Capping it OffThere's no debating Glenn Capp's impact
is best described by the old phrase—a gentleman and a scholar," said
then-Baylor President Abner McCall in 1974. Even a cursory glance at
Dr. Glenn Capp's years at Baylor proves the truth of McCall's words.
Affectionately called "Prof" by his students, Capp was widely known at
Baylor for his involvement in debate. His impact on the program was so
powerful that both Baylor's debate team and high school tournament were
named for him. He directed the forensics program from 1934 to 1981,
coaching seven hundred debaters and attaining more than seven thousand
wins—even coaching former Texas governor Ann Willis Richards '54 and
judging future presidents Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon when they
were college debaters. But his work in debate is only part of the
legacy Capp left behind.
Born September 21, 1910, in Westminster, Texas, Capp grew up in
Shawnee, Oklahoma, and attended Oklahoma Baptist University, where he
obtained a BA degree. He received an LLB degree from Baylor in 1938,
and earned a master's degree from Northwestern University in 1948. Capp
joined the Baylor faculty in 1934, when the Department of Speech
Communications consisted of one full-time and one part-time professor
and had graduated fewer than four hundred students. When he retired in
1981, after almost forty-seven years, the speech faculty ranks had
swelled to twenty professors, and the department had graduated more
than four thousand students.
"He was a visionary. He built the communications department from the
ground up," said Karla Leeper, former head of the speech communications
department and current chief of staff to Baylor's president. As
department chair from 1948 to 1978, Capp expanded the department,
adding radio communication and aiding in the establishment of the
Castellaw Communications Center in 1974. "He saw the power of radio as
an important communication element," Leeper explained. His inception of
courses in radio evolved into the film and digital media program, and
his dedication to a strong base in public speaking led to corporate
communications classes in the speech department.
During his time at Baylor, Capp garnered a long list of honors. He was
past president of the Pi Kappa Delta national forensics organization
and the Southern States Communication Association, and in 1972 he was
given the Piper Professorship by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation of
San Antonio for having a profound effect on the lives of his students.
Capp cultivated strong relationships and served others both inside and outside of Baylor. In a 1970 interview with the Lariat
on his creation of a student senate in the speech communications
department, Capp argued, "Students ought to have more of a part in the
determining of departmental policies." Besides partnering with students
on academic issues, Capp ran for the Waco School Board in 1956 and took
part in establishing a speech and hearing program in Hillsboro in 1969.
In his last years at Baylor, Capp researched and wrote a chronology of
speech communication at the university, compiling the history of debate
before his time with his experiences directing the forensics program
and communication department.
Capp died at age eighty-eight on December 14, 1998, at his home in
Waco, yet his legacy still lives on at Baylor. "Almost as long as there
has been Baylor, there's been Baylor debate," Leeper said. And almost
as long as there's been Baylor debate, there has been Glenn Capp.