Two Professors Designated Master Teachers

  • News Photo 3241
    Tom Hanks
  • News Photo 3240
    Gerald Powell
Dec. 7, 2005

Baylor University Interim President William D. Underwood has announced the designation of Master Teacher - the highest honor granted to Baylor faculty members - will be conferred upon Dr. D. Thomas Hanks Jr., professor of English at Baylor, and Gerald R. Powell, The Abner V. McCall Professor of Evidence at Baylor Law School.

"I am pleased to announce that Dr. Hanks and Professor Powell have been designated as Master Teachers at Baylor. Both are distinguished educators who are very deserving of the highest recognition the university can bestow upon a faculty member," said Underwood, who received the Master Teacher designation himself in 2004. "Dr. Hanks and Professor Powell have inspired thousands of students by their exceptional teaching. They truly represent the best that Baylor is and aspires to be."

Hanks earned a bachelor's degree in 1963 and his master's degree in 1965, both from Washington University in St. Louis. He then went on to receive his doctorate from the University of Minnesota. Hanks began teaching at Baylor in 1976 and is a noted expert in medieval English literature, especially the works of Geoffrey Chaucer and Sir Thomas Malory. He has published several articles, books, notes, reviews and conference papers on medieval and children's literature, and also has recorded numerous roles in Middle English and in Early Modern English for The Chaucer Recording Studio.

As a Baylor professor, Hanks has been recognized for his teaching with many honors, including Baylor's inaugural Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year Award in 2004, which is presented to a Baylor faculty member who makes a superlative contribution to the learning environment at Baylor through teaching, research and service.

Hanks also has been honored as a Mortar Board Distinguished Professor in 2001 and 2002, Student Congress Outstanding Faculty Member in 2000-2001, Centennial Professor in 1998-99 and Collins Outstanding Professor in 1997-98. He also was chosen as one of 10 "Distinguished Professors" at Baylor in 1983 and received Mortar Board's "Circle of Achievement" Award in 1983 and again in 1998.

Currently at Baylor, Hanks teaches an honors writing course, English literature through the 16th century, and an Honors College/Baylor Interdisciplinary Core course on "World Cultures I: Roots of Culture."

Powell earned his bachelor's degree from Baylor in 1974 and his law degree with honors from Baylor Law School in 1977. During his time at Baylor Law School, he was a member of the National Mock Trial Team and executive editor of the Baylor Law Review. Following graduation, he joined the Dallas law firm of Vial, Hamilton, Koch & Knox, where he had an active trial and appellate practice with the firm and was made a partner in 1982. In 1986, Powell returned to Baylor Law School to teach, and in 1987, was appointed The Abner V. McCall Professor of Evidence Law.

Powell teaches classes in evidence and advanced evidence, trial advocacy in Baylor's renowned Practice Court course and an advanced trial advocacy seminar. He also serves as coach of Baylor's award-winning Mock Trial teams. In addition to teaching, Powell writes and speaks extensively on evidence and trial advocacy topics and has co-authored two books on Texas evidence, A Practical Guide to the Texas Rules of Civil Evidence and Texas Rules of Civil Evidence with Objections. Powell's exceptional teaching has been acknowledged throughout his career at Baylor by frequent invitations from graduating law students to deliver the law school commencement address.

Powell is an associate of the American Board of Trial Advocates, a professional association of experienced trial lawyers. Additionally, he serves on the Administration of Rules of Evidence Committee for the State Bar of Texas.

The first of Baylor's 23 Master Teachers - Professor Robert L. Reid, professor emeritus of history, and Professor Ann V. Miller, professor of English - were appointed in 1982.

In 1990, Dr. Emerson O. Henke, The J.E. Bush Emeritus Professor of Accounting; Angus S. McSwain Jr., professor emeritus of law; Dr. Robert G. Packard, professor emeritus of physics; and Dr. James W. Parsons, professor of accounting, were honored with the Master Teacher designation.

Eight professors were appointed in 1993: Dr. Robert M. Baird, chair and professor of philosophy; Dr. Jochem F. Burckhardt, professor of German; Tommye Lou Davis, associate professor of classics and special assistant to the chancellor; David W. Guinn, professor of law and The Louise L. Morrison Professor of Constitutional Law; Dr. Roger E. Kirk, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Statistics; Dr. Harold W. Osborne, professor emeritus of sociology; Dr. David E. Pennington, professor of chemistry; and Dr. James W. Vardaman, professor emeritus of history.

In 2003, Dr. F. Ray Wilson II, professor of biology, and Dr. Helen H. Ligon, emeritus professor of information systems, were selected for the honor.

Parsons, Burckhardt, Wilson and Ligon are now deceased.

In 2004, Baylor appointed as Master Teachers, Rachel Moore, senior lecturer of English; Dr. J. William Petty, holder of The W.W. Caruth Chair of Entrepreneurship and professor of finance; Dr. Alden Smith, chair of the classics department and director of the Honors Program; Dr. William Thomas, The J.E. Bush Professor in Accounting; and Underwood, The Leon Jaworski Professor of Practice and Procedure at Baylor Law School.

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