Professor Of The Year Award Presented To Chair Of Philosophy Department

  • News Photo 2839
    Dr. James Bennighof presents the Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year Award to Dr. Robert Baird.
  • News Photo 2838
    (L to R) - Baylor Provost David L. Jeffrey, Dr. Robert Baird, and Dr. James Bennighof.
April 7, 2005

by Haley L. Wright

Baylor University honored Dr. Robert Baird, professor and chair of the philosophy department, with the Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year Award during the annual Honors Convocation April 6 in Armstrong Browning Library.

The award is presented annually to a Baylor faculty member who makes a superlative contribution to the learning environment at Baylor. The criteria include teaching, which is judged to be of the highest order of intellectual acumen and pedagogical effectiveness; research, which is recognized as outstanding by the national and international, as well as local community of scholars; and service, which is regarded as exemplary in building the character of intellectual community at Baylor. As the recipient, Baird will receive $20,000 and will present a public lecture on an academic topic of his choosing during the coming fall semester.

Baird earned his bachelor's and master's degrees from Baylor University, his bachelor of divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and his doctorate from Emory University. He came to Baylor in 1968 as an assistant professor of philosophy and was named chair of the philosophy department in 1987. Prior to his tenure at Baylor, Baird taught at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Neb., and Oglethorpe College in Atlanta.

As a professor, Baird has been designated a Master Teacher at Baylor, and received both the Robert L. Reid Award for Outstanding Teaching in the Humanities and the Herbert H. Reynolds Award for Exemplary Service to Students. He was chosen as the Piper Professor of Texas in 1994. Baird has not only chaired the philosophy department for 18 years, but also has chaired a university self-study and the committee that developed the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core (BIC).

"Our recipient's willingness to give of his time points to his most distinctive area of contribution, especially in light of the extensive time and energy that he has devoted to teaching and research. This contribution is his service to the university," said Dr. James Bennighof, chair of the selection committee.

Baird is known for his prolific research conducted while teaching a heavy course load. He has co-edited a series of 13 volumes on contemporary issues in philosophy, several of which have appeared in second and third editions. He also has written and edited numerous other volumes, book chapters, journal articles, reviews, booknotes, abstracts and encyclopedia articles.

A 1918 Baylor biology graduate, Dr. Cornelia Marschall Smith earned a master's degree from the University of Chicago and her doctorate from Johns Hopkins. She was a Baylor professor of biology from 1940-67, chair of the biology department from 1943-67, and director of Strecker Museum from 1943-67. Smith retired in 1967, but maintained an office in Armstrong Browning Library to assist charitable causes. In 1980, Baylor honored Smith with an endowed chair known as the Cornelia Marschall Smith Professorship in Biology. She passed away Aug. 27, 1997, at the age of 101.

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