Baylor Magazine Article

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The Legacy of Scott and Susan Wilson
John Shearer '78

As a parent of multiple Baylor students, Julie Garrett has become used to attending numerous Baylor sports and extracurricular events, sometimes in the same day. And she has noticed that on such occasions, she has usually seen someone else at all of them, too — Scott Wilson ’75.

“I tell Scott, ‘Every place I show up, you are also there,’” joked Garrett, who served as president of the Baylor Parent Alliance from 2019-2021 and who has also served on the school’s Board of Trustees. “He does not miss a beat.”

After 12 years of leading – and nearly a lifetime of vocally supporting – Baylor, Wilson retired this summer as the school’s headmaster. It is a moment that he admitted comes with a tinge of sadness, but also with a sense of great fulfillment. “A lot has happened in 12 years,” he said. “It’s been a full, rich time. I’ve been so honored to serve the school. I am not sure I’ll ever get over that. It has been just an amazing privilege.”

This satisfying connection actually began when he was a wide-eyed seventh grader at Baylor in the fall of 1969 when the school was still military and all boys. It continued after he returned to Baylor to work in the admissions office in 1981 after college, when he enjoyed another nine years on the hill during the time Baylor became coed. Then he left for Hammond School in South Carolina to work in administration.

A lot has happened in 12 years. It’s been a full, rich time. I’ve been so honored to serve the school. I am not sure I’ll ever get over that. It has been just an amazing privilege.

After later leading two independent preparatory schools in Georgia, Valwood in Valdosta and Brookstone in Columbus, he returned to Baylor as president and headmaster in 2009 with a wiser and more confident set of eyes, but with the same appreciation for Baylor’s core values of excellence and honor, attributes that have changed as little since the school’s founding as has the view of the surrounding scenic river and mountains.

Wilson mused, “It’s been a privilege for me to be here. It has been the proudest accomplishment of my career. It’s been a real labor of love.”

While Wilson is proud of the academic accomplishments, healthy enrollment, building and campus-enhancement projects, financial stability, and winning sports teams that have been a part of his tenure, it has been the relationships he has enjoyed the most. In fact, he got a little emotional thinking of one such example during a senior trip of recent years when rain put a damper on many of the anticipated activities, but it did not dampen the enthusiasm of the students. “I was amazed at their attitude and how they took care of each other and kept their spirits up,” he said. That trip concluded with the students putting their arms around each other on the last night and singing one of the most touching renditions of the Baylor Alma Mater he has ever heard.

Scott has left a great legacy of school spirit and has found the best in everyone and tries to pull out that last ounce of greatness that is in everyone.

Baylor Board of Trustees chairman, Ryan Crimmins ’78, said making the Alma Mater an even more important part of Baylor’s tradition will be one of Wilson’s great legacies, along with getting the school to embrace the magnanimitas motto of “greatness of spirit.” “Scott has left a great legacy of school spirit and has found the best in everyone and tries to pull out that last ounce of greatness that is in everyone,” he said, adding that this positive encouragement has also resulted in a good rapport among the students.

Garrett and Kelly Nation, another longtime parent volunteer, agree Wilson has also successfully led the school by showing obvious compassion and caring toward the students, as has his wife, Susan. “Both Scott and Susan have almost served as surrogate parents to the student boarders,” said Garrett. “And Susan is like a mom to the girls.”

Nation, who has also worked with the Parent Alliance and as a member of the Board of Trustees, knew the Wilsons well even before they came to Baylor, and she has always admired him as well as Susan. “Scott is all about the students,” she said. “That is what matters the most. And the kids adore him.”

Both Garrett and Nation also pointed out other traits they have observed, such as living out his Christian faith in his caring and thoughtful actions. That faith has been particularly demonstrated in how he dealt with both his and daughter Georgia’s ’14 cancer diagnoses in the past couple of years. “He never stops,” said Garrett.

Scott is all about the students,” she said. “That is what matters the most. And the kids adore him.

They also praised Susan Wilson’s contributions as well, using as an example how she, as an avid bird watcher, has taken a young student (click here for the story about birder Luke Thompson ’24) highly interested in the avocation on excursions. Scott was also quick to praise Susan’s support in helping him have such a rewarding tenure. “My wife has been the linchpin in all this. She has been amazing,” he said. In early May as a show of appreciation to both Wilsons, Baylor dedicated its new outdoor recreation pool in their honor.

While Wilson admitted that he became a little sentimental during his last few weeks before retirement, he added that he hopes to stay involved in Baylor by helping new head Chris Angel ’89 in his transition and in any other ways if called upon. He is quite grateful for the privilege of serving Baylor for the last 12 years, he added, and will not soon forget the experience. “I love the place. It sure changed my life,” he said.

Baylor has benefited from many positive accomplishments during the 12- year tenure of Scott Wilson ’75 as the school’s ninth headmaster. Among the highlights have been:

  • Elevating the quality and accomplishments of the academic program from the Learning Center to Baylor Research.

  • Increasing students’ standardized test scores and improving college admission records have reflected the overall advancement of the academic program.

  • Sustaining and building upon Baylor’s legacy of athletic excellence including more than 85 state championships prior to the 2021 spring sports seasons and national recognition in baseball, crew, softball, swimming, girls’ tennis, volleyball, and wrestling.

  • Increasing the endowment by more than 130% through a combination of gifts and investment growth.

  • Growing The Baylor Fund from 3% to 6% of the operating budget.

  • Investing more than $75 million in the campus and facilities. New facilities have included the Scotty Probasco Academic Center, the Bullard Quadrangle, and renovations to the Guerry Dining Hall, Hedges Library, and many dormitories.

  • Increasing the school’s assets by making the debt ratio one of the strongest among independent schools in the country.

  • Managing tuition so that families have incurred manageable increases for the past decade-plus.

  • Balancing the budget for 12 consecutive years.

  • Keeping the school open in 2020-2021 despite the pandemic.

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