Photo by: Henoc Kivuye
Oklahoma Christian University has seen many changes over the past 50 years, but one constant has been the presence of Professor of English Bailey McBride.
McBride has studied at many distinguished academic institutions, such as Lipscomb, the University of Oklahoma and Vanderbilt. All of his children and their spouses have graduated from Oklahoma Christian.
McBride has been a part of the Oklahoma Christian family since it was known as Central Christian College and was located in Bartlesville. McBride was an involved student on campus at Central Christian College.
Joan Sikes, a close friend of McBride’s, was on the yearbook staff with McBride during the 1952-1953 school year.
“We worked on the annual together, and [McBride] always had such good things to say about the annual and working with me,” Sikes said. “It was really the other way around. I felt that Bailey had all the things that we needed to make the annual. He seemed like he was just a natural, I appreciated his help so much. There were many times that I would not have gotten through it without Bailey’s help.”
McBride later transferred to Lipscomb University, where he graduated in 1956.
“I had great teachers…but after two years I transferred to Lipscomb in Nashville,” McBride said. “At Lipscomb, I majored in English and minored in history, and I finished in a year and a half. At the end of that time Dr. Baird, who had become president of the institution, called me and said I should go back to graduate school and come teach at Central Christian.”
McBride did just that. He studied at the University of Tennessee and started work the fall of 1956 at Central Christian as the only full-time English teacher; he taught there for two years.
“I loved the students, I loved the work, and I enjoyed the classes,” McBride said. “I decided that if I were to try to commute to Norman to complete my doctorate, it wouldn’t be good for me. We didn’t have I-35 at that time or any Interstate, so it was a slow road. I moved back to Tennessee, completed my master’s and then started course work on my doctorate.”
He went on to teach at the University of Tennessee for four years, and at the end of that time he had a fellowship that gave him one year to work on his dissertation. He proceeded to apply to 21 schools, received 19 different offers, and decided to go to the University of New Mexico.
“I liked the teaching there; I liked the course load and the people,” McBride said. “We moved to New Mexico and I was teaching there very happily until Dr. North, who was the Dean at Oklahoma Christian, called me and asked me to come.”
McBride took a leave of absence from the University of New Mexico and came to teach at Oklahoma Christian.
“I had such great students, and I decided it would be fun to stay here,” McBride said. “I taught for one year and midway through my second year, I resigned from the University of New Mexico and stayed here.”
McBride was the Chair of the Department of Language and Literature until 1972 when he became the Associate Dean of Instruction. In that role, he developed eight new majors, including mass communication and physics.
During his many years working with Oklahoma Christian, McBride has seen many significant changes, such as enrollment increases.
“The first year when I taught in 1966, the enrollment was expected to be 550 and it was slightly over 600,” McBride said. “I have seen the enrollment gradually grow. The year I began to teach, Hardeman Auditorium had just opened its doors. When I started working here there were 17 faculty members.”
According to McBride, the students at Oklahoma Christian have contributed greatly to his enjoyment of teaching.
“People sometimes ask me to compare freshmen now and freshmen when I first came to teach here,” McBride said. “…We have really had such great students, which made it very appealing to stay and work here. We still have a large number of very talented students. Fifteen-20 percent of our students would actually be in the top tier of students in the country, which makes teaching here fun.”