Baylor Professors Designated Master Teachers

  • News Photo 1627
    Dr. F. Ray Wilson II, professor of biology
  • News Photo 1626
    The late Dr. Helen Ligon, professor emeritus of information systems
Nov. 3, 2003

by Lori Scott Fogleman

Baylor University President Robert B. Sloan Jr. has announced the designation of Master Teacher - the highest honor granted to Baylor faculty members - on Dr. F. Ray Wilson II, professor of biology, and the late Dr. Helen H. Ligon, Emeritus Professor of Information Systems.

Baylor will recognize Wilson and members of Ligon's family, as well as the university's 14 designated Master Teachers, during the intermission of Pigskin Revue performances at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 7, and at 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 8, in Waco Hall.

The 2003 Master Teacher designations are the first during Sloan's nine-year presidency. The last appointment of Master Teachers occurred in June 1993.

"It is a rare honor at Baylor and only bestowed on those professors who have made a profound impact in the classroom and on students' lives," Sloan said. "Ray Wilson and Helen Ligon represent those characteristics in very tangible ways. During Helen Ligon's memorial service in August, it was very evident how many students she touched during her 45-year teaching career, as Baylor alums spoke of being 'richly blessed' by just having the privilege to know her. Since 1973, Dr. Wilson has mentored hundreds of students who have pursued graduate degrees in the sciences. They truly represent the best of all that Baylor is."

A native of Wichita Falls, Dr. Ray Wilson is a 1966 graduate of Texas Wesleyan University. He earned his master's degree in biology from Texas Christian University in 1969 and his doctorate in physiology and biophysics from the University of Illinois in 1973.

Wilson joined the Baylor faculty in 1973 as an assistant professor of biology and was named full professor in 1989. He has been honored with numerous teaching awards, including his selection by the 1997 senior class as the Collins Outstanding Professor. From 1975-81, he was chosen "Top Professor" by Mortar Board and has been named to the academic honor society's Circle of Achievement for Outstanding Professors on six occasions. Wilson also was honored as a member of Who's Who Among America's Teachers in 1994 and 1999.

Wilson has mentored hundreds of Baylor students pursuing graduate degrees in the sciences, while also directing countless undergraduate research projects. In 2001, he was issued two patents for his "Method For Synthesis of N-Homocysteine Thiolactonyl Retinamide" and "Method of Producing N-Homocysteine Thiolactonyl Retinamido Cobalmin and Uses Thereof."

Wilson is a member of several professional organizations, including the Southeastern, Texas and National Associations of Advisors for the Health Professions, Association for Gerontology in Higher Education, American Aging Association, American College of Clinical Gerontology and American Society on Aging.

Wilson is a member of the Baylor Faculty Senate and has served on many university committees, including the University Tenure Committee from 1997-99 and the Arts and Sciences science facilities planning committee in 1999. He also has served on committees involving biology scholarship and awards, summer orientation, Welcome Week, BaylorPlus, recreational sports, United Way and Diadeloso. He is a member of Highland Baptist Church.

Born in the Central Texas town of Lott, Dr. Helen Ligon was a 1942 graduate of Texas Woman's University in Denton. She completed her master's degree from TWU in 1945 and earned her doctorate in information systems from Texas A&M University in 1976, becoming one of the three initial recipients of such a degree from A&M.

Ligon joined the Baylor faculty in 1958, serving as an assistant professor from 1958-60, associate professor from 1961-75, and a full professor from 1976-2003. She was named Emeritus Professor in 1997, and during the fall 1998 commencement, received a special tribute for meritorious service from President Sloan. She was still scheduled to teach a graduate class until her death Aug. 22.

She developed the first management information systems courses at Baylor, and later helped transition these into the present information systems department. As the first person in computing at Baylor and among the first in Texas, Ligon made many unique contributions to the field of information systems. In 1962, she learned how to run Baylor's IBM 1620 computer, teaching students to write and run programs using keypunch cards.

During her 45-year teaching career, Ligon received numerous honors, including Most Popular Business Professor an unprecedented six times and the 1991 Herbert H. Reynolds Award for outstanding dedication and service to Baylor. In 1992, her colleagues and former students honored her by establishing the Helen H. Ligon Professorship in Information Systems. Although officially retired in 1993, she refused to attend the ceremony or take her retirement award and continued to teach a "lighter load" of classes.

A crowning moment came in 1999 when Ligon and her family received the First Families of Baylor Award from the Baylor Alumni Association. Ligon's uncle, Bob Hailey, was a member of the Immortal Ten. Her son, daughter-in-law and grandsons all graduated from Baylor.

She was active in the First Presbyterian Church of Lott.

The first of Baylor's 14 Master Teachers - Professor Robert L. Reid, professor emeritus of history, and Professor Ann V. Miller, professor of English - were appointed in 1982. In July 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 June 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 president; 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. Parsons and Burckhardt are both now deceased.

For more information about Master Teachers, contact Tommye Lou Davis at (254) 710-3555.

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