Cornelia Marschall Smith Award Recipient Will Present Lecture "Telling Stories"

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Bob Darden
Sept. 30, 2011

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Robert Darden, associate professor of journalism, public relations and new media at Baylor University, will present the 2011 Cornelia Marschall Smith Award Lecture at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 4, in Room 101 of Castellaw Communications Center on the Baylor campus.

The annual Cornelia Marschall Smith Award is presented to a Baylor faculty member who makes a superlative contribution to the learning environment at Baylor. As this year's recipient, Darden received $20,000 and will present his lecture, "Telling Stories."

The Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year award is based on:

Teaching , which is judged to be of the highest order of intellectual acumen and pedagogical effectiveness,

Research , which is recognized as outstanding by the national and international, as well as local, community of scholars, and

Service , which is regarded as exemplary in building the character of intellectual community at Baylor.

Darden said he believes one of the keys to effective teaching is great storytelling.

"When I can teach in such a way that students trust me enough to incorporate their own stories into a class, then I know they'll take away something of value from that course," Darden said. "To accomplish that, however, there are many times that I have to incorporate my own narrative, to tell stories, both good and bad, on myself."

Darden, who attended Baylor in the 1970s, is inspired by the legacies of his professors, such as David McHam, Rachel Moore and O.T. Hayward.

"They made themselves vulnerable to us by expressing their deep love for the material they were teaching," Darden said. "They were just as passionate about it in their 30th year of teaching as they were in their first years."

After earning his B.S.Ed. in journalism/art from Baylor in 1976, Darden received his master's degree in journalism from the University of North Texas in 1978. He taught at Baylor as an adjunct professor from 1988-89, before joining the journalism faculty full time. He was named associate professor in 2006.

Darden is the author of more than two dozen books, including People Get Ready: A New History of Black Gospel Music. He leads Baylor's Black Gospel Music Restoration Project to identify, acquire, preserve, record and catalogue the most at-risk music from the black gospel music tradition.

Darden has served as arts and entertainment editor for The Waco Tribune-Herald from 1978-86 and gospel music editor for Billboard magazine from 1984-94. Since 1987, he has been senior editor of The Wittenburg Door.

His articles and short stories have appeared in The New York Times, The Oxford American, Southern Arts, Amazing Journeys, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, CCM (Contemporary Christian Music), among others, and he has been interviewed about his work on the NPR programs "All Things Considered" and "Fresh Air" and "Tapestry" (Canadian Broadcasting Corp.).

In 1986, Darden received a Rotary Foundation Fellowship to study art history and film at the University of Bristol in England. In 2008, he was named a Baylor University Centennial Professor, which allowed him to research black gospel artists and the effects of their music on the Civil Rights Movement. That same year, he was named Outstanding Research Professor in the College of Arts and Sciences at Baylor.

About Dr. Cornelia Marshcall Smith

A 1918 Baylor biology graduate, Dr. Cornelia Marschall Smith earned a master's degree from the University of Chicago in 1925 and her doctorate from Johns Hopkins in 1928. She was a professor of biology at Baylor from 1940-67, chair of the biology department from 1943-67, and director of Strecker Museum from 1943-67. She retired in 1967, but maintained an office in Armstrong Browning Library to assist charitable causes. In 1980, Baylor honored Smith with an endowed chair known as the Cornelia Marschall Smith Professorship in Biology. She was widely celebrated among her colleagues, students and alumni for fine teaching, generous mentoring and her many interdisciplinary interests. She was a lively and continuing contributor to the Baylor intellectual community until her death on Aug. 27, 1997, at the age of 101.

Previous recipients of the award include:

• Dr. Joyce Jones, The Joyce Oliver Bowden Professor of Music, professor of organ and Organist-in-Residence

• Dr. William Hillis, The Cornelia Marschall Smith professor of biology

• Dr. D. Thomas Hanks Jr., professor of English and Master Teacher

• Dr. Robert M. Baird, professor of philosophy and Master Teacher

• Dr. Kevin G. Pinney, professor of chemistry

• Dr. Ann E. Rushing, professor and associate chair of biology

• Former Baylor history professor Dr. Wallace L. Daniel Jr., who now serves as provost at Mercer University

by Katy McDowall, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

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