While working toward a master's degree in history at SMU, Sally Grayson Cullum '79 recalls completing "many research papers that required extensive use of Fondren Library's resources." Although the countless hours she spent on coursework nurtured her appreciation for books and libraries, the Dallas native says she arrived on the Hilltop with a fondness for them thanks to her mother, Elizabeth Ann Pierce Grayson.
Cullum, who serves on the SMU Libraries Executive Board (LEB), and her sister and fellow board member, Elizabeth Grayson Donosky '08, honored their mother as part of the Remember the Ladies! Campaign for the Archives of Women of the Southwest (AWSW). In a tribute that is now part of the archives, the daughters celebrated their mother for her lifelong love of books and learning, independent spirit and community leadership, qualities that Cullum and her sister also exemplify.
With her special interest in history, Cullum applauds the role of the AWSW in "preserving the stories of women who not only had an impact on their families, but also on their communities and often on an even bigger scale. Historians can shed new light on women's contributions, which were overlooked for so many years."
As a graduate student, Cullum served as director of SMU's McElvaney Hall, then an all-women's dormitory. After her first year, she married G. Mark Cullum '69, who earned an engineering degree from SMU.
Although she planned a career in higher education administration, Cullum changed direction when her mother suggested she pursue a future in real estate. For the past 25 years, she has been selling properties in her hometown of Highland Park, as well as University Park, North Dallas and Lake Highlands.
Cullum "jumped at the chance" to help shape the future of SMU's libraries. "The power of a great library on the academic experience cannot be overestimated," she says. "As a University student, it doesn't matter what you're majoring in, you're going to use the library. Libraries have a huge impact on you, even on your final grade point average. So, you want them to be the best they can be."