Professors explain return to campus after graduation

For School of Education professor and daughter of a Baylor graduate, Mary Witte going to Baylor was never a choice.

“My dad said, ‘I will pay for you to go to school anywhere you want, as long as it’s Baylor’,” Witte said. “It was the best decision my dad ever made.”

Witte, however, is only one of many other Baylor graduates who have come back to campus to teach as professors.

During the fall of 1974, Witte’s freshman year, Baylor football won the Southwest Conference Championship, and she said that’s when she knew Baylor was the place for her.

Witte graduated in 1978 with a degree in elementary education, got married right away and began teaching second grade. She had no plans of coming back to Baylor, but after 11 years of teaching she felt a call to leave the classroom and go back to school. She came back to Baylor in 1991 and left in 1996 with a doctorate in education.

Witte said she is amazed by how much the campus has expanded since her time as a student, she remembers being able to walk to all her classes in under two minutes and still gets shocked when a student tells her it can take up to 15 minutes to walk to class.

Even with the changes and improvements made over time, Witte is impressed and proud that the school has stayed true to its commitment to being a Christian university. She derives her teaching style from the professors and mentors she had as a student.

“Baylor has a pride like no other university, you can feel the community and high standard the second you step onto campus,” Witte said. “There is no place I’d rather be.”

Leah Teague, Baylor law professor and associate dean of law, is also the daughter of a Baylor grad and never had trouble deciding where to go to college. Her father, Al Witcher, attended the university on a football scholarship and is now in the Baylor Football Hall of Fame and in 2011 was named a Baylor Football Legend. Teague said she never thought about going to another university.

“Growing up in Waco my favorite thing to do was run around in the end zone after football games,” Teague said. “Baylor is and has always been my home.”

Teague graduated in 1983 with a degree in accounting on a on a Saturday in May and began Law School at Baylor the following Monday.

During her time as a student, Teague was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and served as scholarship chair for a year. Teague was focused on maintaining good grades and while that is important she said she wishes she had taken advantage of everything the school had to offer. She advises all her students to study hard but to take breaks and have fun too.

“I would have had a much fuller, richer experience at Baylor if I wasn’t in such a hurry to get A’s and get out.” Teague said.

Teague had practiced law for a little more than four years when a position opened to teach at the Baylor Law School. About two years before this, Teague had filled in for a professor for a few weeks and knew she wanted to keep teaching.

“As soon as I saw the position open, I jumped at it. I knew I wanted to teach and I knew I wanted to be back at Baylor.” Teague said.

Not all graduates and professors had their plan so clearly laid out for them. Kevin Tankersley, journalism, public relations and new media senior lecturer, came to Baylor in 1990 after attending McLennan Community College and working for several years managing a photo lab.

After getting his degree in business journalism, Tankersley became the sports information director at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and while working there got his Master’s degree in journalism. After he graduated, he was offered a job teaching a reporting class at the university. After teaching there for a semester, Tankersley took a job teaching part time at Baylor, which later turned into a full -time teaching job.

“I was very happy to be back at Baylor. I loved my time as a student and knew I would be happy working there.” Tankersley said.

Tankersley has worked with the sports information department, Baylor photography and public relations.

One of his favorite student memories came through these jobs when he got the opportunity to be on the field and photograph football head coach Grant Taft’s last game at Baylor.

Tankersley has taught a wide range of classes in the journalism, public relations and new media department and although he never, planned on teaching, he loves his job and believes his unique experience in the field can be of great benefit to his students.

“I’ve been working in and around media for 30 years,” Tankersley said. “I love passing on what I’ve learned to the next generation of journalists. No other job gives me that opportunity.”