Baylor University Awards 2012 Centennial Professor

May 7, 2012

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Media Contact: Terry Goodrich (254) 710-3321

WACO, Texas (May 7, 2012) - Richard Russell, Ph.D., associate professor of English in Baylor University's College of Arts & Sciences, has been selected as the 2012 Baylor Centennial Professor by the Centennial Faculty Development Review Committee chaired by Joe A. Cox, professor of management in Baylor's Hankamer School of Business.

Russell applied for the award and was selected to receive $5,000 for his proposal to travel and study the works of poet Seamus Heaney, as well as continue his research efforts and involvement in the Beall Poetry Festival held at Baylor each year.

Russell said traveling to the Seamus Heaney Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and to the Seamus Heaney Papers at Emory University will benefit his teaching and research for a book about Heaney.

"I teach Heaney's poetry, prose and drama in almost every course I conduct at Baylor, and the material I acquire from my archival research will enhance my teaching of this Nobel Prize-winning poet on both the undergraduate and graduate levels at Baylor," Russell said.

Russell regards Heaney as one of "our greatest living poets" and will help prepare for Heaney's visit next year by donating rare Heaney publications for exhibition during the Beall Poetry Festival.

"I believe that Seamus Heaney's poetry, prose and drama grapples more seriously with the eternal human verities than any other writer since World War II," Russell said. "Heaney has consistently asked why we hurt each other in the name of religion, politics, race and just as important, what poetry can offer us in the midst of such violence: primarily joy, grace, hope and secondarily, enhanced cultural understanding, honesty and the ability to see ourselves as others see us."

The Baylor Centennial Professor award is funded by the Centennial Class of 1945 and supports faculty development. Each year, a Baylor tenured faculty member is designated as the Centennial Professor and is provided with funds for a project that will aid in developing of his or her ability to function as a university professor and contribute to academic life.

About Baylor University

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, classified as such with "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions.

About the College of Arts & Sciences

The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University's oldest and largest academic division, consisting of 27 academic departments and 13 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. Faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines.

by Carmen Galvan, student newswriter, (254) 710-6805

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