How I Spent My Summer Vacation

September 21, 2009
Summer isn't only a time for family trips and relaxation. It's also a break from normal routine that allows many Baylor faculty and staff to pursue research, teaching abroad or personal intellectual goals. For the fourth summer in a row, we asked a number of faculty and staff how they spent their time off, and the responses reveal a varied mixture of activities.


Dr. Mary C. Brucker

Professor of Nursing

"The summer I attended the famous Oxford Round Table from July 12-17. The Round Table is entering its third decade. Although not a formal affiliate of Oxford University, it is based in Oxford, England, and uses facilities of the University, often including faculty or retired faculty to conduct colloquiums for small groups to discuss public policy issues of national import. Baylor has supported several faculty members from the university at large, and The Louise Herrington School of Nursing also has sent faculty to attend. The Round Table program for which I traveled was titled "Women in the Academy" and subtitled "Prospects and Promises: An Interdisciplinary Perspective."

All invited participants are encouraged to present a formal paper with the possibility of publication in the peer-reviewed Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table. Of the approximately 25 participants, all except two had formal presentations. Several themes emerged during the sessions, which I would summarize them as: "Women and Academic Leadership;" "Stories of Women in Academia: Yesterday and Today;" "Women and Educational Programs;" and "Women and International Education."

Under the theme of "Women in Educational Programs," I presented midwifery as an example of women's work that has been challenged to move into higher education in the United States, particularly because of a convergence of several historical events of the early 20th century. The novelty of midwifery and the difference of U.S. educational paths when compared to European formal midwifery education seemed to be of interest to participants and especially the English facilitator.

I believe that the conference provided information that may be useful to the nursing school. Some specifics for consideration would include: The importance of development activities focused on women; persuasive rhetoric to facilitate success in teaching, practice or development; the importance of recognition of post-feminist education; the use of honorary degrees or other methods of recognition to involve women of importance to a school; and the use of stories to help students understand roles.

While at the Round Table I took nursing school lanyards and shared them, along with some Dr Pepper-flavored Jelly Bellies and a small inexpensive piece of Texas jewelry, with the participants, and received an Xavier University key fob from another individual in return. With the exception of one evening, food was provided and was quite an international affair with Italian and even Tex-Mex represented.

As an aside, Oxford is the city of gleaming spires and a beautiful area to explore. I arrived early on a Sunday, before my room was ready. I discovered a Catholic Church, the Oxford Oratory, only two blocks from St. Anne's College. I arrived just in time for the celebration of the just announced beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. Newman's work is well known among academicians, including those at Baylor University, particularly because of his book on the nature of the university. Newman's parish was the Oxford Oratory and so this was great cause for a solemn high Mass in Latin, with "intense" music. I was pleasantly astounded that no matter how loud those of us in the congregation sang (and yes, the Latin and Gregorian chant does come back), the acoustics in the small building enhanced the choir so that the sound was both joyful and on key. This was a rare, if not once in a lifetime event.

Also while in Oxford, four of the Round Table participants and I went punting on the Cherwell River, which runs into the Thames. Ever since reading Dorothy Sayers' mystery Gaudy Night during my adolescence, I have wanted to go punting. It was a delightful afternoon and not a difficult activity (once we remembered to untie the punt). I would recommend going to the river "to send your love to London," as Sayers said. (I also reread Gaudy Night for this trip, in paperback since it isn't available on Kindle)."


Dr. W. Gardner Campbell

Director of the Baylor Academy for Teaching and Learning

"This summer I wrote two articles for EDUCAUSE Review, one in collaboration with other members of the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative Advisory Board, and one by myself. The former, "Opening Up Learning: From Spaces to Environments," appeared in the May/June issue; the latter, "A Personal Cyberinfrastructure," is forthcoming in the September/October issue. My summer conference presentations included plenary or keynote addresses at Campus Skellefteċ of Umeċ University, Skellefteċ, Sweden, the CUPA-HR Association Leadership Program, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business Faculty Conference on Learning and Research, the New Media Consortium annual conference, and the Open Education 2009 Conference in Vancouver.

In June I began a three-year term as a member of the board of directors of the New Media Consortium. Summer activities at the Academy for Teaching and Learning included a Digital Storytelling workshop, a presentation at the Council of Deans retreat, a presentation at New Faculty Orientation, and three seminars for Excellence in Teaching."


Dr. Gerald B. Cleaver

Associate Professor of Physics

"Over the summer, Matthew Robinson (former Ph.D. student of mine), Tibra Ali (former postdoc in my research group who is starting a position at the Canadian Perimeter Institute) and I completed the first draft of the second volume of a set of books on elementary particle physics, quantum field theory, gravity and string theory. Matthew and I are writing the set with various co-authors and over the next few years we plan to write at least two more volumes. Volume 1 was co-authored last year with high energy experimentalist Jay Dittmann (assistant professor of physics at Baylor) and his graduate student Karen Bland. The set is designed to provide a fast track for both graduate and undergraduate students to string/M theory research. Also, Tim Renner and Jared Greenwald (two of my graduate students) and I finished a computer program for generating the complete set of string models of a certain class. In addition, Cameron Buescher (Baylor undergraduate physics major), Gunner Miller and Michael Janas (REU students) and I converted my decade-old Fortran 77 string model generating and analysis program into a much speedier version written in C.

On July 10 my family and I were saddened by the sudden, unexpected death of my mother from an ongoing medical condition of the last year. I want to thank my Baylor colleagues who sent us their condolences. These have been appreciated."


Robert F. Darden III

Associate Professor of Journalism

"This summer I had an adventure. I have been researching my next book, (tentatively titled Nothing But Love in God's Water: Black Sacred Music and the Civil Rights Movement) for the past couple of years and finally felt confident enough to begin interviewing the surviving Civil Rights activists (at least those with some kind of musical background) on their memories and opinions about the influence of the music on the movement.

I conducted a number of telephone interviews (including Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Bob Filner, Joe Ligon of the Mighty Clouds of Joy and others), then began scheduling interviews in the two cities where the greatest number of gospel artists, pastors, announcers, activists, and Freedom Riders still live -- Birmingham and Chicago.

Fortunately, I received a Summer Sabbatical and a generous grant from in the Institute of Oral History to continue my research in those cities.

I was accompanied by my wife Mary, who graciously agreed to go and help both with the interviews and audio, as well as the navigation on the urban streets of northern and western Birmingham and the massive South Side of Chicago.

Our time in Birmingham was life-changing, life-affirming, and academically rewarding -- often at the same time. We interviewed a host of the heroes of the Movement, musicians and singers and politicians and preachers who were on the front lines of the protests and rallies, who took the brunt of hoses and dogs and billy clubs, who lost dear friends to bombers and assassins and who sat on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s knee.

With each new interview -- and a number of our interviewees had never been asked about the music before -- we were kindly led to other Movement activists, announcers and quartets and children who sang on the way to jail.

We were overwhelmed by everyone's generosity and love for a couple of strangers. We reveled in impromptu concerts in tiny living rooms. We attended two memorable churches services, including one at the legendary Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, across the street from the Civil Rights Institute, and saw the stark reminders of four young lives lost because of hate.

Oh, and we ate well, too.

Our own "Birmingham Summer" was one for the books.

Chicago was a different matter.

The South Side of Chicago is massive, mile after mile of dense inner city urban projects and failed businesses. It's hard to imagine how big it really is, until you drive around those streets, faithfully following your GPS.

Although we arrived thinking we had too many interviews, we left with about half the number we'd originally scheduled. Things happen in big cities.

Please know that people were, without exception, kind to us -- and protective, too. At two different well-known African American churches, the pastors advised us to wait until representatives from the church could watch or walk us from our car to the church's (heavily barred) front doors.

Even our lovely Bed and Breakfast (next to the University of Chicago) was adjacent to a housing project and we had to unlock three doors to get to our room.

Again, we were never treated badly, nor did we ever feel threatened, no matter how devastated the neighborhood. But we were acutely aware that we were the interlopers -- and that was good for me personally. It helped me to understand -- even though it was on a miniscule level, comparatively speaking -- what it was like to be a stranger.

The interviews in Chicago were rarely as uplifting as those in Birmingham. Birmingham had been a success. Chicago was one of the Movement's few disappointments.

We eventually returned to Waco, tired and emotionally spent, but probably better equipped to continue working on Nothing But Love in God's Water, and knowing that I'm on the right track towards something that matters.

I've also continued to scheduling and conducting telephone interviews with people we didn't get to talk to in Birmingham, Chicago and elsewhere and will probably be doing so right up until it's time to turn in the manuscript.

And I promise you that Mary and I will never forget the choir at First Church of Deliverance at 4301 South Wabash on Chicago's South Side. People, now THAT'S what I'm talking about!"


Dr. Joel C. Gregory

Professor of Preaching at Truett Seminary

"This summer, for the fifth year, I led the Proclaimers Place Seminar for pastors at Regents Park College in Oxford, England. Over the past five summers there have been 160 ministers attend the four-day seminars to work together on biblical exegesis and sermons. While in England we visited the City Temple in London, site of the ministry of Joseph Parker and Leslie Weatherhead. We also visited All Souls Church in Langham Place, the church where evangelical Anglican J.R.W. Stott served as rector. It remains a world center of evangelical Anglican thought.

I spoke for eleven Sundays at Brookhollow (The Church Without Walls), an African-American church with six services on three campuses in Houston. Founder and Pastor Ralph D. West, Sr., is an adjunct professor in preaching at Truett Seminary.

Also this summer I spoke for the 14th year at the E.K. Bailey International Conference on Expository Preaching in Dallas, and finished writing a book with Dr. Bill Crouch, the president of Georgetown College in Kentucky. The book, What White Folks Can Learn from the Black Church, will be published by Judson Press this year."


Dr. Thomas S. Hibbs

Dean of the Honors College and Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Culture

"I spent most of my research time this summer working on a book on the Christian philosopher Blaise Pascal titled Divine Irony: Pascal, Philosophy and the Christian Life. I traveled to San Francisco and Berkeley to do research on an unusual poet connected to the Beat Generation, William Everson, a convert to Christianity. I also traveled to the University of Aberdeen to deliver a plenary address on the topic 'Theology and the Humanities.' Along the way, I wrote reviews of a number of films, everything from 'Funny People' and 'Public Enemies' to 'Harry Potter' and 'Bandslam.'"


Dr. Julie K. Ivey

Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology

"The Baylor Autism Resource Center along with the Educational Psychology Department held the inaugural Summer Autism Day Camp at Baylor on June 8-12. We had 18 children and youth in Central Texas attend (it could have had more, but since it was the first year we didn't want it to be too large). Eleven school psychology graduate students and one undergraduate special education student worked as camp counselors. In addition, we conducted a research project along with the camp that investigated self-monitoring and relaxation techniques with aggressive and challenging behaviors. Activities included, splash day (water balloons, water guns, etc.), scavenger hunts, music time, crafts, developing a campus slideshow, bubble making, purchasing snacks in the SUB and visiting the bear habitat, among other things. Both parents and the campers were excited about the event and we received very positive feedback. I believe next summer will be successful also!"


Dr. Benjamin S. Kelley

Dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science and Professor of Engineering

"How did I spend my summer vacation? I spent it in Vietnam, in two three-week chunks. As a U.S. Faculty Scholar sponsored by the Vietnam Education Foundation, I taught a course (in English) on engineering biomechanics for the Hanoi University of Technology. About half of the course was onsite, while the remainder was taught from my office at Baylor. The course materials were targeted specifically for the Vietnamese environment.

All of this conjures up a couple of metaphors. While Waco in some eyes will forever be linked with the ATF raid on the Branch Davidian complex, Vietnam will forever be associated with an unpopular war. And to find the Vietnamese people so warm and incredibly hospitable, and American-loving, made the experience all the better. There were no occasions when I felt unwelcome or unsafe.

But I must be careful even mentioning this experience in the same sentence with the word vacation. For sure there are many beautiful and majestic sites in Vietnam -- the limestone karsts of Halong Bay, the sandy beaches and green surf in Nha Trong. Yet on an everyday basis, even in the cities, much of one's energy is devoted just to the energy of getting the duties of everyday life accomplished. Moving from one location to another, even by taxi, involves participating in what one might call a raging river of motorbikes. It's always warm and humid in Hanoi, and air conditioning is not considered a necessity. So trudging up the four flights of stairs at the university with my loaded computer case quickly became daunting. Even during class time, my whole body seemed in a constant state of sweating.

The students in the class were great. While I was there I used candy treats as a lure to get them over being uncomfortable asking questions in English. And during the distance learning portion of the course, while I was lecturing at 7 p.m. in Waco, they were in front of their computers at 7 a.m. in Hanoi. They always kept a good attitude, though I can't say they always had a sparking attendance record."


Dr. Thomas S. Kidd

Associate Professor of History

"This summer I worked on a couple of books, one that is nearly finished and one I am just starting. I worked with my editor at Basic Books on final revisions of God of Liberty: A Religious History of the American Revolution, which is due out in spring 2010. I also began researching and writing a history of Baptists in America, which I am co-authoring with Professor Barry Hankins of Baylor. I also wrote a chapter on 18th century evangelicalism for the Cambridge Companion to Religion in America, and became co-editor of a reader on the American founding and religion, which will be published by Oxford University Press.

In June I consulted for the State Department regarding historical background for President Obama's speech to the Muslim world in Cairo. Some of the material from that consultation appeared on the White House blog. This opportunity came about as a result of my book American Christians and Islam (2008).

I also spent a lot of time with my family this summer, including trips to Michigan, Virginia and New Mexico, where my wife, two boys and I all saw Carlsbad Caverns for the first time."


Dr. Robert J. Marks

Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering

"This summer I wrote seven technical papers. Some of them are good. My Oxford University Press book, Handbook of Fourier Analysis, was released but failed to make Amazon's Top 10 in nonfiction. My wife bought a horse too small for me to ride. We also planted a garden for the first time. The first cucumber I picked and ate from the garden made my lips numb. My wife Monika instructed me, in the future, to wash off the insecticide.

I spent a week in Newport at the naval base with Albert Yu, a Baylor graduate student, and Ben Thompson, a Baylor alum now at the Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State, participating in a research workshop. I gave an invited lecture on evolutionary informatics in Fort Worth as a Distinguished Lecturer in my professional society (IEEE). I also spent a week in Seattle giving a short course on evolutionary informatics. I worked on various projects with Baylor professors Charles Baylis, John Davis, Ian Gravagne, Randall Jean, Kwang Lee and David Sturgill. Like last summer, I spent a lot of time thinking about exercise and being frustrated at national politics."


Dr. Timothy R. McKinney

Associate Professor of Music Theory

"During my summer vacation I taught a music theory course in the Baylor School of Music and worked on various research projects. Early in the summer I wrote a successful proposal for a paper to be presented at the Renaissance Society of America conference in Venice, Italy, next spring.

From June 23-28 I traveled to Ireland and presented a paper titled 'Hanslick and Hugo Wolf' at an international conference (Eduard Hanslick: Aesthetic, Critical, and Cultural Contexts) held at the University of Dublin. After the conference I was invited to expand my paper for inclusion in a forthcoming book on Hanslick, and am currently engaged in doing so.

From July 16-18 I was in Lawrence, Kansas, to present a paper titled 'Hugo Wolf's Music Criticism and Criticism in Music' at the inaugural Conference on 19th Century Music held at the University of Kansas. I also served as an external reader for the Chinese University of Hong Kong on a master's thesis that dealt with matters related to my interest in music theory of the 16th century, and anxiously awaited the proofs of my book Adrian Willaert and the Theory of Interval Affect, which is due to be published by Ashgate Publishing this fall."


Dr. Janelle M. Walter

Professor of Family and Consumer Sciences

"This summer my husband and I rode Amtrak to New Jersey to visit our daughter. Few people make that kind of long distance trip anymore so I thought that would be considered unusual. We caught the train in McGregor, Texas, and went to Chicago. We had a seven-hour layover, so we went to the Sears Tower, now the Willis Tower, the Federal Reserve Bank and the Chicago Board of Trade while there. We could not go on the trading floor without an appointment, so on our return we had made arrangements to so see where grains and other commodities are traded.

From Chicago we took the Lake Shore Limited to New York. It travels along Lake Erie going through Buffalo, Albany and Utica, New York. We went right into Penn Station. From there we caught New Jersey Transit and went to Madison, New Jersey. We had come down through the Hudson River Valley and seen the Mohawk River Valley and the Erie Canal. It was a beautiful trip. We retraced our route back to Texas, catching the Texas Eagle in Chicago and coming right back to McGregor."


Dr. Bennie F.L. Ward

Distinguished Professor of Physics

"My summer was highlighted by three trips, one in which I traveled to the Theory Division, PH Department, CERN (European Laboratory for Elementary Particle Physics), in Geneva, Switzerland, one in which I traveled to the 2009 Symposium of the Division of Particles and Fields of the American Physical Society (DPF2009) in Detroit, Michigan, and one in which I traveled to the 24th International Symposium on Lepton Photon Interactions at High Energies (LP09) in Hamburg, Germany.

The trip to CERN, where I am a short-term visitor to the Theory Unit of the CERN Physics Department, allowed me to continue the exciting and challenging preparations for the turn-on of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the largest peacetime physics experiment in the history of civilization. The beams already circulated in the machine in September 2008. There was an accident which required substantial repairs. The restart is now scheduled for December 2009. The objective is to probe the deep underpinnings of the origin of mass in the Standard Model of elementary particles, where we note that the simplest paradigm involves the Higgs particle which could then be one of the main discoveries of the LHC.

My research group here at Baylor (my graduate student Sammy Joseph and myself), together with our collaborators Dr. Swapan Majhi, currently at the Saha Institute in Kolkata, India, Dr. Scott Yost, currently at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, and Dr. Mikhail Kalmykov, currently at II. Institut for Theoretical Physics at the University of Hamburg in Hamburg, Germany, is focused on the precision theory of LHC physics, always keeping an eye as well toward the possible application of our work for the precision theory needs of the physics of the International Linear Collider, a project that is still in its developmental stages but which promises to deliver 1TeV e+e- annihilation energies (a possible site for it is Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory just outside Chicago).

I interacted at CERN with professors Bryan Webber of Cavendish Laboratory at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, and Mike Seymour and Stefano Frixione of CERN in introducing our new parton shower MC HERWIRI1.0 , preprint arXiv:0906.0788, which realizes for the first time IR-improved DGLAP-CS parton showers for precision LHC theory simulations. This is the subject of Mr. Joseph's Ph.D. thesis which he successfully defended on June 26, 2009.

At the DPF2009 Symposium in Detroit, I made two presentations: 1) in the particle astrophysics and cosmology session, I presented 'Planck Scale Cosmology and Resummed Quantum Gravity,' in which I conveyed recent results in my new approach to Einstein's general theory of relativity at the quantum level insofar as Planck scale cosmology is concerned (see Mod. Phys. Lett. A23(2009) 3299); 2) in the QCD session, I presented 'HERWIRI1.0: MC Realization of IR-Improvement for DGLAP-CS Parton Showers,' in which I showed the first results for IR-improved parton showers as predicted by my new theory of QEDxQCD resummation for high energy QCD processes as needed for precision LHC physics. Comparison with the D0 FNAL pT spectrum shows that the IR-improved spectrum is a better fit to the data.

In the LP09 Symposium, which is the 24th in this series of big international symposia, I was a part of the U.S. delegation. This is very important for Baylor's continued recognition as an institution in contact with the mainstream of particle physics worldwide. Our being a part of the U.S. delegation to the meeting helps to assure that America's interests on the world stage of the field will move forward and that Baylor will be attuned to that movement to the extent that we can influence that tune.

These activities show that our group had a successful summer.''
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