Faculty, Staff and Friends Share Memories

Paul Klotman, M.D., President, CEO, and Executive Dean

I’ve had many great experiences in the eight years I’ve been at Baylor, but the response after Hurricane Harvey is one that quickly comes to mind. I think of our own workers who protected our campus, our physicians who provided care to those stranded in shelters, and our faculty, students and staff who helped others with rescue and clean-up. It was a best case example of exhibiting Baylor values. I’ll never forget it. And of course, being able to honor Dr. David Persse and Texans’ star J.J. Watt on stage at commencement for their Harvey efforts was pretty cool too. Not to mention, a Nobel laureate also shared the stage that night. Great memory!

Danette Bagley, MBA, Assistant Provost of Academic Finance and Resource Management

Dr. DeBakey was scheduled to present at a Board meeting and was about 30 minutes early, so someone brought in a few medical students. He asked me to join them, and he told us stories of how the M*A*S*H units started and other stories of his early medical career.

John Rapp, Senior Director, Student Affairs, School of Medicine

I certainly remember 2007, the year we pulled off bringing graduation back to the Baylor campus after we received a bomb threat at Jones Hall. We have photos of Dr. Traber speaking through the megaphone telling people that graduation had been moved due to a bomb threat. We threw all of the diplomas in the back of a car and brought them back to the president’s office and had to reorganize them. We then divided the students into three groups and had three mini graduations in Cullen, Kleberg, McMillan. We walked the commencement speaker up and down the hall to give his speech three times. It was a cool graduation because this is where the students started and where they finished.

Dr. Janet S. Butel, Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus, Chair Emeritus, Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology

A special memory for me was when I was appointed by President William T. Butler to become the first woman chair of an academic unit at Baylor College of Medicine, a landmark for the institution and the start of a long administrative effort for me.

Dr. Stacey Berg, Professor of Pediatrics and Medical Ethics, Director of Developmental Therapeutics Program

Baylor College of Medicine has had many great accomplishments, but I think our finest moment in the last 20 years was when we took in the Tulane medical students after Katrina. We gave them space in our classrooms and in our homes, and they gave us a way to help rebuild New Orleans, as well as lasting friendship.

Dr. John Wolf, Professor and Chair, Department of Dermatology

I have been on the Baylor faculty for 44 years, so I have many fond memories. When I arrived, I was only two years older than Baylor, so in some ways we have grown up together. For 36 years, I have served as chair of the Department of Dermatology. Initially, I was the youngest chair at Baylor, now I am the most senior. Along the way, I have served four presidents (Dr. William Butler twice). It has been “a long, strange trip," but a constantly exciting and rewarding one. I have greatly enjoyed witnessing as Baylor mature into a world-class institution.

Onward and upward. Excelsior!

Dr. Richard Gibbs, professor and director of the Human Genome Sequencing Center

I was at Academic Council when it was announced that the Houston VA was being named ‘The Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center.’ Everyone applauded…..and Dr. DeBakey said quietly…”I am particularly pleased about this honor….as I remember telling President Truman ….we need a Veterans Hospital System’…..”. Everyone reflected.

Dr. Bert W. O’Malley, Chancellor

The last 50 years at Baylor College of Medicine have been epitomized by its relentless progression to excellence. This institution has gone from a hospital-based and cardio-centric institution to an internationally renowned center for discovery science, translational medicine and medical training. It has been an exciting and enjoyable journey for me to experience along with our terrific faculty.

Bonnie Weisman, J.D., Executive Director of Human Resources, Administrative Fellowship Professional Mentor

When we first opened the Baylor Clinic, the recruitment team was tasked with hiring guest services representatives. This was a new concept for us, and we needed to be sure that the candidates could deliver exemplary customer service in challenging interactions. To make the interview experience realistic and informative, we developed role play situations and I got to be the person who was lost and couldn’t find the right office. Different recruiters played other roles and we all refined our acting skills! We hired several outstanding people. Two of the original GSRs are still with us and have had wonderful careers with Baylor. I remember their interview days with a smile every time I see them.

Mark A. Wallace, President and CEO of Texas Children’s Hospital

Baylor College of Medicine is the most important and significant healthcare organization in Texas! I’ve spent the last 41 years serving as an executive in the Texas Medical Center at hospitals affiliated with Baylor. Some of my fondest memories have been working with Baylor College of Medicine, its Board, administration and especially the full-time faculty!

Gayleen Breeding, M.B.A. Administrator, Orthopedic Surgery

I have been in department life at this amazing institution for over 17 years. I have vivid memories of Dr. Butler discussing how Baylor originally purchased the property on Cambridge and when we as an institution made the decision to develop the beautiful McNair Campus. Baylor is a footprint in the TMC with history found everywhere from the trees on campus, profound leaders and even in the instillation of flood gates from the devastation of Storm Allison. Countless memories that I have been able to experience mold this institution as it continues to have excellence in all missions. 

Oluyinka Olutoye, Professor of Surgery, Division of Pediatric Surgery and President of the Faculty Senate

Almost 20 years ago, I was attracted to Baylor College of Medicine by the reputation of the faculty and the stellar affiliated institutions, such as Texas Children’s Hospital where I practice. Arriving here and getting to meet the giants in surgery and pediatrics whom I had heard and read about was quite a thrill. Since that time, I have been privileged to help educate subsequent generations of physicians, scientists and health care professionals and watch them develop into educators and talented practitioners themselves.  Seeing my students become my colleagues and my young patients becoming physicians has been such a rewarding experience.

Dr. Jeffrey P Sutton, Director and Professor in the Center for Space Medicine

There is a long-standing and strong relationship between Baylor College of Medicine and NASA. During a meeting with Drs. DeBakey and Alford, General Howell (then director of Johnson Space Center) and me, the discussion turned to the importance of leadership. It was inspiring. Until then, I had not fully grasped the rich legacy and enormous potential of Baylor College of Medicine’s contributions to our nation’s space program and applications to enhance health on Earth.

Vicki Cox, Administrator, Radiology

I came to Baylor in 1983 to work for no longer than five years and now I am one month away from my 35th anniversary. It has been a fun ride and I would not change anything! I have had a wonderful career here and could not have asked to work for any better bosses, Dr. Bobby Alford, Dr. Jim Patrick, Dr. Michel Mawad and now finishing up with Dr. Eric Rohren, I have been a lucky girl. As I think back, I guess the one thing that comes to mind is when I joined Baylor we were still doing everything on paper, no computers to speak of. When I transferred from Psychiatry (Sleep Lab) to main administration, as assistant to Pat Camerino, I had a data base computer the size of a refrigerator that I entered all grants and proposals in to. Then came the Sperry Computers, I remember we could enter information into these computers, but not sure we could do anything else with them! We have come a long way! The first email system came out in 1980, but I don’t remember starting to use email on a daily basis until I joined the Department of Neuroscience in 1989! It was frightful!

Dr. Mark W. Kline, J.S. Abercrombie Professor and Chair, Ralph D. Feigin Chair in the Department of Pediatrics,  Physician-in-Chief at Texas Children’s Hospital

Tongue-in-cheek, in 1978 we called it the Gulf Coast Community of Parkwood. Renovated 1950s-era naval barracks, the Parkwood Apartments, located near the intersection of Cambridge and Old Spanish Trail, were the destination over the course of several decades of many incoming Baylor College of Medicine medical students. Located exactly one mile door-to-door from the Cullen auditorium, Parkwood was an affordable and easy walk for a first-year medical student taking basic science classes 30 hours per week. Apartment furnishings were not a priority in those days, the oversized green pillow thrown against my living room wall multipurposing as recliner, desk chair and bed. Real furniture would come later. Once I began clinical rotations, the Veterans Administration Hospital, located just across the street from my apartment, became my destination of choice.

In retrospect, Parkwood really was a community. Many of my best friends in the Baylor class of 1981 lived there at one time or another. Parkwood is where I ate, socialized, studied, did laundry and exercised over the course of nearly a decade of my life as a medical student, pediatric resident and subspecialty fellow. It was my home.

Today, Parkwood is only a fading memory, having morphed into Baylor’s McNair Campus, a home of a different sort to buildings, equipment and professionals dedicated to saving and improving lives. The passage of time is associated with remarkable change, but it is comforting in a way to realize that the McNair Campus is as fundamental to Baylor’s present and future as Parkwood was to Baylor’s past.

Lynn Foltin, Senior Director of Institutional Web Management, Office of Communications and Community Outreach

When Tropical Storm Allison hit, I was director of public affairs and media relations. It was all hands on deck for the public affairs office. We had media onsite and on the phone asking for information, updates and interviews. The College itself was closed. We had no electricity, no water, no A/C and the hallway floors were covered with debris. We found one floor in the Service Building (Telecom) that had A/C and electricity and an old electric typewriter. We had to run up four flights of stairs, type out releases and media advisories, then fax it to the various news bureaus. We had to initially look for a typewriter ribbon! With few amenities and recovery underway, food was brought in for crisis personnel. Every day it was Chick-fil-A … Chick-fil-A … Chick-fil-A. No disrespect to Chick-fil-A, but I still can’t eat one to this day. I am proud to have a been a small part in this chapter of Baylor history. We pulled together as a family, helped each other to get back on our feet – it was truly a community effort.

Agapito Sanchez Jr., Assistant Director of Graphic Communications in the Office of Communications and Marketing

I vividly recall my first encounter with Dr. DeBakey as one of the most embarrassing situations in my professional career. In my mind I was prepared and relaxed, in actuality I was a nervous wreck. At a press conference in early 1980s, Dr. DeBakey was presenting to a packed crowd in Rayzor Lounge. I had a prime spot as the Baylor photographer right in front of the podium. It being my first time to photograph Dr. DeBakey, I was taking one shot after another. Half way through my second or third roll of film he stops talking, looks down directly at me and says, “Young man, I think you have enough photos now.” A scattered chuckle rolls through the crowd. I was mortified. I recall not moving for the remainder of the talk, my neck and ears burned red with embarrassment. The rest of his talk seemed to go on forever, the longest six minutes of my life. Looking back I have to laugh at what was probably a non-event for a pioneer, the father of open heart surgery. I will always remember Dr. DeBakey with a smile.

Joe Zwer, Document Center Technician, Office of Communications and Community Outreach

When I started at Baylor 54 years ago, it was small. The chief of personnel knew everyone's name. Back then, Baylor had two parking lots in the rear that were separated by a wooded area. (Today this is the area between Baylor and TIRR). There was a little creek and lots of pine trees. I would park, then walk along a windy trail to get from the Baylor lot closest to TIRR to the Rayzor entrance. It was so pretty, so relaxing.

Mike Layton, Executive Director of Enterprise Technology in the Office of Information Technology

One of my first memories was set up of the first Blackberry Server here at Baylor. It occurred around the 2001 timeframe when Compliance was the first group to use the Blackberry. We set this up for them so that they could access email, calendar, and contacts on our Exchange 5.5 server. It was an exciting time. Some still use the Blackberry!

Dr. Joseph A. Garcia-Prats, Section of Neonatology, Professor of Pediatrics and Ethics, Department of Pediatrics

Baylor College of Medicine over these many years has met the difficult challenge of change to address the many shifts and updates in management, leadership, fiscal issues, research demands, clinical requirements, education. In each instance, change was not avoided when the College saw that a change yielded such positive results for all aspects of the college.