As many Lumberjacks have been remembering and celebrating the life of former SFA President Dr. Baker Pattillo, I have been reflecting upon his impact regarding my own life.

I recall 40 years ago, when I was a student and Dr. Pattillo was dean of student services, having a late-night meeting in the student government office with several friends, including Doug Duke. That night, Doug made a prophetic statement: “Just wait and see. One day, Dr. Pattillo will be SFA’s president.”

As a head resident and housing employee, I had the opportunity to interact with Dr. Pattillo — when his secretary would let me. He always listened, offered good advice and shared words of encouragement.

Through the years, including during my tenure on the alumni association’s board, Dr. Pattillo loved and supported the alumni association. Not only did he endorse our class ring program, but he also agreed to take part in every Big Dip ring ceremony by shaking the hand of every person who took the plunge into the purple goo, and he also shared with attendees what his SFA ring meant to him.

Each year on a specific Saturday morning, he would wake early to come and spend time with alumni who were celebrating their 50th graduation anniversary during the Golden Jacks Breakfast.

Additionally, he served as an ambassador and promoted the university during other alumni-related events, including presenting the axes and plaques to honored recipients during the association’s Alumni Awards dinner, riding in the Homecoming Parade and crowning the king and queen during halftime, and traveling miles to attend regional alumni events.

Through his leadership, the university reached many milestones, including the recent record-breaking 13,144 fall enrollment and celebrating the university’s 95th anniversary in September. His vision was integral in completing myriad construction projects, including the fall opening of the state-of-the-art Cole STEM Building.

Fifty-two years is an amazing span of time to remain employed at one institution and stay energized and focused, but his love for SFA kept him motivated. He was never satisfied with the way things were. Instead, Dr. Pattillo was always looking for the next challenge and target. There is much to be learned from the legacy of Baker Pattillo. He has left us a high bar to clear.

As we remember him and his many contributions to SFA, we also must look toward the future and how to best rally our more than 100,000 living alumni and strategize regarding how to assist in planning the university’s 100th anniversary.

This is an exciting time to be a part of what’s happening at SFA. We make it easy to be part of the action. It doesn’t matter where you live — we need ambassadors to help spread SFA spirit and join the alumni association leadership team. If you’re interested, reach out to alumni association staff members for more information. Also, be sure to view the alumni calendar, located in each issue of Sawdust, which details events in your area. We look forward to seeing you at the next one near you.

Additionally, I would like to share that it’s time to start soliciting nominations and selecting the recipients of our annual Alumni Awards. If you know an alum who has made a mark in his or her profession, shows amazing Lumberjack spirit or has done something exceptional for society, please take a moment to contact the alumni association or visit its website and complete the nomination form.

One final request, the alumni association has embarked on a project to survey alumni concerning how we can best reach, connect and provide great service and experiences. Please take a few moments to review and respond to the survey, which will be sent via email. Thank you for all you do in helping SFA be the best it can be.

Axe ’em, Jacks!

francis signature

Bob Francis ’78 - Bullard
President, SFA Alumni Association