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Nominations begin for professor of the year

Oct. 18, 2005

by LAUREN BURRIS, reporter

Good teaching and devoted scholarship will be recognized with the Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year Award this fall.

Faculty, students and alumni may submit nominations for the award by 5 p.m. Nov. 1 to the dean of the candidate's school.

This is the third annual award given to an outstanding Baylor faculty member.

According to a memo outlining the award, nominees should be excellent in the areas of teaching, research and service.

"It's important to acknowledge the work that people do even when they're not going for an award," said James Bennighof, vice provost for academic administration.

Since the award's inception in 2004, Bennighof has chaired the committee, which includes four other faculty members who serve two-year terms.

"It was a humbling experience to read about all the different achievements the candidates have," Bennighof said.

Past award recipients are Dr. D. Thomas Hanks, professor of English, who received the inaugural award in 2004 and philosophy professor Dr. Robert Baird.

"It was perhaps the best thing that's happened to me at Baylor, and lots of good things have happened to me at Baylor," Hanks said.

Hanks said many doctoral-granting institutions say they honor good teaching, but very few act upon it. He said Baylor gives 12 outstanding faculty awards and spends over $100,000 each year to honor excellent teaching.

"With awards like this one, Baylor is saying that they go beyond lip service to show how important teaching is here," Hanks said.

Hanks, who has served on committees in the past to decide other outstanding faculty award recipients, said seldom did he receive a student nomination, and when he did, it carried a lot of weight.

"Faculty often don't see other faculty teaching and they're often not privy to the relationships the professors have with their students," Bennighof said.

He encouraged students to nominate their favorite professors.

"Sometimes it seems that professors aren't given as much credit as they should be given," Dallas freshman Clayton Kendall said. "This is a way not only to encourage all professors, but award their relationships with their students."

Nominations must include a letter telling why the candidate deserves the award, a candidate's letter agreeing to be considered for the award and the candidate's curriculum vitae.

The award is named in honor of Dr. Cornelia Marschall Smith who was a Baylor alumna, biology professor and chair of the biology department.

The recipient of the award receives a plaque and a $20,000 cash award. The winner also presents a public lecture on an academic topic of his or her choosing during the fall semester after receiving the award. The winner will be announced April 19, 2006.