrom, museum studies graduate students.
Baylor University has been impressively represented by its students since its conception. Baylor graduates have made astounding contributions to a variety of fields from medicine to music. At the W. R. Poage Legislative Library we house the papers of several proud Baylor grads who chose to dedicate their careers to public service, all of whom made their own unique contributions in that arena. While their interest in that line of work was influenced by a multiplicity of events and experiences, their time at Baylor University was certainly an important factor that provided them with opportunities that helped shape their career decision.
Our newest exhibit, “Representing the Green and Gold: Baylor Politicians,” highlights five Baylor graduates who entered politics during or after their time at Baylor. Although they all served in different capacities, each one served the public with ambitious, honest leadership and truly represented what it means to be a Baylor Bear.
One Bear whose name you might recognize is Bob Bullock. He was recently featured in another of our exhibits and you will meet him again in this one. Bullock is one of Baylor’s most famous graduates who started his political career as a state representative for his hometown while still attending law school. In 1975 he became Comptroller of Public Accounts and it was in this position that his powerful personality and unending drive shined. Bullock made dramatic changes through computerization, making it one of the first modern departments in Texas. Eventually, Bullock became Texas’ Lieutenant Governor and held that position until his retirement in 1999.
Some other Baylor politicians you will meet that you might be familiar with are W. R. “Bob” Poage (our institution’s namesake) who served in the Texas House and Senate before representing the Waco area for 42 years in Congress; and Jack Hightower who was a member of the Texas House before serving in the U.S. House representing Texas’ 13th congressional district.
Two additional Bears you will encounter who you might not recognize are Ernest Ray Kirkpatrick who also served in the Texas House and remained a loyal fan of Baylor and its athletic department long after he graduated, and Kip Averitt who, as a Baylor bear trainer, can probably attribute much of his patience to a feisty bear named Kelli who acted as Baylor’s live mascot for a short time.
To learn more about these important political figures who once called Baylor home, visit us until November 17 – and don’t forget to “Sic’Em Bears!”