If you ask Diane Mattox, a faculty member in the Department of Interior Architecture and Design, when she first heard about BJU, she might give a chuckle and say, “When have I not?”
Her story at BJU begins with her father, Rev. Garland Babb, a former Bible teacher at BJU. He received his degree at BJU, and he and his wife stayed and served at BJU for the next several decades.
Mattox, then, literally grew up on campus, beginning with a crib in a little silver Airstream camper parked behind one of the women’s residence halls, Margaret Mack, and soon running, skating and bicycling with the other faculty children up and down every sidewalk on campus.
“My first impressions are little girl impressions of being on campus,” Mattox said. “This is my happy place.”
BJU used to have a small radio station located at what is now the entrance to FMA. Its call letters were “WMUU—World’s Most Unusual University.”
Mattox would go to the station every week after school with her friends to record a half-hour children’s program. Unfortunately, none of those tapes have survived.
As a child, she got to know everyone on campus along with the other faculty children. They all ate three meals a day in the dining common, and Mattox fondly remembers watching for beautiful Beneth Jones when she came in every day.
Mattox has other memories of the Jones family, including being among the last people at BJU who remember sitting under Dr. Bob Jones Sr.’s preaching. When she was a girl, her family lived next door to the Jones family on campus.
“Mrs. Jones Sr. would come knocking on our front door, bringing fresh strawberries from her garden,” Mattox said. “I thought, okay, this is home to me. These people are my family.”
Mattox graduated from BJU, after which she was offered a position to teach sewing, cooking and other essentials in home economics.
She got married in the War Memorial Chapel to Charles Mattox, who served at BJU Press and retired in 2018. “I’ve been selfishly thrilled that my husband felt led to stay here,” Mattox said.
One day in 1981, she returned to her office to find a handwritten note stating simply, “We’re adding an interior decorating major, and you’re in charge.”
Surprised but excited, she earned a master of arts in teaching in home economics at Winthrop University and designed the new BJU bachelor of fine arts in interior decorating. It eventually morphed from interior decorating to interior design and finally to the major it is now: interior architecture and design.
After serving at Bob Jones University for almost 50 years, Mattox has decided to retire at the end of this academic year. She said she feels the loss of a prayer warrior after her father died in October 2018.
“It has really weighed on me that when [my father’s] generation is gone, who is praying for everybody?” Mattox said. “The Lord has impressed on me to pick that up because I’m the next generation. I think that’s where I’m headed.”
Her biggest prayer right now is that someone will replace her who has as much love for the students and a heart for BJU as she does. “I really feel blessed,” Mattox said. “I feel 100 percent sure that this is exactly where God wanted me all of my life.”