Chairs Appointed For Baylor Religion, Theater Arts Departments

  • News Photo 282
    Dr. Stan Denman.
  • News Photo 281
    Dr. Randall O'Brien.
April 2, 2002

by Lori Scott Fogleman

Dr. Stan C. Denman, assistant professor of theater arts, and Dr. J. Randall O'Brien, professor of religion, have been appointed chairs of their respective departments, Dr. Donald D. Schmeltekopf, provost and vice president for academic affairs, announced today. Dr. Denman's appointment is effective immediately. Dr. O'Brien will assume his department's chairmanship on June 1, succeeding Dr. William H. Brackney, who will assume a full-time teaching post in the Religion Department.

Dr. Denman has served as acting chair of the theater arts department since August 2000 when former chair Bill Cook returned to full-time teaching.

"Dr. Denman is a well-known, extremely active contributor to theater in this community and an excellent teacher and leader in the theater arts department at Baylor," said Dr. Wallace L. Daniel, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "He has strong leadership abilities as a developing scholar and writer and as an actor and director. He has a strong commitment to the theater program at Baylor, which is one of the top undergraduate theater programs in Texas."

Before joining the Baylor faculty in 1991, Dr. Denman taught at the University of Pittsburgh and Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He received his bachelor's degree summa cum laude from Abilene Christian University, his master's degree from Baylor and his doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh. He has participated in the Three Rivers Shakespeare Festival, the University of Pittsburgh's Staged Reading program and the Waco Civic Theater, and has directed or acted in numerous Baylor-produced plays, including "Joined at the Head," "Me and My Gal," "Romeo and Juliet," "The Hands of Its Enemy" and "The Shadow Box." He also has written several plays and presented drama workshops for national arts conferences, churches and public schools.

Dr. Denman received Mortar Board honor society's distinguished professor award in 2001, as well as the 2001 Christians in Theatre Arts playwriting development award for "promising works" for his drama "The Etiquette of Mourning" and the 2000 Texas Educational Theatre Association's College/University Educator of the Year award. He is involved in several professional organizations and is an active community volunteer.

Since 1999, he has coordinated meals for 100-125 homeless and needy people at the Church Under the Bridge in Waco, Texas, volunteered for Mission Waco, taught Bible classes for children and adults at Robinson Church of Christ and coordinated "Coat Day," an annual winter clothes distribution to needy families.

Dr. Denman's wife, Lisa, teaches part-time in the theater arts department. They have two children, Merritt and Tessa.

Dr. O'Brien has been a member of the Baylor religion faculty since 1991 and served as acting chair of the department from 1998 to 1999, as well as acting dean of Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary from May 2000 until February 2001.

A graduate of Mississippi College, Dr. O'Brien received his master of sacred theology degree from Yale Divinity School and his master of divinity and doctor of theology degrees from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition, he has studied at Harvard, Yale and Oxford universities and held teaching positions at New Orleans Seminary, Ouachita Baptist University, Yale and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

"Dr. Randall O'Brien is one of the finest faculty leaders we have on this campus," Dr. Daniel said. "Fully committed to students, a person who has been for many years one of our finest teachers, a person of great integrity and good will, Dr. O'Brien is a natural to have in the chair position. Under his leadership, the department will play the role on our campus and in our community that it is truly designed to play."

Currently interim pastor of South Main Baptist Church in Houston and chaplain of the Baylor baseball team, Dr. O'Brien has served as pastor or interim pastor at 16 Baptist churches in Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. He has written more than 60 articles for professional and scholarly journals, such as Christian Ethics Today, The Theological Educator, The Biblical Illustrator and Christian Reflections, and has contributed to multiple Bible encyclopedias, including Eerdmans, Mercer, Holman and Anchor Bible dictionaries. His books include Who Is Jesus?, The Mosaic Messiah and I Feel Better All Over Than I Do Anywhere Else (And Other Stories to Tickle Your Soul).

A decorated military veteran, Dr. O'Brien fought with the 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam, where he received among other medals the Combat Infantryman's Badge, the United States Air Medal, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Unit Citation Badge and the Bronze Star.

Recognized by Who's Who in Religion and Who's Who in Biblical Studies and Archaeology, he was twice voted Ouachita Baptist University's Outstanding Faculty Member, three times selected Baylor Distinguished Faculty Member by Mortar Board honor society and chosen by the graduating class as the 1996 Collins Outstanding Faculty Member.

Dr. O'Brien and his wife, Kay, a member of Baylor's social work faculty, are members of Calvary Baptist Church. They have three children, Alyson, Shannon and Christopher.

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