Baylor Alumnus and Benefactor, Judge Hightower, Receives TLA Award

April 9, 2014

Jack English Hightower, BA ’49, LLB ’51, has been selected posthumously for the Texas Library Association (TLA) Outstanding Services to Libraries Award. He will be recognized Wednesday, April 9, in San Antonio at the TLA Annual Conference.

Judge Hightower died in Austin, Texas on Aug. 3, 2013, at age 86.

The award recognizes outstanding lay advocacy. Qualifications include advancement of library services, development and promotion of sound library policies and standards, successful advocacy of the library to the community, a significant contribution to the promotion of library legislation and active participation in TLA. Previous recipients include First Lady Laura Bush, Lt. Gov. Bob Bullock, Representative Terry Keel and The San Antonio Light.

The former State Representative, State Senator, U.S. Congressman and Texas Supreme Court Justice lived a life of public service. In 1999, President Bill Clinton appointed Judge Hightower to the National Commission on Libraries and Information Science where he was Commissioner until 2005.

Judge Hightower and his wife Colleen served for several years on the Baylor University Libraries' Board of Advisors, which he also chaired. He was a Baylor trustee from 1972-1981 and served on the Boards of Midwestern University and Wayland Baptist University. He was the founding president of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society.

Beginning in 1985, Judge Hightower began depositing his political and personal papers in the Baylor Collections of Political Materials. The materials document his terms as a Texas Senator (1964-1975), United States Representative (1975-1984), First Assistant Attorney General of Texas (1985-1987) and Texas Supreme Court Justice (1988-1996). His collection also includes numerous other Texas and U.S. history items.

Judge Hightower's personal and official papers reside in the Jack E. Hightower Collection at Baylor's W.R. Poage Legislative Library, a special collections library and research facility that collects congressional records and personal papers related to political history.

The Jack Hightower Book Vault in Poage, constructed in 2006, houses Hightower's collection of more than 3,000 autographed copies of books. The collection also includes an extensive assortment of presidential books, the largest of which centers on the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, who was Hightower's hero.

Judge Hightower developed a love of libraries, books and history as a young child. That love deepened during his school days and grew through his university and law school years while working at The Texas Collection, a library that collects, preserves and provides access to materials on the history, heritage and culture of Texas on the Baylor campus. Libraries became a lifelong passion of Judge Hightower’s that manifested itself in his involvement through personal, professional and public service.