Many of us can think of that special teacher or mentor who helped shape or impacted our lives in a special way. For countless students in political science or pre-law at Missouri State University, that person was Dr. Alice Bartee. The school’s political science department recently established an endowment to honor her legacy and mission with a speaker series. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann has the story.
Teacher, advisor, faculty, author, and mentor are just a few words that are often used to describe Dr. Alice Bartee. During her lengthy career at Missouri State University, she positively impacted and influenced countless students. Dr. George Connor, head of the political science department at MSU, says the best way to honor her memory and legacy is through this endowment. He says it will continually expose students to the areas she was passionate about.
"You can’t look at the three books that Alice wrote, especially the last book, Privacy Rights, without recognizing her passion for civil liberties. And we’ll bring in speakers who will talk about those things. I think that’s the best way to enhance and extend the legacy of Alice here at the department, and the university,” says Connor.
Connor says Bartee was very influential to him when he became a junior faculty member, especially with being a better advisor. He says she had a reputation for being exceptional, and was a caring teacher and advisor.
“I think the most important thing to recognize about Alice is that she taught at Missouri State for 35 years. I mean, that’s a major achievement for most faculty members. But in those 35 years, Alice probably had a greater impact on political science and pre-law students than any other faculty member at the university,” Connor says.
Students across the state and other parts of the Midwest, many now successful lawyers like Steven Bough, fondly remember the impact Dr. Bartee had on them.
“What I remember is that she always required us to really step up in her classes, but she really encouraged us to do our best. And she had students work together in small groups to accomplish tasks, and she required to do extensive reading and her tests were always difficult. But people just lined up to get into her courses because they were so exciting and so fun,” Bough says.
Bough says that although Bartee wasn’t his advisor in college, she was always encouraging and was very helpful to him with many things like the LSAT exams. Bough also attributes meeting his wife of 21 years to one of Bartee’s class assignments.
“I think the endowment to remember Dr. Bartee is a great legacy for her. She encouraged countless Missouri State graduates to go on and do their best, and to work hard. And so by building up that endowment and having a speaker series, I think generations of Bears will continue to benefit from her,” Bough says.
Dr. Wayne Bartee, Alice’s husband, historian and co-author of one of his wife’s books, says she was a small, statured woman with a strong character who was very good at what she did.
“She had the reputation of being a very good teacher. She taught rather informally but she knew her stuff. A lot of it was, particularly in her upper division, discussing various cases and issues and how they have been handled over time, especially in the Supreme Court,” Bartee says.
When speaking of his late wife, Bartee says she always encouraged her students not to settle, but to reach beyond.
“I think her interest in students and encouraging them to do their best, and reach a little higher than they ever thought before. Some of them came from this area, many first generation college students, and thought if they just got a college degree and could get into any law school that would be such an achievement. Her response was ‘Yes, but you can do still more than that, push yourself a bit,’” Bartee says.
The initial goal of the newly established endowment is to raise $250,000. Once met, funds will be used to establish an advisory board and begin selecting speakers from across the country.
We will have more about the special legacy of Dr. Alice Bartee and her contribution to women in law during Women’s History Month in March. For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.
Click here to learn more about the Dr. Alice Fleetwood Bartee endowment