DETCOG Honors Dr. Baker Pattillo with the 2019 Ralph W. Steen Memorial East Texan of the Year Award
Lufkin, Texas – Dr. Baker Pattillo has been posthumously named the 2019 Ralph W. Steen Memorial East Texan of the Year. Deep East Texas Council of Governments (DETCOG) Immediate Past President Lynn Torres made the announcement Thursday during the Annual DETCOG Membership Meeting at the Pitser Garrison Convention Center in Lufkin.
The Steen award was named in honor of the beloved past president of Stephen F. Austin State University. It honors an individual who has played a major role in leadership and service to Deep East Texas.
Dr. Pattillo was born in the sawmill community of Camden, in Polk County. His family lived in Corrigan, where his father was the pastor of the First Baptist Church. The family moved to Arp when he was 13.
He met Ralph Steen at his high school graduation in 1961, and the two developed a special bond. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from SFA, later earning his Ph.D. in educational administration from Texas A&M. Dr. Steen named him the Assistant Director of Placement and Financial Aid at SFA in 1966, and he quickly advanced – becoming Dean of Student Services, then Vice President for University Affairs, and ultimately President of the University in 2006.
During his tenure at SFA, the University experienced substantial growth – in terms of enrollment, construction of new facilities, and student educational opportunities. One of his goals was to reach an enrollment of 13,000 students which was achieved last year.
Members of Dr. Pattillo’s family - his wife, Janice Pattillo, his daughter, Paige Pattillo Brown and son-in-law, Todd Brown were present to accept the honor in his memory.
The Ralph W. Steen Memorial East Texan of the Year Award has become one of the most prestigious and longest running, recognitions bestowed in East Texas. In 1976, Dr. Ralph W. Steen was retiring after 20 years as President of Stephen F. Austin State University. He had guided SFA from a small college to a large regional university, and in the process, he contributed greatly to the development of the Deep East Texas region. To honor his legacy DETCOG created this award and presented it to Dr. Steen -- and then named the award after him.