By Daniel C. Houston
Four wives of Baylor presidents past and present regaled the Baylor Round Table on Wednesday with stories from their experiences as the university’s first ladies, providing insight into the more personal side of the administration’s highest office.
The Baylor Round Table, which is an organization composed of female faculty and wives of administrators or faculty, invited Alice Starr, Diana Garland, Sue Sloan and Mary McCall to speak.
The speakers were the current first lady (wife of President Ken Starr) and the first ladies during the presidencies of interim president David Garland (2008 to 2010), Robert Sloan (1995 to 2005) and Abner McCall (1961 to 1981), respectively.
Although the speakers spent much of their time telling humorous anecdotes and sharing favorite moments, the discussion also put on display changes that have occurred in university culture over time and shed light on the role of the first lady in university life.
Though Mary McCall was not able to attend the event because of health issues prior to the forum, she prepared statements to be read by event moderator and former regent Donell Teaff, wife of former head football coach Grant Teaff. Mary McCall married Abner McCall while he was the sitting president of Baylor.
“When Abner proposed to me,” Mary McCall wrote, “he said, ‘Mary, I can’t promise you will be happy because people sometimes chew on me, but I can promise that you will never have a dull moment.’ These words sum up the life of a university president’s life: not always happy, but never dull.”
Full coverage of this event — including stories from inside the president’s office — will be published in the April 13 special section issue of the Lariat, which will focus on Baylor through the years.