Champions of HBU: Clay Porter

In 1962, I was with my mother in her 1956 black and white Chevrolet Bel Air  station wagon (with three on the tree) on our way to check out Houston’s newest and first air conditioned mall, Sharpstown Center.  We left Robindell neighborhood and traveled down Beechnut, passing the A&P grocery store, McMahon Drugs, Wackers Five and Dime, and the Washateria. We were about half way to the mall when we passed a construction site.  My mother pointed to a sign and said, “Look, they are getting ready to open a Baptist College soon, maybe you’ll go there.”  The unenthusiastic reply from me, a grumpy six year old, “I’m never leaving home.”

I first stepped foot on campus via bicycle in 1969 to play basketball in Sharp Gym with my neighborhood friends. I would later return via auto in 1974 for high school basketball practice with the Sharpstown Apollos. Our court had some issues and our coach was the brother of HBU Basketball coach Lonnie Richards, who with his white pants, white dress shoes and a dab of Brylcream, let us practice there. He also invited our team to come out and watch some games.

The events were well attended by the students, and we saw some really good basketball games and players. Our favorite was Robert “Babyface” Page, who later went on to play for the Harlem Globetrotters.

In Sharp, there was a stage on one end of the gym that was about six feet away from the court. During Husky basketball games, you couldn’t help but notice a man sitting in a wingback chair on the very edge of the stage who seemed to use his proximity to the court to give the referees a hard time. I found out he was the president of the school, Dr. William H. Hinton.

I returned to campus in April of 1985 and interviewed with Dr. Joan DeRooy and Dr. Gerda Smith for a position with Advancement/Professional Development.  My good friend Isaac Simpson had called me earlier in the week to inform me of an opening he thought I might be interested in. I was hired and he and I would work together for the next 29 years.

During that time we were broadcasting an MBA degree and I worked with some outstanding faculty members from the College of Business. Rusty Brooks, George Flowers, Robert Bush and Darlene and Tony Serrato were a few of the great people I met.

Robert Beauchamp, currently chairman of the board of directors of BMC Software, was one of our MBA students via television. Our sons played baseball together in Sugar Land. BMC Software would later donate a broadcast switcher to the TV Studio – an amazing gift for the students and the program.

As an adjunct professor in Mass Communications, I had the opportunity to work with some very creative students with great personalities. I always enjoyed my time  spent working with them, even and after a phone call and a long conversation with the FBI asking about  “suspicious characters claiming to be my students” recording in streets of Rice Village.  I still keep up with those graduates through the HBU Alumni Association and Facebook.

In 2011, thanks to Dr. Sloan, Steve Moniachi and others, we were welcomed back into the NCAA. Truly exciting. The possibility of football on campus began to float around the rumor mill. I was certainly in favor of it and would fuel the fire whenever possible. One day I received a call from Sharon Saunders with a request to stop by her office. Our departments had continuously crossed paths over the decades so this was not unusual. I stopped by her office and she said, “Dr. Sloan would like to speak with you.”  That was unusual.  He and Mrs. Sloan always stopped and spoke on campus, but I had never been called into his office. As we crossed the doorway, Dr. Sloan was standing and tossed something to me. I caught it and saw it was a little plastic souvenir football with “HBU” printed on it. I looked up and said, “Really?”  he was smiling and said, “That’s right!”

Now to hear Sharon Saunders tell the story, I needed a Kleenex to wipe away the tears…I don’t exactly recall that…but it was truly a very special moment for me, and more importantly, a big step for the University.

Over the 4.5 dog years I’ve been with HBU, I have had the opportunity to meet some really wonderful people. The interesting thing is, you could pull faculty, staff and students from any decade and plug them into another and not see a change in caring and commitment – a very special family.

If you have not had the opportunity to read our 12 year vision statement, “Ten Pillars: Faith &  Reason in a Great City” check it out at HBU.edu/TenPillars.

Pillar Six is very special to me: “Renew our Campus, Renew our Community.” Our campus is truly the icon of Southwest Houston. The Hinton Center, The Joella and Stewart Morris Cultural Arts Center, The Sadie and Doug Hodo Residence College, the University Academic Center, Husky Stadium, The Belin Tower, and currently, thanks to Dr. Sloan, Sandy Mooney and her team, The Pillars shopping development are all beautiful structures that stand out and signify economic growth. Our campus and its architecture is spurring the razing and rebuilding of nearby homes built in the 50s. It is exciting to see the advancement and redevelopment for our students and for the surrounding community in an area that will always be my home.

 

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