Baylor Alumni Association to Present Annual Commencement Awards

  • News Photo 4472
    The Honorable Priscilla Richman Owen
  • News Photo 4473
    Dr. Daniel Vestal
  • News Photo 4471
    Dr. William M. Pinson Jr.
May 15, 2008

Contact: Judy Prather, Baylor Alumni Association, (254) 710-1121

During Baylor University commencement exercises on May 17, the Baylor Alumni Association will honor two Baptist leaders and a federal judge with annual awards honoring exemplary public and church service.

The Honorable Priscilla Richman Owen will receive the Price Daniel Distinguished Public Service Award, while the George W. Truett Distinguished Church Service Award will be presented to Dr. William M. Pinson Jr. and Dr. Daniel Vestal.

Vestal will receive the honor at the morning commencement ceremony. Pinson and Owen will be honored during the afternoon commencement.

These two annual awards are given to individuals who embody the meaning of Baylor's official motto, "Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana" (For Church, For State). The Truett Award is given to someone who exemplifies the life and career of the great pastor and Baptist statesman, the late George W. Truett. In a similar manner, the Daniel award goes to an individual whose record exemplifies the spirit of selfless dedication to public service represented by the life and career of the late Gov. Price Daniel, who earned a Baylor law degree in 1932.

Vestal is coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in Atlanta. After graduating from Baylor with his bachelor's degree in 1966 and master's degree in 1968, Vestal went on to earn two degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and pastored churches in Georgia and Texas, including Tallowood Baptist in Houston and First Baptist Church of Midland. He was instrumental in the formation of the CBF in 1991 and has served as its coordinator since that time.

It is especially fitting that Vestal receive an award in honor of George W. Truett, because he served from 1990-92 as the founding chair of trustees at the seminary that bears Truett's name - Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary. Vestal also has served on the boards of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, the Texas Baptist Standard, the Mexican Baptist Bible Institute and the Center for Christian Ethics.

Vestal and his wife, Earlene Black Vestal '66, have five grandchildren. Their three children, Philip Vestal '92, Joel Vestal '95, and Anne Vestal England '01, are all Baylor graduates.

Pinson, a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Christian Ethics at Baylor, served as the executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) from 1983-2000, when he was named executive director emeritus. Prior to his service at the BGCT, Pinson was president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, pastor of First Baptist Church of Wichita Falls, and an ethics professor at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he had earned both the MDiv and ThD degrees.

Also currently serving as a distinguished professor at Dallas Baptist University, Pinson is volunteer director of the Texas Baptist Heritage Center. He has written numerous books, including Baptists and Religious Liberty, and co-edited the Broadman Leadership Series. He has received honorary degrees from five universities, the W. Winfred Moore Award for Lifetime Achievement in Ministry in 2001, and the BGCT Elder Statesman Award in 2005. He and his wife, Bobbie, have two daughters and four grandchildren.

Owen, a Waco native and 1976 Baylor graduate, earned the JD in 1977 from Baylor Law School, where she served as editor of the Baylor Law Review and earned the highest score in the state on the December 1977 Texas bar examination.

A partner at the law firm of Andrews & Kurth for 17 years, Owen won election to the Texas Supreme Court in 1993 and re-election in 2000. She served until 2001, when she was nominated by President George W. Bush to the federal appellate court. Following her eventual confirmation in 2005, she now serves as judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, hearing appeals from federal district courts in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, and habeas corpus petitions from both federal and state courts.

Owen's previous honors from Baylor include Young Lawyer of the Year and Outstanding Young Alumna, and she was named one of Baylor's Distinguished Alumni in 2006. She is a member of St. Barnabas Episcopal Mission in Austin, where she teaches Sunday school and serves as the head of the altar guild.

For more information about alumni awards, contact the Baylor Alumni Association at (254) 710-1121 or go to

Looking for more news from Baylor University?