As we celebrate Baylor’s legacy and ongoing mission of preparing men and women for leadership and service, we are honoring Baylor graduates who have left an indelible mark upon the history of our great state through their significant and enduring contributions to healthcare, law, scientific research, education, religion, engineering, the arts and humanities and other fields of endeavor.
Many Baylor alumni, past and present, have distinguished themselves during careers dedicated to public service — in both elected and appointed positions — in Texas and beyond. Baylor’s namesake, Judge R.E.B. Baylor, served the state as a district judge. In addition to drafting the charter that established Baylor University, Judge Baylor was instrumental in writing Texas’ first state constitution as the Republic became a part of the United States. Since statehood, five Baylor alumni have served as governors of Texas over the years, including Pat Neff, who helped establish what is now Texas Tech University and the Texas State Park System. Sul Ross, a Texas Ranger and soldier, was the first governor to enjoy the State Capitol and served as one of Texas A&M’s first presidents. Mark White, who served Texas in numerous roles, was a champion for education in Texas. Two other Baylor alumni stand out for their groundbreaking service: Govs. Price Daniel Sr. and Ann Richards. Daniel held more prominent offices of public trust than anyone else in Texas history. After earning an undergraduate degree in journalism from Baylor in 1931, he completed his legal studies at Baylor in 1932 and began a law practice in his hometown of Liberty, establishing himself as a formidable defense attorney while also co-owning and publishing two weekly newspapers. In 1939, he won a seat in the Texas House of Representatives, beginning a career in public service that would span more than four decades and include positions in all three branches of state government.
Daniel was unanimously chosen to serve as Speaker of the House for the 48th Texas Legislature. After one term as speaker, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in July 1943. He achieved the rank of captain and served as a judge advocate general in the Pacific and Japan. After his discharge in May 1946, Daniel embarked on a quick but successful campaign to become the youngest attorney general in Texas history. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1952 and returned to Texas in 1956 to pursue a long-held goal, noting that he would “rather be governor of Texas than president of the United States.” He won the gubernatorial race and went on to serve three terms, from 1957 to 1963.
In 1967, President Lyndon Johnson appointed Daniel to direct the Office of Emergency Preparedness in Washington, which also established him as a member of the National Security Council, and to serve as assistant to the president for federal-state relations. He left Washington in January 1969, when Johnson’s presidency ended, and two years later was appointed to the Texas Supreme Court, where he served as a justice for eight years. He died on August 25, 1988, at his ranch in southeast Texas.
Ann Richards served as governor of Texas from 1991 to 1995, vowing to create a “New Texas” and to return government to the people. Half of her four hundred gubernatorial appointments went to women or minorities, and many observers believed that her popularity helped usher in a new era for women in politics. She also sparked an economic recovery and a replenishment of the public coffers, leaving her successor $2 billion in the black.
Born near Waco, Richards attended Baylor on a full debate scholarship. After graduating in 1954, she earned a teaching certificate at the University of Texas and taught public school. In 1975, Richards became the first female Travis County commissioner in Austin. When she was elected state treasurer in 1982, Richards became the first woman in fifty years to win a statewide office, and on November 6, 1990, she became only the second woman elected governor of Texas. She died on September 13, 2006, in Austin.
World War II hero Jack Lummus remains an inspiring figure of selfless patriotism to his fellow Texans. In 1937, he enrolled at Baylor, where he became a three-time All-Southwest Conference centerfielder in baseball and an honorable mention All-America end in football. After the 1941 baseball season, he left school to play professional baseball in the Class D West Texas-New Mexico League and then signed as a free agent with the NFL’s New York Giants that fall. He played in nine games as an end on offense and defense and helped the team compile a record of 8-3 and reach the NFL championship game, played just two Sundays after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
Lummus joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve as a private on January 30, 1942. After basic training and a course of study at Officers Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in 1942 and a first lieutenant in 1943. He was assigned to the newly created 5th Marine Division in January 1944 and transferred to Camp Tarawa in Hawaii in preparation for what would become one of the most famous battles in World War II.
The Battle of Iwo Jima began on February 19, 1945, with 75,000 U.S. Marines charged with capturing the small island from more than 20,000 enemy soldiers established in hundreds of defense fortifications and miles of tunnels. Lummus landed in the first wave of troops and initially served as a battalion liaison officer for the 2nd Battalion of the 27th Regiment, helping to coordinate the attack. On March 5, with officer casualties mounting, he was placed in command of a rifle platoon in Company E of the regiment. On the morning of March 8, after two days and two nights of steady fighting, Lummus led his platoon on a charge of Japanese positions.
During the fighting, he was gravely wounded and was carried back to an aid station, where he told his friend and attending doctor Thomas M. Brown, “Well, Doc, the New York Giants lost a mighty good end today.” He died on the field hospital’s operating table at the age of 29. On May 5, 1946, Lummus was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor in action. His citation, signed by President Harry Truman, concludes, “He gallantly gave his life in the service of his country.” Initially buried on Iwo Jima, Lummus’s remains were interred in 1948 in Ennis’s Myrtle Cemetery. On Veterans Day in 2005, a monument in Lummus’s honor was dedicated in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin.
Gordon Teal grew up in Dallas and sped through his studies in mathematics and chemistry at Baylor, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1927 after three years on campus. He went on to study at Brown University, where he earned MS and PhD degrees in physical chemistry in 1928 and 1931, respectively. While at Brown, he conducted research on germanium, a semiconducting element. After beginning his professional career at Bell Telephone Laboratories in New Jersey in 1930, he pursued a quest to find a use for what he called “this shiny, metallic-appearing material.” While doing research in Bell Labs’ Chemical Research Department that resulted in forty-five patents, he developed a technique for producing high-purity, single-crystalline germanium.
His achievement became the turning point in a project unfolding down the hall from him in 1948 — the attempt, led by future Nobel laureate William Shockley, to create a functioning junction transistor. With germanium, and with Teal serving as co-developer, the first junction transistor became a reality. “There was probably no more important scientific development in the semiconductor field . . . than the development of high-quality, single crystals of germanium at Bell Telephone Laboratories,” Shockley later said.
After 22 years at Bell Labs, Teal moved back to his hometown of Dallas in January 1953 to become director of the research laboratory at Texas Instruments. Within two years, Teal achieved another landmark accomplishment — the development of the first commercial silicon transistor. Located just above germanium on the periodic table, silicon had been seen as a promising replacement for germanium, which turned out to have limitations as a conductor. But the ability to grow sufficiently pure silicon crystals had been deemed a thing of the future. Teal, who had worked on silicon crystals while still at Bell Labs, surprised his peers at the 1954 National Conference on Airborne Electronics in Dayton, Ohio, when he told them, “Contrary to what my colleagues have told you about the bleak prospects for silicon transistors, I happen to have a few of them here in my pocket.”
Texas Instrument’s immediate production of silicon transistors — each one of which, smaller than a postage stamp, could replace the equivalent of forty vacuum tubes — transformed the young, relatively small company into an industry leader as companies quickly incorporated transistors into the production of a wide variety of products. Teal’s groundbreaking work on transistors ensured his legacy as a father of the silicon age. It also prepared the electronics industry for the major technology advances of the 1960s and the next generation of computers — the silicon transistor being the forerunner of the modern silicon-based integrated circuit.
Teal died on January 7, 2003, in Dallas at the age of 95. Today, Baylor University’s East Village Residential Community features the Gordon Teal Residential College, home to the Residential College for Engineering and Computer Science and honoring one of the most influential American scientists of the twentieth century.
Positioned for the future
Looking back at the history of Baylor, from its roots as the first coeducational university west of the Mississippi to the birth of the state’s first law school, it is clear that Baylor has forged its own path.
Today, Baylor is actively pursuing designation as Texas’s next Carnegie-classified Research 1 (R1) university. Currently only nine universities in Texas produce the impactful research that meets this standard. Research universities impact a state in multiple ways, from knowledge expansion and innovation to economic development and impact on solutions to societal problems. A recent study conducted by Texas Business Journals in partnership with Baylor University found business leaders in the four largest Texas markets believe Texas needs more research universities in the state to be competitive. In addition, almost 80% of respondents said research experience improves college graduates preparation for the workforce — a positive impact on the state’s need for highly skilled employees.