This spring, Dr. Bob Patterson, BA '52, MA '57, professor emeritus of religion (1961-2011), became the fifth Baylor employee to receive a 50-year service award pin. Although he continued his education at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, receiving an MDiv in 1956 and PhD in 1960, Patterson could not stay away from Baylor for long. In 1961, President Abner McCall, JD '38, BA '42, brought Patterson back to Baylor to start the religion doctoral program.
"Starting the program was tremendously exciting," Patterson said. "Who at such a young age gets the opportunity to start a graduate program at the largest Baptist university in the world?"
McCall put his faith in the 29-year-old Patterson and his colleague, Dr. Glenn Hilburn, providing the support they needed to get the program off to a successful start, hiring faculty, collecting a much-needed library and teaching graduate courses. Patterson also taught a freshman religion class each semester.
"The most rewarding part of being a faculty member at Baylor was the constant contact with students," Patterson said. "Those freshman classes kept me in touch with what was really going on around campus."
When Patterson first came to Baylor as a student, he was amazed at the school spirit. The first time he saw the Homecoming parade, he was stunned at its size. As a faculty member, he fondly recalls time spent with his fellow colleagues at the religion department's faculty meetings.
"There, age didn't mean a thing; it was the workload that counted," Patterson explained. "The world of academia is rare and unusual. You won't find another profession like it. It has the longest age span of any profession in the U.S. I think it has a lot to do with the satisfaction of the job; there is very little burnout. College professors have the support of their colleagues and the youth and enthusiasm of their students to keep them going."
Patterson retired in 2011, after reaching his 50-year mark, but his love for Baylor and the Waco community still thrive.
"If I were asked again to teach at Baylor, I would," Patterson said. "That's how pleased I am with Baylor and my lifetime experience of being here in Waco. I am very grateful to Baylor. It has become a way of life for me and for my family. My wife was a Baylor graduate and so are our two daughters. So, I am glad to be here! I would do it all over again in a New York minute."