'MSC first lady' remembered
Colleagues speak to memory of Jane Bailey
Published: Friday, October 11, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 11, 2013 00:10
Jane Bailey, development specialist for the Memorial Student Center, died Monday after 28 years of dedication and work for Texas A&M.
Eric Blodgett, communications director for the MSC, said Bailey had a knack for connecting with students and maintained friendships with some students for years after they graduated.
“[Bailey] did her job very well because she was a very personable person — very graceful, very friendly,” Blodgett said. “She would make you feel like you were the center of the room — very good at giving people her undivided attention.”
Bailey retired about six months ago. While here, she was known as the “first lady of the MSC,” MSC President Will Brooke said, and was in charge of coordinating funding for the MSC, advising the development program and coordinating various student trips and seminars.
“[Bailey] really believed in what we do in the MSC and what we stand for with the leadership development of students,” Brooke said. “She was very passionate about that and passionate about her students and that showed.”
Blodgett said it was during the student trips that Bailey would connect students to former students.
“[Bailey] really helped students network and meet former students who could possibly help them further their careers or just be their friend,” he said.
Tyler Stewart, former MSC president and Class of 2013, said it was on a conference trip to Boston that he had a memorable conversation with Bailey. Stewart said he was given a certain amount of money for meals and was debating one night if he should buy an expensive dessert or not.
“I didn’t think I should get [the dessert] and [Bailey] said ‘What the heck? What are you doing?’ and I said I needed to make sure I had enough and she said ‘You’re in Boston. Get dessert every meal. Live life, this is your time,’” Stewart said. “She lived life everyday and wanted us to live every second of every day. It was a simple lesson but it stands out to me.”
Blodgett said many students saw Bailey as a motherly figure because she was able to challenge them to develop as leaders, nurturing them all the while.
“Some of the students called her “momma Jane” because she helped them,” Blodgett said. “She would listen to them, pay attention to them, be a friend when they needed a friend and give them advice on whatever. She was willing to help them in any way she could.”
Bradford Stricklin, vice president of development for the MSC and junior mechanical engineering major, said Bailey was honest and funny.
“[Bailey] would speak her mind and didn’t worry what other people thought — she was a big believer in being straightforward,” Stricklin said. “She didn’t like being called Mrs. Bailey. She’d say ‘That’s my mother-in-law and she’s dead.’ It’s difficult to describe Jane. I don’t think I can do her justice.”
During the MSC renovation, Blodgett said former students pooled their own funds to honor Bailey by naming an MSC programs office conference room after her.
“It was a group of students who just wanted to let her know how much she meant to them and how much she had helped them while they were here in the MSC and at Texas A&M,” Blodgett said.
Brooke said Bailey was viewed as more than just an employee of Texas A&M in the MSC. He said her passion to push students to “live up to their caliber of potential” reached many people who attribute many of their successes to her.
“If [Bailey] knew they weren’t living up to their potential, she would push and challenge them,” Brooke said. “Many students have come back to the MSC and to Jane to say they wouldn’t be where they are today without her guidance and motivation and passion.”
Bailey was a one-of-a-kind, Stewart said. He said she was humble and could be a right-hand man for everyone who knew her.
“Jane Bailey is one of those people that, without meaning to or trying to, will leave an impact on every person she met,” Stewart said. “I feel like her goal was never to be that kind of a mentor, but she just was.”