News Briefs

March 20, 2013

Olson named to newly endowed professorship at Truett

Dr. Roger E. Olson, a professor of theology at George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University, has been named the holder of the Foy Valentine Professorship of Christian Ethics. The newly endowed professorship was created through a gift in honor of the late Baptist ethicist Foy Valentine, BA '44. The gift, made by Valentine's family and friends, will help support specialized courses in Christian ethics at Truett.

Olson is the author of 16 books, with areas of research and writing including the history of Christian theology, modern theology, evangelical theology and Christian ethics.

Valentine, who died in 2006 at age 82, graduated from Baylor in 1944 and earned master of divinity and doctor of theology degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. During his ministry, Valentine worked for racial justice and religious liberty through leadership roles in the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Southern Baptist Convention. He was chair of the Commission on Christian Ethics of the Baptist World Alliance and served for more than 30 years as trustee of the Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Valentine authored 13 books on applied Christianity and was the founder and editor of the journal Christian Ethics Today.

Cherry Award recipient on campus this semester

Dr. Brian P. Coppola is teaching in residence at Baylor this spring as the 2012 recipient of the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching.

Coppola was announced as the recipient of the Cherry Award and its $250,000 monetary prize in January 2012. His home department at the University of Michigan, where Coppola is The Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Chemistry, received an additional $25,000 for the development of teaching skills. As a visiting faculty member in residence at Baylor, he is teaching organic chemistry during the 2013 spring semester.

The Cherry Award program at Baylor is designed to honor great teachers, stimulate discussion in the academy about the value of teaching and encourage departments and institutions to value their own great teachers. Along with a record of distinguished scholarship, individuals nominated for the Cherry Award have a proven record as an extraordinary teacher with a positive, inspiring and long-lasting effect on students.

The 2010 Cherry Award winner, Dr. Edward B. Burger, a Williams College mathematics professor who recently also served at Baylor as vice provost for strategic educational initiatives, was named president of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, in February.

President expands Chief of Staff's responsibilities

President Ken Starr announced in March an expanded role for his Chief of Staff, Dr. Karla Leeper, that includes an additional title and new responsibilities as Vice President for Executive Affairs.

While continuing to manage the Office of the President, Leeper will assume responsibility for the Office of Governmental Relations and Baylor Event Services, which previously had reported to the Division of Constituent Engagement and Division of Finance and Administration respectively.

Leeper came to Baylor in 1992 as a member of the Baylor communication studies faculty and has served as the President's Chief of Staff since 2006.

Leading New Testament scholar-teacher to join Baylor

Executive Vice-President and Provost Elizabeth Davis, BBA '84, has announced the appointment of Dr. Beverly Roberts Gaventa as Distinguished Professor of New Testament Interpretation in Baylor's Department of Religion. Gaventa currently serves as Helen H.P. Manson Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis at Princeton Theological Seminary, where she has taught for 21 years. She will join Baylor beginning in fall 2013.

"Distinguished Professors have a unique role in helping to clarify and articulate Baylor's mission to be a research university with a distinctively Christian identity," Davis said. "The serious study of the Bible is a central part of that identity, and Dr. Gaventa has established herself as one of the leading New Testament scholars in the world. She brings to Baylor a sterling reputation as a scholar/teacher, and she will, in splendid ways, build on the legacy left by her predecessor, Dr. Charles H. Talbert, Distinguished Professor of Religion Emeritus."

Gaventa received her Ph.D. from Duke University and her M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in New York. Prior to teaching at Princeton Seminary, Gaventa taught at Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta and at Colgate Rochester Divinity School in Rochester, N.Y. She is the author or editor of 14 books and has published more than 70 articles and essays. In addition, Gaventa is the author of the popular "Take and Read" book review column for The Christian Century. She is in much demand as a speaker and has lectured on university and seminary campuses around the world.

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