SMU Daily Campus
Originally Posted: September 28, 2015
Walking into McFarlin Auditorium Thursday morning brought back several fond memories for Dr. Phillip Williams, neurosurgeon and member of the SMU Class of 1959. Nearly half a century ago, he walked up those same steps on his graduation day, and now he returned for SMU’s Centennial Commemoration.
“Every aspect of the event was memorable,” said Williams.
Williams was just one of hundreds of alumni who traveled back to SMU this weekend to celebrate SMU’s 100th birthday. For months, the Office of Development and Student Affairs as well as Student Foundation have planned a busy schedule for the weekend. The alumni schedule included events such as tours and reunions, allowing alumni to reconnect with their fellow alumni as well as see how SMU has grown over the years.
Amidst all the years, Williams attested that the expansions on the campus are the biggest change.
“Every time I see Bush library, I feel semi-responsible,” said Williams.
Back when Bush was running for governor, Williams spoke to former chairman of SMU Board of Trustees Ray Hunt about Bush’s potential career.
“I told Ray Hunt that Bush may be elected governor and then be nominated and then become president,” said William. “I told Hunt now wouldn’t that be great for SMU to get his presidential library here.” Nearly a decade after, William’s vision came true.
Not only did visiting campus bring back memories, but the different events that SMU hosted for alumni’s also spoke to William’s SMU experience. William attended the author signing of “The Man in the Red Tie,” a biography of the late SMU professor Dr. Harold Jeskey. Dr. Jeskey taught Williams Organic Chemistry during his time at SMU. The book spawned several memories of his time at SMU.
“Dr. Jeskey was by far the best teacher,” said Williams. “He made the class come alive.” While Williams spoke to the quality of Jeskey’s teaching, he did not doubt the difficulty of the course. “He only wore a red and black tie. The only days he would wear the black tie was to a funeral or to quiz days,” said Williams.
If students survived Dr. Jeskey’s class and continued into medical school, Dr. Jeskey remained a continual support in the students’ lives. When his former students graduated medical school, he would then attend the ceremony and present a red tie as congratulation, according to Williams.
In addition to speaking highly of noteworthy teachers, Williams fondly recalled his involvement on campus. Nominated by his fraternity as their first-year class president, Williams campaigned by selling pig dissection manuals to sorority row, allowing girls to study for the exam without actually performing the dissection. Williams then won the campaign with the slogan “Vote for Phil Williams, the Fetal Pig Salesman.”
While SMU formed several memories for Williams, the school also prepared him for several life experiences after graduation as well. Williams interned at Parkland during the JFK assassination in 1963. While Williams did not actually enter Kennedy’s room, he was present in the trauma unit throughout the night, and he even consoled Jackie Kennedy outside of the emergency room. Williams then tended to Lee Oswald a few days later when he was shot and taken to Parkland.
Despite being a man of many experiences, Williams focused on the Homecoming events for this weekend and reconnecting his alma mater with his wife. READ MORE