Baylor Women in Leadership

March 15, 2011

In 1855, Mary Gentry Kavanaugh became the first woman to earn a Baylor degree -- just a year after the university's first male graduate.

Since Kavanaugh earned her "Maid of Arts" degree, a host of other Baylor women have played large parts in the university's success. Such names as Roxy Harriette Grove (chair of the School of Music from 1926-43) and Gladys Allen (a Baylor trustee from 1941-47 and 1951-53) are still remembered thanks to the buildings named in their honor.

Enid Markham, AB '23, gave the university its school song, penning the modern lyrics to "That Good Old Baylor Line" in 1931. Lily Russell served Baylor for more than half a century in roles ranging from dean of women to director of public relations to director of the Student Union Building. The first person in computing at Baylor, Dr. Helen Ligon helped develop Baylor's first information systems courses. Donna Denton was the university's first female vice president, serving from 1972-94, and longtime professor Ann Miller was one of Baylor's first two Master Teachers.

Baylor's female graduates have also made names for themselves outside the university over the years. Dr. Dorothy Scarborough, BA 1896, MA 1899, founded Baylor's journalism department, the first in the southwest, but was also a critically acclaimed novelist and poet. Ruth Helm, BBA '37, served as one of the Women Airforce Service Pilots during World War II. Ann Richards, BA '54, is still one of only two women ever to serve as governor of Texas. In 1997, Marjorie Scardino, BA '69, was appointed CEO of Pearson PLC -- the first female CEO ever to head a top 100 firm on the London Stock Exchange.

In the related links above, we share some insights from some Baylor women who today serve in leadership roles across a number of fields: law, ministry, the sciences, technology and military medicine.