Baylor Alumni, Library Benefactors Receive Texas Library Association Awards

  • (L to R) - Kathy R. Hillman, associate professor and director of Baptist collections and library advancement at Baylor; Tim Logan, associate vice president for Electronic Library; Ella Prichard, recipient of TLA's 2014 Benefactor Award; Robert Darden, associate professor of journalism, public relations and new media; and Pattie Orr, dean of University Libraries and vice president for information technology. (Courtesy photo)
  • (L to R) - Alison Suttle, BSEd '82, daughter of Judge Jack Hightower; Amy Brees, BSEd '79, daughter of Judge Jack Hightower; Pattie Orr, dean of Baylor University Libraries and vice president for information technology; and Ben Rogers, director of Poage Legislative Library. (Courtesy photo)
April 9, 2014

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Contact: Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275

WACO, Texas (April 9, 2014) – Two Baylor University alumni – the late Judge Jack English Hightower, BA ’49, LLB ’51, and Ella Wall Prichard, a 1963 Baylor graduate and former member of the Baylor Board of Regents – were honored April 9 at the Texas Library Association (TLA) Annual Conference in San Antonio. Judge Hightower was selected posthumously for Outstanding Services to Libraries Award, while Prichard received the Benefactor Award.

Judge Hightower’s 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, State Rep. Terry Keel of Austin and The San Antonio Light.

Judge Hightower was a former State Representative, State Senator, U.S. Congressman and Texas Supreme Court Justice, who lived a life of public service. In 1999, President Bill Clinton appointed him 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), U.S. 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.

Built in 2006, the Jack Hightower Book Vault at Poage Library 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. Judge Hightower died in Austin on Aug. 3, 2013, at age 86.

Prichard’s award recognizes substantial gifts that inspire and increase library support. Prichard and her late husband, Baylor Alumnus Honoris Causa Lev H. Prichard III, have actively supported the Baylor University Libraries and their local public library for many years. Their generous donations have had a transformational effect on the libraries and caused others to join their efforts.

The Prichards established the Lev H. Prichard III Traditional Black Music Restoration Endowed Fund to help the libraries restore and preserve music. In 1966, Prichard and her husband established the Pruit Memorial Symposium Endowment Fund in memory of Helen Pruit Matthews and her brothers, Dr. Lee Tinkle Pruit and William Wall Pruit. The Symposium brings the perspective of Christian intellectual tradition on contemporary issues of common concern. The 2013 Pruit Symposium “Marching to Zion: Celebrating and Preserving Black Sacred Music” focused on the religious, political and cultural contributions of gospel music, highlighting the Libraries’ project.

The Prichards funded several Baylor Library renovations, including the Prichard Quiet Study Commons and Lev’s Gathering Place. The Study Commons in Moody Memorial Library provides a large space that offers computer capabilities and 24-hour quiet for individual study. Lev’s Gathering Place within Crouch Fine Arts Library of Moody Memorial Library allows individual study and serves as a focal point for the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project.

In addition to supporting the Library, the Prichards have endowed scholarships at Baylor for student athletes, journalism majors, students at George W. Truett Theological Seminary and students from Nueces County. They have supported Baylor Athletics and McLane Stadium, as well as the Castellaw Communications Center. In 1998, they established the Prichard Family Foundation to support Baptists, Baylor University and institutions in Corpus Christi, Texas.


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 15,000 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 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


The Baylor University Libraries support excellence in teaching and learning, enhance research and discovery, and foster scholarship and success. Through its Central Libraries and special collections – Armstrong Browning Library, W.R. Poage Legislative Library and The Texas Collection – the Libraries serve as academic life centers that provide scholarly resources and technological innovation for the Baylor community and beyond.

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