News and Notes from the Office of the President

June 21, 2011

President's Note

The Baylor campus sparkled last month when the university conferred 2,138 bachelor's, master's, juris doctor and doctoral degrees on our students. This is the second largest spring graduation class in Baylor's 166-year history. How inspiring it is to reflect on the impact that these graduates will have as they leave the care of our dedicated faculty and staff to serve our hurting world. Our graduates join a legacy of ministers and judges, doctors and teachers, artists and business leaders, social workers and engineers. Whatever their vocational service to God and his creation, the extraordinary stories of our students bring honor to Baylor and joy to all who have been called to serve here.

Outstanding Faculty Honored at Commencement

Hearty congratulations to Baylor's Outstanding Professors for 2010-2011, who were recognized during commencement exercises May 13-14. This award represents a singular honor since the recognition comes from one's colleagues and is based on contributions to teaching, scholarship and the academic community.

  • Dr. Michael P. Foley, Associate Professor of Patristics, Great Texts Program
  • Dr. Janya H. Martin, Associate Professor of German, Modern Foreign Languages
  • Todd Meehan, Assistant Professor of Percussion, Department of Instrumental Studies
  • Susan Etheredge, Senior Lecturer in Finance, Managing Director of the Southwest Securities Financial Markets Center
  • Dr. Erich J. Baker, Associate Professor of Bioinformatics, Department of Computer Science
  • Dr. Diana Garland, Professor of Social Work and Dean of the School of Social Work
  • Dr. Jonathan L. Kvanvig, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy
  • Bridget Fuselier, Associate Professor of Law
Contributions to the Academic Community
  • Allison R. Yanos, Assistant Librarian and Catalog Librarian
In addition to recognition at commencement, each outstanding faculty member received a citation and a monetary award of $2,500.

Mission Trips

Following graduation, some of our newest alumni headed straight to the airport to join more than 200 fellow students, faculty and staff in that noble Baylor tradition of service to "the least of these." In all, 15 university-sponsored mission teams traveled to nine countries. Dr. Kevin Jackson, Vice President for Student Life, and Baylor's First Lady were among those traveling with our students.

A vitally important facet of Baylor's global missions approach is the commitment to sustained involvement through a continuation of short-term mission trips. In fact, one of our own religion professors, Dr. Dennis Horton, and four undergraduate research assistants recently studied the effects that short-term mission trips have on mission team members.

The study found that students who participate in short-term mission trips tend to have lower levels of materialism, greater appreciation for other cultures, and a better understanding of missions as a lifestyle.

Baylor has been intentional about cultivating relationships with people and ministries in countries, such as Kenya, where five diverse Baylor teams recently worked alongside such Baylor friends as Pastor Edward Simiyu of City Harvest Ministries in Nairobi.

Rev. Simiyu – who was at Baylor last fall working on his dissertation – arranged a meeting between the Baylor Women's Leadership team and the Honorable Samuel L. Poghisio, EGH, M. P., Minister of Information Technology and Communications and a principled Christian leader in the Kenyan Parliament. That meeting inspired Mr. Poghisio's decision to visit Baylor earlier this month. He received a firsthand look at the university's innovative Film and Digital Media division with Dr. Corey Carbonara and Dr. Chris Hansen; toured the BRIC with Dr. Truell Hyde; and discussed international education with Dr. Blaine McCormick and Dr. Naymond Keathley.

The Waco Tribune-Herald recently wrote about the Minister's visit and the important work being done to extend our reach internationally. You can read the article here.

Generous Gifts Benefit Business School Students

Baylor's Hankamer School of Business is the beneficiary of two wonderfully generous recent gifts that will positively impact students for generations to come.

A $2 million gift – given anonymously to the business school – will endow the Baylor Entrepreneurship Innovation Challenge. The Challenge is a national business plan competition that will provide invaluable opportunities for Baylor students as they seek to develop business ideas and the plans that will help bring these ideas to fruition. This empowering gift – and the ensuing development of the business plan competition – will further enrich Baylor's nationally-recognized Entrepreneurship program, which was recently ranked by Entrepreneur Magazine as No. 2 in the country.

Earlier this month, we announced a $1 million gift from the estate of Sadie Jo Black and the family testamentary trust of her brother, W. Dial "Dub" Black Jr., to provide additional scholarship support – a mission very dear to her – for students attending Baylor's business school.

An avid supporter of The President's Scholarship Initiative, Sadie Jo – who passed away in December 2010 – is remembered as a true advocate and faithful friend who raised the standard of scholarship support for our students. This recent provision will continue the family's legacy in scholarships, providing for more students through the W. Dial (Dub) Black Jr. Endowed Scholarship Fund in Business. A portion of the gift will contribute toward creation of a fund to provide an annual senior recognition event for scholarship recipients: the W. Dial (Dub) Black Jr. Hankamer School of Business Senior Recognition Banquet.

Recent Loss of Emeritus Faculty

Baylor University was saddened by the deaths of three iconic figures among our emeritus faculty, Dr. John N. Jonsson, Dean Angus McSwain and Dr. James (Jim) Truitt.

Dr. Jonsson, Emeritus Professor of Religion and director of the African Studies program, died May 26 at his home in South Africa after an extended illness. The native South African, Baptist pastor and scholar was actively involved in protesting against apartheid. In 1977, Dr. Jonsson ran as an anti-apartheid candidate for the South African Parliament, an election he lost by fewer than 1,000 votes. In 1985, he was the only Baptist minister to sign the Kairos Document. In 1989, he was one of the few white citizens of South Africa invited to attend the first Conference for a Democratic Future in South Africa. That watershed gathering led to the release from prison of Nelson Mandela. We extend our condolences to his wife Gladys and children, Lois, Sylvia and Sven.

Angus McSwain, Baylor Law School's Dean Emeritus, died May 29 in Waco. He served as a professor of law from 1949 until 1965, when he became dean. Dean McSwain would lead the law school for the next 19 years, which at that time was the longest tenure of any dean in the law school's history. Although he "officially" retired in 1994, he continued to teach until 2008, a total of 59 years. We extend our condolences to his son Andy McSwain, also a Baylor Lawyer, Andy's wife, Chris, and grandson, Stewart.

Dr. Truitt, Professor Emeritus of Economics at the Hankamer School of Business, died June 7 in Waco after a long illness. He joined Baylor in 1969 as chair of the department of economics and finance. After the departments were split, Dr. Truitt continued as economics chair until he retired in 2000. He continued as a part-time faculty member until August 2004. Of his nearly 36 years on the faculty at Baylor, more than 30 years were spent as department chair. We extend our condolences to his wife Cecile and daughters, Susan and Catherine.

Baylor Receives Presidential Recognition for Community Service

Every day, we are encouraged by the stirring examples of our students as they volunteer their service to our community, our nation and our world. Because we are a Christian institution committed to actively living out our mission, these exceptional students represent some of Baylor's very best ambassadors. The light which these servant leaders project is not hidden under a bushel.

Recognized "With Distinction" on the 2010 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), Baylor students received the highest federal award a college or university can earn for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement. Of the 131 colleges and universities named to list, only one other Texas university, St. Mary's, was honored so highly.

At Baylor, nearly 10,000 students engage in academic service-learning and other forms of volunteer community service for a total of more than 60,000 hours annually. Students work closely with more than 140 non-profit agencies, as well as schools, churches and other organizations in the greater Waco community. This admirable combination of activities impacts positively the lives of thousands of local residents, families and children. CNCS specifically recognized several exemplary Baylor volunteer and community service projects, including Campus Kitchen, discipline-specific mission trips and Steppin' Out.

Student Accolades

Two May 2011 graduates, Amanda Randolph of La Vernia, Texas, and Bond West of San Antonio, have been selected for Fulbright grants, becoming Baylor's 25th and 26th Fulbright recipients since 2001. Ms. Randolph will research in the area of gerontology at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, while Mr. West will study Nordic sagas at the University of Iceland. The Fulbright is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

Jason Berninger, a doctoral student in Baylor's Institute of Biomedical Studies, has received a Research Associateship award from the National Research Council. The award will allow Mr. Berninger to continue his research – fully funded – on the effects of pharmaceuticals on the environment for three years following his August graduation from Baylor.

Athletics Update

Among the more than 100 students who recently traveled to Kenya on mission trips were 37 current or former Baylor student-athletes, including women's basketball standout and fan favorite Melissa Jones, who was making her third trip to Kenya as part of Baylor's sports ministry team. Anyone who knows MJ knows she is humble and faithful in her service to Christ, even joyfully giving away the shoes on her feet to a person in need. We watched MJ again step out in faith, after a serious late-season injury caused her to lose sight in one eye. She missed only one game, then donned special sunglasses and courageously played the rest of the year, leading her team to the Elite Eight. Last week, the Big 12 Conference named Melissa its 2010-2011 Female Big 12 Sportsperson of the Year, recognizing her extraordinary degree of sportsmanship and community service during the academic year. We continue to be inspired by Melissa's dedication, to give thanks for her example, to pray for her complete healing and to celebrate each of her accomplishments.

Baylor's spring athletics season concluded with a remarkably strong showing on the national stage.

  • Congratulations to Coach Glenn Moore and his fourth-ranked Lady Bear softball team, who advanced – in dramatic fashion – to the Final Four of the Women's College World Series for the first time in team history.
  • Senior track student-athlete Tiffany Townsend raced to her Baylor-record 17th All-America honor, while setting a new school record in the 200 meters and clocking the fourth-best time in the world this year at the 2011 NCAA Track and Field Championships. Baylor's 4x400-meter relay finished fourth, marking the 23rd consecutive season the team has earned All-America honors. Overall, Baylor earned a total of 10 All-America honors at this year's national championships.
  • The Baylor men's and women's tennis squads finished the year ranked sixth in the final computer rankings released by the ITA. Both teams were Big 12 Conference champions, with the Lady Bears reaching the Final Four for only the second time in school history and the Bears advancing to the quarterfinals for the ninth straight time and 10th time overall.
  • The Baylor baseball team advanced to the Regional title round for the second straight season and made its 12th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 14 seasons – one of only 14 teams in the nation to do so. In addition, Baylor junior pitchers Logan Verrett and Brooks Pinckard and senior infielder Landis Ware were selected in the recent Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Baylor has had at least three draft picks in 13 of the last 14 seasons; at least one Bear has been chosen in every draft since 1991.
Off the field of play and in the classroom, 94 Baylor student-athletes were named to the Dean's Academic Honor List for the 2011 spring semester, including 51 who achieved 4.0 grade point averages. During last month's commencement, 52 Baylor student-athletes from 13 sports earned their bachelor's degrees and three received master's degrees. Since Baylor joined the Big 12 Conference in 1996, 1,152 student-athletes have earned degrees from the university.

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