Baylor VP Hillis to Return to the Classroom

March 4, 1998

by Larry D. Brumley

Baylor University Vice President for Student Life William D. Hillis will return to a full-time teaching position in the biology department next fall, President Robert B. Sloan Jr. announced today. Sloan said the university will conduct a national search this spring for Hillis' replacement.

Hillis, who came to Baylor from The Johns Hopkins University in 1981 to chair the biology department, was named executive vice president in 1985 and was appointed to his current post in 1989. He also holds Baylor's Cornelia Marschall Smith Distinguished Professorship in Biology.

"Bill Hillis is one of the most outstanding graduates to come out of Baylor University," Sloan said. "He has established a reputation throughout his career as a renowned researcher, a great teacher and an outstanding administrator. It is uncommon to find all of these skills and abilities embodied in one individual. And you will not find anyone more revered and loved by students than Bill Hillis. He truly is a Baylor legend."

"It has been a wonderful experience to serve at the administrative level these past 13 years," Hillis said. "But I believe I have reached the stage in my life where I would like to return to my first love, which is teaching. It has been a pleasure to work with Dr. Sloan. I couldn't have been happier in this position than I have been these last three years. The same can be said of the 10 years that I worked with Dr. (Herbert H.) Reynolds when he served as president.

"I told Dr. Sloan last fall that I would like to return to the classroom on a full-time basis at the end of this academic year," Hillis said. "By announcing the transition at this point in the semester he will have adequate time to recruit a new vice president for student life before students arrive next fall."

Hillis, who will be 65 in June, graduated at the top of his Baylor class in 1953 and went on to earn his M.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1957. Over the ensuing years he held a number of research positions with the U.S. Air Force in Denmark, the Republic of the Congo, and at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. He remained active as a colonel in the Air Force Reserve until 1985, serving in a variety of clinical and hospital positions.

In 1965 he joined the faculty of Johns Hopkins as assistant professor of pathobiology. From 1968-70 he served as a virologist and resident coordinator at the Johns Hopkins Center for Medical Research and Training in Calcutta, India. From 1972-78 he was an assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins, and was on staff at The Good Samaritan Hospital and The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore until 1982. He served as director of the The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine outpatient clinical research center from 1973 to 1982. In 1978 he was appointed associate professor of medicine, holding that rank until 1982.

Hillis has been a consultant to the U.S. Air Force, the National Cancer Institute, the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the Tropical Medicine Center of Johns Hopkins and the Pan American Health Organization.

His community activities include serving as president and as a member of the board of directors for the Waco Conference of Christians and Jews and as a member of the board of directors of the Waco Chamber of Commerce. He is currently on the board of directors of Caritas of Waco and is a former president of the organization. He also currently serves on the board of directors for the Downtown Waco Association and was president of the association in 1997.

Hillis received Baylor's Outstanding Professor Award in 1985 and is a three-time recipient of Baylor Mortarboard's Distinguished Professor Award. Baylor Student Congress awarded him the organization's Outstanding University Administrator Award in 1994. Earlier this year the Baylor University Alumni Association named Hillis a recipient of its Distinguished Alumni Award, the association's highest honor.

He and his wife, Argye, are members of Seventh and James Baptist Church.

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