Alumni Profile: Bailey St. Clair, B.S. ’61
When we interviewed Bailey St. Clair, B.S. ’61, about his bucket-list mission of walking across the stage at UB’s spring 2011 commencement ceremony, it brought back plenty of memories of his student days at UB.
What was UB like when you were enrolled?
The classes were small and challenging, and the school turned out very successful people.
The school offered four undergraduate degrees in pre-law, accounting, marketing and business. Liberal arts degrees and graduate programs came later. The main building, where the undergraduate courses were held, was at Oliver and Charles streets. The law school was located on Howard Street.
There were a lot of Korean War veterans. They worked full time and attended school at night.
We didn’t have a lot of girls in the day school. We used to go to then-Towson State University because that’s where the girls were. That was a big adventure. It was a different era.
We even had athletics. I played intramural basketball. The basketball team won the Mason-Dixon Conference (now defunct NCAA Division III athletics conference) one year. One of the guys on the golf team was entered in a tournament, but his wife didn’t want him to go, so I substituted for him. I got beat badly. I lost 8-7, but I did win a few holes because I knew the rules.
Why did you choose UB?
I’m a Baltimore native. I grew up in Hampden, off West 33rd Street. I attended local public schools: Hampden No. 55, Roland Park Junior High and Baltimore City College, class of 1957.
I had a great mother. She was a nurse, and she was very supportive. In my neighborhood, people became firemen and police officers or worked in the mill. She encouraged me to get a college degree. She called it upward-and-outward mobility.
I spent a semester at [the University of Maryland,] College Park, and I was overwhelmed. The introductory writing course had 300 students; it was just too large. I told my parents, “I’m coming back and transferring to the University of Baltimore,” where I could get an education.
Why did you decide to major in business?
I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I needed a college degree. I took an aptitude test at UB, and I ended up in sales [as his career] even though my persuasiveness score was not good.
That career in the drug company [Bristol-Myers Squibb, where he was a pharmaceutical drug representative for 24 years] helped to educate my children, [who attended] private schools and private colleges. I would never have been able to afford those schools [without a college degree].
Compare UB then and now.
I’m extremely impressed with how the University has progressed. To me, it looks like a mini-Columbia University in New York [N.Y.], which created its own campus. My only regret is UB never went back to athletics; they gave it up in 1973.
Why was it so important to you to be handed your diploma, 50 years later?
I felt that something was taken away, and I wanted to do it. I said to my wife, “I wonder if they’d let me graduate. I wonder if they’d let me walk across the stage.”
I approached [school officials]. They were receptive. They said, ‘We think this is neat.’
Now that you’re retired, what do you do?
I ran in high school. When I was in training, I ran 80-90 miles per week, but UB didn’t have a cross-country team.
I’m a heavy-duty runner. I’ve done 60 marathons in under three hours. I coached cross country and indoor track at Eastern Technical High School in Essex. I sub in English there.
I’ve run the Boston Marathon 20 times, New York marathon four times and Baltimore Marathon 15 times. I still run. Even with a hip replacement, I run 30 miles per week.