2017 Baylor Lawyer of the Year – Senator Murray Watson, Jr.

May 15, 2017

2017 Baylor Lawyer of the Year – Senator Murray Watson, Jr.

Congratulatory Banner for Senator Murray Watson

WACO, Texas -

Baylor Law School named Senator Murray Watson, Jr., of Waco, Texas, the 2017 Baylor Lawyer of the Year.

An Exemplar of a Public Servant

Dean Toben greets Senator Murray Watson, along iwith Ann Potts and Leah Teague
Baylor Law Dean Brad Toben, Baylor Law Alumni Association President Ann Potts Jackson, 2017 Baylor Lawyer of the Year Senator Murray Watson, and Baylor Law Associate Dean Leah W. Teague

"Senator Watson is most deserving of this honor," Dean Brad Toben said. "Murray is an exemplar of a public servant. His impact on the state of Texas, McLennan County, and Baylor is profound, and he is distinctively a humble, self-deprecating leader."

Senator Murray Watson gives remarks at a gathering in his honor
Senator Watson addresses the crowd at the 2017 Baylor Lawyer of the Year Luncheon.

Senator Watson graduated from Baylor University in 1952 with a bachelor of business administration degree and from Baylor Law School in 1954 with a juris doctor. Three years after graduating from Baylor Law School, Senator Watson was elected to the Texas House of Representatives. He served in the House until 1963 when he was elected to serve in the Texas Senate. As a Texas Senator, he proposed the bill establishing the creation of the James Connally Technical Institute which today is Texas State Technical College (TSTC). Senator Watson has served as the general counsel for TSTC for 26 years. He established the medical school in Temple as a branch of Texas A&M.

Leadership and Service

Dean Toben greets Senator Watson with a handshake

In 1976, Senator Watson, with Abner McCall and others, founded the Brazos Higher Education Service Corporation, Inc. The Brazos Higher Education Service Corporation, a nonprofit organization, has provided affordable access to higher education through financial aid, government guaranteed student loans, and scholarships. Senator Watson has served as general counsel, president, and CEO since its organization. Through his leadership, Brazos Higher Education has allowed thousands of young people to achieve their education dreams. As CEO of the Brazos organization, he grew the company to become the largest not for profit holder of student loans and the 4th largest holder of both for profit and not for profit student loans. Offices were opened in Massachusetts, Florida, California, and three offices in Texas – Austin, Corpus Christi, and Waco, with a total of 433 employees. Senator Watson also serves as managing partner of his law firm and oversees his family feed store and cattle operations in Central Texas.

Profile Picture of Senator Watson
Surrounded by friends and loved ones, Senator Murray poses for a photo
Senator Watson and family celebrate at the 2017 Baylor Lawyer of the Year Luncheon.

Senator Watson's community involvement is extensive, including service on the McLennan County College Foundation Board, Waco Chamber of Commerce, Historic Waco Foundation, Mart Community Center, Mart Lion's Club, Rotary Club of Waco, Mart Chapter of Order of the Eastern Star, Worthy Grand Patron of the Grand Chapter of Texas, OES, Baylor Masonic Lodge #1235 attaining 33rd Degree Honorary, as a member of the Board of Trustees for Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas, and Karem Shrine Temple. He is a longtime member of Austin Avenue United Methodist Church and has served in many church leadership roles.

Senator Watson is a life-long advocate of Baylor Law School and Baylor University. He is a Lifetime Member of the Baylor Law Alumni Association, a member of the Baylor Bear Foundation, and a member of the Baylor Founders Club. Under Senator Watson's leadership, the Brazos Higher Education Corporation established an endowed scholarship at Baylor Law School and The Hankamer School of Business.

He is married to Baylor alumna Greta Warren Watson, BS '59, who has been his greatest supporter throughout his career of public service. They are proud parents of two children, Missy Watson Larson, BS Ed. '85, MS Ed. '87, and Marcus Warren Watson, BBA '94, and two high school-aged grandchildren, Annika, who will attend Baylor in the fall, and Niklas Larson.

Open Photo Slideshow

About the Baylor Lawyer of the Year Award

The Baylor Lawyer of the Year Award is given annually to an outstanding alumnus/a who has brought honor and distinction to the Law School and to the legal profession. Recipients are selected based upon the following criteria:

  1. The nominee's legal ability and achievements as a lawyer;
  2. The nominee's contributions to the legal profession;
  3. The nominee's standing in the profession;
  4. The nominee's Christian character;
  5. The nominee's civic, religious and other attainments; and
  6. The nominee's active interest in Baylor Law School.

Past Recipients

2017 - Albert Witcher
2015 - Jerry K. Clements
2014 - Bill Brian
2013 - David M. Guinn
2012 - Judge Leonard E. Davis
2011 - Steve McConnico
2010 - Hon. Ed Kinkeade
2009 - George Chandler
2008 - Joe E. Coleman
2007 - Sam R. Cummings
2006 - Noley R. Bice, Jr.
2005 - Wyatt H. Heard
2004 - T. John Ward
2003 - Turner W. Branch
2002 - John Eddie Williams
2001 - Harold Nix
2000 - Louis Muldrow
1999 - Walter Umphrey
1998 - Gordon L. Hollon
1997 - James M. "Jim" Farris
1996 - Jack Hightower
1995 - John T. Boyd
1994 - Bob Bullock
1993 - Bill Logue
1992 - Rex Houston
1991 - Sam B. Hall, Jr.
1990 - Edwin P. Horner
1989 - George M. Cowden
1988 - William S. Sessions
1987 - R. Matt Dawson
1986 - Robert Maurice Campbell
1985 - Bill D. Daniel
1984 - Angus S. McSwain, Jr.
1983 - Wayne Fisher
1982 - Clarence A. Guittard
1981 - John H. Minton, Jr.
1980 - Cullen Smith
1979 - Howard F. Saunders
1978 - Connally McKay
1977 - William J. Boswell
1976 - Claude Williams
1975 - Gibson Gayle, Jr.
1974 - Jim D. Bowner
1973 - Truman E. Roberts
1972 - Charles W. Barrow
1971 - W.R. "Bob" Poage
1970 - Morris Harrell
1969 - Thomas C. Mann
1968 - Frank M. Wilson
1967 - Victor W. Bouldin
1966 - Abner V. McCall
1965 - M. Price Daniel
1964 - Leon Jaworski
1963 - A.J. Folley

To Nominate a Baylor Lawyer of the Year:

Baylor Law School will accept nominations for the 2018 Baylor Lawyer of the Year through December 1, 2017. The Executive Committee of the Baylor Law Alumni Association will review a resume and the first three letters received for each nominee.

To submit a nomination for the 2018 Baylor Lawyer of the Year, please send a nomination letter describing why the nominee meets the below criteria to:

Dean Brad Toben
Baylor Law School
One Bear Place #97288
Waco, Texas 76798

WRITTEN BY: Berkley Knas, Alumni Relations
CONTACT: berkley_knas@baylor.edu
PHOTOS BY: Robbie Rogers, Baylor University, and Nick Teixeira, Baylor Law School

Established in 1857, Baylor Law School was one of the first law schools in Texas and one of the first west of the Mississippi River. Today, the school has more than 7,400 living alumni. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Baylor Law School has a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. The Law School boasts two governors, members or former members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, two former directors of the FBI, U.S. ambassadors, federal judges, justices of the Texas Supreme Court and members of the Texas Legislature, among its notable alumni. In its law specialties rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked Baylor Law's trial advocacy program as #3 in the nation. Baylor Law School is also ranked #51 in the magazine's 2018 edition of "America's Best Graduate Schools." The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law as one of the "Best School for Practical Training," and #4 in the nation in its most recent "Best Law School Facilities" listing. The Business Insider places Baylor Law among the top 50 law schools in the nation. Baylor Law School received the 2015 American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award, making it only the third law school in the nation to be honored with the award since the award's inception in 1984.

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 D1 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big XII Conference. Learn more at baylor.edu

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