If you spend any time in the Honors College, it does not take long to hear Dr. Alden Smith
’s name. Since 1994, the longtime professor and Master Teacher in Classics has served as the Director of the University Scholars Program, Director of the Honors Program, and Associate Dean of the Honors College, but if you ask him what he loves most about his time at Baylor, it is the connections he makes with his students.
“What drew me to the profession in the first place was getting to build relationships with students,” Dr. Smith said. “I never envisioned myself as a scholar, but I knew I loved to teach. I had incredible professors in college who made me work hard but also deeply cared about me, and I wanted to replicate that experience for as many students as I could.”
Dr. Smith’s relational approach to teaching has left an impact on hundreds of Baylor graduates, and prompted University Scholars graduate Heather Bauman (BA, ’99) and her husband Mark (BBA, ’99) to establish the Dr. Alden Smith Endowed Scholarship
“Dr. Smith was a wonderful mentor to me throughout my time at Baylor,” Heather said. “From my first Latin class with him, it became evident that he is a professor who is a unique combination of an excellent teacher, a strong researcher, and a mentor who loves his students. Dr. Smith went on to direct my thesis and became a determined advocate for me. So much in my life just would not have happened if our paths had not crossed.”
The idea to start a scholarship in honor of Dr. Smith has been with Heather and her husband for some time, but it was not until their oldest son began looking into University Scholars that the Baumans decided to move forward with the endowment.
“When my son began looking into colleges, I wanted him to explore the University Scholars degree,” Heather explained. “We ended up meeting with Dr. Jeff Hunt, the current University Scholars Program Director, and I was so impressed and proud of the direction the program had taken. I could see Dr. Smith’s influence and imprints all over the program. It was evident Dr. Smith had done what he set out to do when he became the director. He created a program that helps students shape their degree towards their vocation while also understanding the importance of educating the whole person through liberal arts education in a Christian setting. After our meeting, I was so inspired and decided to go ahead and put the scholarship together.”
For Dr. Smith, the news of the scholarship came as a surprise.
“I was out of town when I received a call from Heather herself,” Dr. Smith said. “I was truly honored but extremely shocked. I was not surprised that she remembered me because we have been in contact over the years, but I was astonished that her family would do something so generous. Heather was one of those students who I knew would be a difference maker in everybody’s life around her. I never dreamed she would be a difference maker for not only me, but for each student who receives this scholarship.”
The Dr. Alden Smith Endowed Scholarship supports Honors College students, with preference given to University Scholars. Because of the Baumans’ generosity, together with other important donor support, the endowment already supports awards of $5,000 annually.
“I truly want students who may not be able to afford a Baylor education to have the opportunity to experience the benefits of the Honors College and the University Scholars program,” Heather noted. “I hope this scholarship can help draw them in and give them access to the same kind of transformational experience I had at Baylor.”
According to Honors College Dean Douglas Henry, the Smith Scholarship Fund will help recruit and retain high-ability students to the Honors College.
“In the last five years, interest in the Honors College from the top one-percent of college-bound high school seniors has soared, with well over five hundred completed applications from that group alone this past spring,” Henry said. “These students desire rigorous inquiry and thoughtful education underwritten by Christian conviction. They also desire and need financial support to make a Baylor education possible. Every scholarship dollar helps us support the caliber of student capable of the worldwide leadership and service to which Baylor’s Christian mission points us. What the Baumans and other generous donors have accomplished through the Smith Scholarship Fund is extraordinary and cause for celebration!”
If you would like to make a gift to the Dr. Alden Smith Endowed Scholarship or learn about ways to partner financially with the Honors College, click here or contact David Cortes.