From campus to the Capitol: Baylor alums as Texas Governor
The Texas flag may be red, white and blue, but the Texas governor’s office has taken on a distinctly green-and-gold hue down through the years. Since 1887, five former Bears have served as governor of Texas; in fact, no other university has educated more chief executives of the Lone Star State than Baylor.
Who were these five Bears who served as governor?
* Sul Ross, 19th Governor of Texas, 1887-91 — Today, he’s better known for the eponymous state university, Sul Ross State, in Alpine, but Ross was well known throughout Texas in his day as a Texas Ranger and soldier, roles he served after attending Baylor while it was still in Independence. He was the first governor to enjoy the State Capitol Building we see today (it was completed during his tenure in 1888), and later served as one of Texas A&M’s first presidents.
* Pat Neff, 28th Governor of Texas, 1921-25 — Everyone in Baylor Nation knows his name, but not everyone knows that Baylor’s signature gold-domed building is named for the only alum to serve as both Texas governor and Baylor president. Seven years after leaving the governor’s office, Neff returned to his alma mater as Baylor’s ninth president. His legacy includes the creation of the Texas State Park system as governor, and dramatic increases in enrollment while Baylor president.
* Price Daniel Sr., 38th Governor of Texas, 1957-63 — In addition to serving as governor, Daniel also served as a U.S. Senator, a Texas Supreme Court justice, and as Speaker of the Texas House. He was an icon of Texas politics for three decades, but it’s his brother’s name that Baylor Nation recognizes most today; the Bill Daniel Student Center (also known as the SUB) was named for his younger brother, Gov. Bill Daniel.
* Mark White, 43rd Governor of Texas, 1983-87 — A longtime attorney and Texas public servant, White is the only Baylor alum to serve as Texas secretary of state, attorney general and governor. White claims to be the only Texas governor to host a live bear in the governor’s reception room, an event that took place when the Baylor Chamber of Commerce brought one of Baylor’s live mascots to Austin prior to a game against Texas. While in office, White was known for his focus on education; out of office, he was an advocate for keeping the Big 12 together when realignment threatened the conference.
* Ann Richards, 45th Governor of Texas, 1991-95 — The most recent Baylor alum in the governor’s office, Richards was a true Texas icon. Her spirited personality and quick wit, honed as a member of Baylor’s debate team, made her well-known beyond Texas’ borders. Richards’ time in office benefitted Baylor directly when her influence reportedly helped usher Baylor into the Big 12, and her trailblazing career opened doors for other women to serve in statewide office. Richards lost a battle with cancer in 2006, but her legacy continues to remembered, even in print and on stage.
These five Texas governors, shaped at Baylor, in turn helped shape the state Baylor calls home. Who will be the next Baylor Bear to serve at the statehouse? Whoever it may be, he or she will add to a legacy of Texas gubernatorial service that no other university has topped.
Sic ’em, Baylor governors!