Longest-Tenured Faculty Member in Baylor History Honored in Special Edition of APA’s The Score
- The Score, a flagship newsletter for the American Psychological Associations (APA) Division 5, the Division for Quantitative and Qualitative methods, dedicated a recent issue solely to Roger E. Kirk, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Statistics and Master Teacher at Baylor University, in celebration of 60 years in the statistics field and his formal retirement at the end of this spring semester.
- Kirk joined the Baylor faculty in the fall of 1958. He was tasked to help develop a strong research program in the department of psychology, where he focused on psychoacoustics, the study of responses to sound. By 1969, Kirk was directing the departmentâ€™s graduate program.
by Gabrielle White, student newswriter, Baylor University Media and Public Relations
WACO, Texas (March 4, 2019) – The Score, a flagship newsletter for the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 5, the Division for Quantitative and Qualitative methods, dedicated a recent issue solely to Roger E. Kirk, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Statistics and Master Teacher at Baylor University, in celebration of 60 years in the statistics field and his formal retirement at the end of this spring semester.
Information for The Score was collected by colleagues A. Alexander Beaujean, Ph.D., associate professor in psychology, and Charles A. Weaver III, Ph.D., chair and professor of psychology and neuroscience in Baylor’s College of Arts & Sciences. Beaujean and Weaver wrote a biography on Kirk, along with a case study on what makes Kirk a Master Teacher. Kirk’s publications also were highlighted, along with colleagues’ reflections on interactions with Kirk.
Kirk joined the Baylor faculty in the fall of 1958. He was tasked to help develop a strong research program in the department of psychology, where he focused on psychoacoustics, the study of responses to sound. By 1969, Kirk was directing the department’s graduate program.
“When Kirk started at Baylor, new professors in psychology were given statistics courses to teach because no other faculty wanted to teach them,” Beaujean said. “Such was the case with Kirk. His first teaching assignments were an undergraduate introductory statistics course and a graduate course on experimental design. While these were not courses in which he had special expertise, he soon developed a love for teaching the content.”
In 1976, Kirk organized the doctoral program for behavioral statistics, which grew into an interdisciplinary Institute of Statistics, a joint effort by the departments of psychology and neuroscience, mathematics and the Hankamer School of Business. The institute today is the department of statistical science.
Excellence in teaching, mentoring
During his time at Baylor, Kirk was honored with multiple awards such as the Texas Psychological Association Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award, Baylor’s Outstanding Tenured Teacher in the College of Art & Sciences Award, Jacob Cohen Award for Distinguished Contributions to Teaching and Mentoring, APA’s Charles L. Brewer Award for Distinguished Teaching of Psychology and the title of Master Teacher.
“Master Teacher appointments were created to be the highest honor granted to Baylor faculty members for sustained excellence in teaching at Baylor University,” Weaver said. “The appointments are based on the profound impacts of faculty members in the classroom and on students’ lives as judged by the record of the faculty members’ achievements and the observations of the various nominators.”
In a case study presented by Beaujean, he wanted to explore how a Master Teacher behaves in the college classroom and came up with five common themes that Kirk presents in the classroom. He uses use of humor, rigor, care and respect for students, anecdotes and examples, and material reviews.
“Personally, I learned a great deal by observing Kirk,” Beaujean said. “I teach courses similar to the one I observed Kirk teaching and have already started implementing changes. I try to incorporate more humor and anecdotes, plan for content reviews and make a more purposeful effort to talk with students about non-class related material that is important to them.”
Kirk not only made an impact on Baylor faculty and students, but on people across the country and globe. He has earned glowing recommendations from numerous colleagues, including professors from Arizona State University, Michigan State University, University of Iowa and Hofstra University.
“As many of my colleagues around the country—and indeed the world—I first became acquainted with Roger through his texts. And to this day they still are readily available on my bookshelves as a resource,” said Liora Pedhazur Schmelkin, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Hofstra. “The lucidity with which he approaches complex topics is a testament to his ability as a teacher. I must admit that when I first met Roger when I became active in Division 5, I was somewhat intimidated. But Roger is a kind-hearted, wonderful, inclusive individual who welcomes newcomers and provides help along the way. I am grateful for his guidance and friendship.”
Leaving a legacy
Kirk’s formal retirement will be at the end of the 2019 spring semester. Kirk supervised more than 20 Ph.D. students, taught psychology to thousands of students in the undergraduate program and has more than 50 publications in the psychology and statistics fields.
“There are few professors in Baylor’s history who have left the impact and legacy that Dr. Kirk has,” said Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D. “He is a preeminent researcher, having published world-class research in experimental design and statistics over seven consecutive decades. He is also a celebrated educator, widely renowned for his teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. As the longest-tenured faculty member in Baylor University’s history, Dr. Kirk has impacted the lives of thousands of Baylor students. We are deeply grateful for his 60 years of service.”
To read the entire special issue on Roger Kirk in The Score, click here.
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