Baylor Provost Receives CCL Lifetime Achievement Award

Jan. 16, 2004
News Photo 1742Dr. David L. Jeffrey, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Baylor.

by Jackie Inouye

Story courtesy of Baylor Magazine.

Dr. David L. Jeffrey, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Baylor University, has joined the ranks of distinguished scholars, Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winners and acclaimed writers who have received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Conference on Christianity and Literature.

The conference is an international organization allied with the Modern Language Association that encourages scholarly exploration of the relationship between literature and the Christian faith. Jeffrey, who joined the Baylor faculty in 2000 as Distinguished Professor of Literature and Humanities, was presented the award in December at the MLA's national convention in San Diego, where he also gave a plenary address titled "Can Faustus Be Saved?"

"He was chosen because, in a brilliant way, he meets all of the criteria," said Dr. Maurice Hunt, research professor, chair of Baylor's English department and a CCL board member. "He richly deserves it for his many publications in the field."

Jeffrey, who published Houses of the Interpreter: Reading Scripture, Reading Culture through Baylor University Press last year, assumed the role of provost in June 2003.

"I am happy to have any of our professors be recognized for good work, and to make some contribution to the collective work of the faculty is a source of particular gratitude for me, now that so much of my time is devoted to administrative matters," he said.

Members of CCL's board of directors choose award recipients based on their service to the organization through outstanding publications and teaching in the fields of Christianity and religion and service as a board member or officer. Previous recipients include Owen Barfield, Doris Betts, Wayne Booth, Cleanth Brooks, Denis Donoghue, Rene Girard, Denise Levertov, Barbara Lewalski, Louis Martz, Czeslaw Milosz, Walter J. Ong, S.J., Paul Ricoeur, Nathan Scott and Richard Wilbur.

As a longtime Christian scholar in the secular realm, Jeffrey said he is "honored to be part of the witness of Baylor to the international community." Much of his scholarly work, he said, "explores the Christian religious foundations and intertextual relationships in Western literature as well as the literary and artistic influences of the Bible."

After receiving a bachelor's degree from Wheaton College and a master's degree and doctorate from Princeton University, Jeffrey chaired English departments at the University of Victoria and the University of Ottawa. He also has held academic positions at several other institutions, including Rochester University, Hull University in the United Kingdom and Regent College in British Columbia. He has been a guest professor at Peking University in Beijing since 1996.

Jeffrey has written and co-edited numerous books and articles and has received three CCL Book of the Year awards: in 1975 for The Early English Lyric and Franciscan Spirituality, University of Nebraska Press; in 1993 for The Dictionary of Biblical Tradition in English Literature, Eerdmans; and in 1996 for People of the Book: Christian Identity in Literary Culture, Eerdmans. Much of his work, including People of the Book, has been translated and published in China by Beijing University and Renmin University Press.

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