Baylor Mourns Death of Distinguished Professor

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Dr. Carl G. Vaught
Sept. 19, 2005

by Lori Fogleman (254) 710-6275 or cell (254) 709-5959

Dr. Carl G. Vaught, a 1961 Baylor University graduate who returned in 1998 as a distinguished philosopher, died Sunday, Sept. 18, at a Waco hospital. He was 65.

A campus memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, in Miller Chapel in the Tidwell Bible Building. Visitation will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 20, at 3915 Green Valley. Burial will be in State College, Pa.

Vaught was born on Oct. 21, 1939, in Kansas City, Mo. He earned his bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Baylor, where he received the Alpha Chi Scholarship Award as the valedictorian of his class. He then attended Yale University as a Woodrow Wilson and a Danforth Graduate Fellow and received his doctorate in philosophy from Yale in 1966.

Before returning to Baylor, Vaught taught in the philosophy department at Pennsylvania State University for 31 years, serving as head of the department from 1982-92. He became a Fellow of the Society of Philosophy in America in 1987, was affiliated with Oriel College in Oxford from 1990-91, and was named a Distinguished Alumnus at Baylor in 1993. He was appointed Baylor's first Distinguished Professor of Philosophy in 1998.

"Carl brought enormous passion to his teaching," said Dr. Robert M. Baird, professor of philosophy and Master Teacher. "He engaged the material with every ounce of his energy, and he spoke to both the heads and the hearts of students. He did so because he took the issues at stake to be matters that genuinely mattered."

"Carl will be remembered for his intelligence, for his wide and deep knowledge of the history and substance of philosophy, for his intelligent and insightful treatment of Augustine's Confessions, for his strong will and fierce spirit, and for his love of his students," said Dr. Michael D. Beaty, professor and chair of philosophy. "Though he and Janie spent 33 years in State College and he at Penn State, his love for Baylor intensified with their return to Baylor and Carl to our department. Even near the end, he was expressing his concern and affection for his students. We will miss him."

During his distinguished academic career, Vaught directed the dissertations of more than 30 graduate students, including that of Glenn Gentry, who received Baylor's first doctorate in philosophy in May 2005. Gentry said with Vaught's passing, "I have lost a great advocate and friend."

"Carl Vaught will be most remembered for his keen intellect and published philosophy," Gentry said. "While my memories of Dr. Vaught include those qualities, they are infused with something of a more relational nature. He was an encourager who made my dissertation possible. Throughout my Ph.D. program, even in its lowest points, Dr. Vaught always was able to keep my aim in sight and to point me in that direction. In fact, his advocacy of my final product was so great that at times the weakness in my work seemed to him unimportant. Certainly, we all need constructive criticism and he offered a fair amount of that, but I will always treasure Dr. Vaught's unflagging encouragement that was such crucial input in my life."

Dr. David L. O'Hara, a professor in the department of religion, philosophy and classics at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., began graduate studies at Penn State several years after Vaught left for Baylor. O'Hara said although he never met Vaught, he was grateful for the professor's influence on Penn State's philosophy department.

"When I arrived, several of his former students were still there, and his life and thought had made a palpable impression on the place. In the past few years I have often run into his former students at conferences, and have found them to reflect the spirit of his pursuit of God and his pursuit of truth," O'Hara said. "Carl never knew me, nor I him, but I am deeply indebted to him and to his family. They have made no small impact on my life as a Christian and as a scholar."

In addition to numerous articles in books and professional journals, Vaught was the author of Essays in Metaphysics, The Quest for Wholeness and The Sermon on the Mount: A Theological Investigation (rev. ed.). He also published a three-volume work about Augustine's Confessions with SUNY Press: The Journey toward God in Augustine's Confessions (2003), Encounters with God in Augustine's Confessions (2004) and Access to God in Augustine's Confessions (2005). Vaught also was working on a manuscript, Meditations on Love, and on a book of essays about Reading the Confessions for the New Millenium. His academic career also included numerous lectures and presentations at universities and conferences all over the world.

Vaught is survived by his wife, Janie, and their two children, Jennifer and Cheryl, their husbands, and three grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to Dayspring Baptist Church Building Fund and Baylor University J.W. Kilgore Fellowship Fund, department of philosophy.

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