Remembering Dr. Phyllis Bridges

Dear Texas Woman’s Colleagues,

It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of Dr. Phyllis Bridges, a longtime professor of English—but so much more to this university. Dr. Bridges succumbed to health issues she had been experiencing over the past several months.

Those who knew Phyllis will not easily forget her. She was a force at Texas Woman’s from the time she first came to our Denton campus in the fall of 1972 until her last visit just two weeks ago at a dedication ceremony celebrating the Jimmie Lyn Harris Children’s Collection in the Blagg-Huey Library, a place she held dear.

Dr. Bridges’ legacy to Texas Woman’s is evident in many ways. She served as the university’s provost, graduate dean, and interim dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. She was recognized as the university’s historian, one of its most influential teachers, and among its most vocal advocates.

She was an outstanding educator, cherished by students and faculty alike. She developed a reputation for enthusiastically mentoring scores of graduate students. Dr. Bridges not only guided them to degree completion, she helped them find jobs and encouraged them as they advanced through their careers.

In 2010, she was named Cornaro professor, the university’s highest award for faculty members. Dr. Bridges authored many scholarly articles, was an officer of the Texas Folklore Society, and was a two-time gubernatorial appointee to the Texas Council for the Humanities. As a testament to her standing, the Southwest American Culture Association in 2001 established the Phyllis Bridges Award in Biography, which is presented to a graduate student who prepares the top biography.

She organized two lecture series which brought notable authors to Texas Woman’s, and wrote two books, Marking a Trail: The Quest Continues, celebrating the university’s centennial in 2001, and a follow-up, Marking New Trails: An Informal History of the Texas Woman’s University, in 2014. During the last several years, she championed the Voices of the Coronavirus Pandemic collection. The university has recognized Dr. Bridges as an honorary alumna and with a Bronze Medal for meritorious service to Texas Woman’s.

Just this year, she had a key role in bringing the Sarah Weddington Collection to the university. Weddington successfully argued the landmark Roe vs. Wade case before the U.S. Supreme Court, was a former legislator, and lecturer here at Texas Woman’s. With Phyllis’ larger-than-life personality, it is no wonder the two were longtime friends—since childhood.

Among Dr. Bridges’ most revered achievements was the integral role she had as chair of the planning committee that established the Blagg-Huey Library, which opened in 1986. She also was one of several key Texas Woman’s leaders who successfully testified against a legislative proposal to merge Texas Woman’s with the University of North Texas.

On Thursday, we will celebrate service anniversaries of our faculty and staff. Dr. Bridges was to be recognized for 50 years of service. It is remarkable to think of the impact she had during those five decades of service to Texas Woman’s.

She was a good friend to me, often offering unsolicited advice that always proved helpful. Although I am saddened by her loss, I cannot help but think of all the ways our world is better because Phyllis Bridges was in it.

With Pioneering Spirit,

Carine M. Feyten, Ph.D
Chancellor and President

P.S. We will share information about a celebration of life for Dr. Bridges in Inside TWU at a later date. She did not want a funeral but will be interred in Lubbock, TX.

Page last updated 9:46 AM, April 29, 2022