Bailey welcomes students and families at President’s Mansion


Adrienne Burch

As students and their families crossed the threshold into the President’s Mansion on Friday afternoon, they were greeted by an unfamiliar yet friendly face.

“I didn’t expect him to be here,” Lauren Baumili, a freshman majoring in nursing, said. “I would have worn something other than a T-shirt.”

Guy Bailey, the new University of Alabama president, welcomed students and their families into his home on Friday as part of Parents’ Weekend, and he was there to greet them at his front door. As he shook parents’ hands, he looked students in the eye and reminded them he was in their shoes nearly 40 years ago.

Visitors were able to roam the first two floors of the mansion, examining many of the historic pieces of furniture and artwork. These bottom floors belong to the University, while Bailey and his wife live primarily in the third floor apartment area.

“Families are able to see how generous he is by him letting them into his home,” freshman Tabitha Greene said.

Greene’s mother, Teresa Greene, said Bailey’s invitation into his home shows he is open to people and willing to personally speak with them.

Bailey, former president of Texas Tech, was chosen to be the 37th president of the Capstone in mid-July and began his term on Tuesday, Sept. 4.

Bailey attended the University from 1968 until 1974, earning his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English. He said his first few weeks back at Alabama have been like a dream come true.

“The people are just as nice as I remember,” Bailey said. “I couldn’t be back here at a better time. This is a golden age at the University of Alabama.”

Bailey made a point to speak to every person who walked through the door. He asked parents about their children – where they are from and what they are majoring in.

“I love to meet the parents,” Bailey said. “They are the lifeblood of the University. They are the University.”

The President’s Mansion open house is traditionally held on family weekends and graduation weekend, Ray Taylor, assistant director of special events, said.

Mary Diaz, special assistant to the president, said this event has become a tradition to honor and welcome families to the campus.

Bailey has chosen to make his permanent residence in the mansion, placing himself at the center of campus, unlike his predecessor, Robert Witt. He was quick to tell students about his open-door policy and told them to expect to see him about campus.

Joan Horton, mother of Lauren Baumli, said she feels it is important Bailey has chosen to live in the mansion.

“This house is amazing, and it is great that by living here, he is surrounding himself with the students and faculty,” Horton said.

Additionally, University Capstone Men and Women were placed around the house in different rooms to share the rich history of the mansion with visitors and answer questions. Sophomore Marcus Gibson, who is involved in Capstone Men, said he spoke with a lot of out-of-state parents, which he thought showed that the University is still doing great job with recruiting students from around the country.

“I think parents are reacting well,” Gibson said. “When your president is willing to open up his home and personally talk with parents and students, it shows we are taking steps in the right direction.”