In celebration of Black History Month, McMurry University took time this past February to interview several alums from across the long history of our institution. We wanted to learn about their experiences – both at McMurry and in the broader Abilene community.
What was it like going to class as the only Black student on campus in the early-60’s? What has changed about the campus over these past few decades? Are we living up to our commitments to foster a diverse community of students?
What we learned from each of these alums often surprised us, and we were left with an enduring sense that, despite America’s inherent challenges associated with race relations, McMurry has often served as a sanctuary for Black students and faculty – a place where they feel free to live their truth and grow their education.
Arthur L. Pertile, III
One of our best-known alums – Arthur L. Pertile, III – sat down for an interview to discuss his time as a student at McMurry in the early 1980’s. After graduating from McMurry, Mr. Pertile earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Texas School of Law. Following that, he has enjoyed a long career that included serving as City Attorney for Waco, TX for many years.
Dr. Hope Pamplin
As a young African-American McMurry student in the late 90’s, Dr. Hope Pamplin learned firsthand about challenges faced by minorities in central TX. Her work today as a Licensed Professional Counselor helping disabled students was a direct result of discovering her own disability while in classes at McMurry. Dr. Pamplin is a shining example of what it means to make your disadvantages into “superpowers”, and we are proud of her work as an LPC.
McMurry’s own Jarrett Hart, president of McMurry Student Government (MSG) and all-around standout senior, sat down with us recently to look back on his four years as a student. A business major with an emphasis on sales, Jarrett was kind enough to relay his experience as a young, African American representative for our student body. From working at Best Buy as part of their Geek Squad service, to hosting events like McMurry’s yearly lip sync battles, Jarrett’s dynamic and diverse skills have been wonderful to experience over these past four years.
Dr. Morris Baker
For our final Black History Month portrait, McMurry University had the honor of speaking with Dr. Morris Baker ’63, one of our most treasured alums, and a true dignitary from the storied halls of our many great faculty. Dr. Baker graduated from McMurry the same year President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and he returned to us 20 years later as a professor of Psychology.