Alumna’s Gift Results in Major Campus Spruce-Up

June 14, 2012

Frances Tullis ’45 loved Mary Baldwin University.

construction at Grafton

So much so, that when she passed away in late 2010 at the age of 87, the Montgomery, Alabama, native left a sizable portion of her estate — nearly $1.2 million — to her alma mater, putting painters, electricians, and roofers to work this summer sprucing up the campus she once called home.

“The timing is ideal,” said Dan Layman, associate vice president of institutional advancement at Mary Baldwin. “We are enjoying a tremendous sense of momentum with the addition of the development of the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences and much more, and this generous bequest from Ms. Tullis extends this momentum to addressing many needs across our entire campus.”

Tullis recognized that Mary Baldwin had pressing needs unmet by its general budget, Layman said, so she directed the college to use her estate gift to meet those needs.

Thanks in large part to the Tullis bequest furniture and restrooms will be upgraded in Kable Residence Hall. Flooring and aging audio/visual equipment will be replaced in Francis Auditorium. Portions of Grafton Library, Wenger Hall, and the Student Activities Center will get new roofs. Crews are creating a new space for the college’s archives on the 100-level of the library. Porches, sidewalks, and stairs will be repaired. Surfaces will be painted. Parking lots will be repaved.

Due to funding from other sources, a new digital media classroom and language lab is being constructed in the library, and Hunt East and Hunt West, the Nuthouse, and the Hunt Gallery will soon be air conditioned.

“Mary Baldwin has an extensive amount of deferred maintenance,” said Brent Douglass, director of facilities management. “This is a wonderful opportunity to address those needs.”

Francis Tullis on Apple Day

Close friend Laura McLemore said Tullis remembered her days at Mary Baldwin lovingly, and that she and her classmates developed a lasting bond during those years at school — the World War II years — because, McLemore said “they felt fortunate to be there and be together. It put a lot of things in perspective.”

“Frances loved Mary Baldwin,” McLemore said. “Whenever she spoke about Mary Baldwin her eyes lit up, she remembered it so fondly.”

A sociology major, Tullis treasured her Mary Baldwin memorabilia and kept in close contact with her classmates for decades after returning to Alabama. Last fall, some of them gathered in Montgomery to celebrate Tullis’ life and generous gift to Mary Baldwin, and reminisced over stories and that memorabilia — her yearbooks, letters, photographs, and even Tullis’ cap and gown. Tullis, left, is pictured at Apple Day with a classmate.

It was a Tullis family tradition to contribute to both church and school. Her father, a decorated World War I veteran, gave generously to his alma mater, Sewanee: The University of the South. Before her passing, Tullis was an active supporter of the Humane Society, Montgomery Museum, the Episcopal Church of the Ascension, and the Junior League.