Wayland to dedicate honors dorm to former faculty member

Many years have passed since Dr. Dorothy McCoy has stood in front of a blackboard with chalk in hand, imparting pearls of mathematical wisdom to students. But her influence and devotion to Wayland Baptist University has never wavered.

Wayland honored McCoy, who retired in 1975 after 26 years at WBU, by dedicating an honors dormitory in her name in a. ceremony at the facility. Dorothy McCoy Hall is located at 7th and Borger Streets in Plainview, just a few blocks from the campus.

According to university officials, the naming was simply a way to pay homage to someone who had made such an impact on students' lives.

"She's one of those people who is the real cornerstone of a place," said Dr. Bill Hardage, vice chancellor at Wayland who was a student here during McCoy's teaching days.

"She's done so much for so many, and we just wanted to honor her for all she's done."

Dr. Wallace E. Davis, Jr., the university's chancellor, echoed Hardage's sentiments, adding one of his favorite memories.

"The first meeting of the Wayland family the year I came, I was asked to speak and Dr. McCoy was there. She wanted to see what this new fellow would be like and she told me she'd be watching me," Davis recalled.

"She gave me a report card at the end of the year and I got an A for my speech in chapel, an A+ for using Dr. Hardage's leadership and a B for gluing a piece of formica in place at Fleming-Mays Tower."

Davis said in the ten years he's been at Wayland - though McCoy was already well into retirement when he came - the former math professor has dropped him several more notes of encouragement.

"She has been an absolute delight and reflects what I think are those things that are best about Wayland - a commitment to academics and a love for students," he said.

McCoy may have left Wayland's employ 26 years ago, but her contributions still live on. For many years, she'd take regular walks across the campus from her home adjacent to Fleming-Mays women's dormitory, keeping an eye on the changes that have taken places over the decades. She also remains involved with students through a missions interest group she coordinates at First Baptist Church and attends university events from time to time.

To McCoy, Wayland was not just another stop on the academic career ladder. It became home.

"When I came, I came to stay," she said.

"For many years while I was teaching, I'd keep an up-to-date file at Iowa State, but academically, nothing else really appealed to me. I wasn't doing any publishing, and to make an academic move, I'd need that."

Her first priority was teaching students, sharing her passion for mathematics that she developed at an early age. Born in Oklahoma territory, McCoy grew up in Chesapeake, Missouri and attended a one-room school with her younger brother, Neal. The pair attended Baylor University for their undergraduate degrees and to Iowa State University for graduate work.

While her younger brother became a math professor at Smith College, McCoy started her teaching career at Belhaven College in Jackson, Miss., a small Presbyterian school where she served as sponsor for the Baptist Student Union. At the urging of a guest speaker at Belhaven, who was a friend of then-Wayland president Dr. Bill Marshall, McCoy first considered the Baptist college as her next possible employer.

"He said they were needing PhDs at Wayland and suggested I apply there," she recalls. "Part of my interest was the pull of a Baptist school. I came out to visit a year before I came for the job. But they were too slow in offering me a position and I'd already signed a contract with Belhaven that I wouldn't break. I came a year later."

When she finally came on board, she lived in female student housing, which was then located on the third floor of Gates Hall. She then had an apartment over what is now the alumni house before buying a lot from the university and building her own home in 1965. She still lives there. From early in her career at Wayland, McCoy said she felt needed and began to pour her life into the students, in and out of the classroom.

"Whatever I did, I wanted it to be connected with students," she said, recalling visits with international students who were studying at Wayland.

After retiring, McCoy said sitting still was not in her plans. Nearly immediately, she realized a long-time dream of mission work by taking a six-month stint in Malawi, Africa, teaching missionary children. After a year back in Plainview, she traveled to Indonesia to work at a school for missionary children for three months.

That love of missions eventually bloomed into a mission interest group which she started with a local missionary who was home on furlough. The group met in her home before finding its permanent location at First Baptist Church. She still coordinates publicity and speakers for the events. McCoy, who was given the title Distinguished Professor Emeritus in Mathematics upon retirement, is humble about her contributions to the school, and gives only a slight smile when the naming of the dorm is mentioned.

"I was very pleased to have been remembered favorably," she said with little ado. "They can honor me if they want to. I appreciate being appreciated."

McCoy received the Distinguished Lifetime Service Award in 1999 from the Association of Former Students. She also had a bust created by former WBU art teacher Bob Dunaway presented to her at a Board of Trustees meeting in March 2000. The bust is on display in the Mabee Learning Resources Center, near the Abraham Art Gallery.