A self-admitted geeky introvert, Bertha Heard Dunlap's firstborn roomed off-campus in the non-pretentious Fifth Street "chicken house" - a non-dorm facility with backyard chickens - and studied geology in a converted frame house on campus. He made friends with two track stars, future preacher Ray Vickrey and future Baylor track coach Clyde Hart. They urged Ken to develop his running talent, which had become apparent at an intramural track meet.
A life-changing decision
Today Ken believes his decision to try out for the track team changed his life, removing him from an otherwise introverted existence. As a sophomore, he finished second in a quarter-mile time trial. He was feeling the physical consequences of the gutsy race when a coach tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Son, I don't know your name, but you made the team."
Ken won three track letters. His senior year, Baylor came within one race of winning its first-ever conference championship under coach Jack Patterson. His only scholarship benefit was three meals a day in return for working in the athletic dining hall.
"Over my 50 years here," coach Clyde Hart said, "I can't remember a total walk-on kid who never competed in high school track coming out, making the team and contributing to its success."
Ken held the school record for the quarter mile at one time and also ran on the mile relay team.
Continued love for Baylor
Ken's contributions didn't stop there. Later, he became Coach Hart's go-to supporter for such non-budgeted items as championship rings. A super fan who travels the globe for the Olympics and world championships, Ken has offered frequent financial help through Baylor's Track and Field Excellence Fund. He and his wife, Virginia, a retired school teacher, reside in Cypress, where he serves in semi-retirement as an oil and gas consultant. Last summer they announced the funding of the Kenneth N. Dunlap Endowed Athletic Scholarship in Track and Field. The Dunlap estate also will endow the Kenneth N. and Virginia Oakley Dunlap Endowed Scholarship Fund in Geology.
"I love the sport and the school," Ken said. "I believe in putting in money and interest to help a regular guy like me who got lucky and saw his life changed by the Baylor experience."