Pioneering the Computer Age
Helen Ligon led the integration of the first computer at Baylor, shaping the curriculum and earning recognition.
By Justin Walker
Professor of Information Systems
As the Hankamer Building began construction in the late 1950s, its finished product was considered high-tech for its time. Earl Hankamer wished to model the building after a mid-twentieth-century bank with a professional feel and opportunities for technological growth.
In 1962, that growth came. Carl Casey, a Baylor trustee and businessman, provided a gift that allowed the Hankamer School of Business to make a historic purchase for the University: a computer. But not just any computer—an IBM 1620 Data Processing System.
The device was the first computer on Baylor’s campus, and not many other universities had one, either. Fortunately, the Hankamer School of Business had the perfect person to help usher in the computer age.
Helen Ligon joined the faculty at the Business School in 1958, teaching shorthand, report writing and letter writing. In 1962, Ligon was chosen to receive specialized training from IBM to help operate the new computer. While a significant shift from her prior experience, Ligon began to see the benefits of the computer to the Business School and the University.
Ligon became the first director of the Casey Computer Center in 1962 and enrolled at Texas A&M University in 1967 to earn a PhD in Information Systems. She became the first woman to graduate from the program in 1976, and returned to her associate professor position at Baylor full time.
In addition to leading the University into a new age, Ligon is also credited with helping shape the Management Information Systems program at the Business School. She was loved by students, earning multiple Most Popular Business Professor awards. At the fall 1998 graduate commencement, Ligon received a special Tribute for Meritorious Service from then-President Robert B. Sloan, Jr.
Ligon passed away on Aug. 22, 2003, after 45 years of service to the Business School.