Baylor Graduate School Welcomes First Texas Baptist Universities Scholars

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(L to R) Dr. Keith Bruce, BGCT director of institutional relations; Kim Bodenhamer, TBU Scholar; Dr. Sherilyn Emberton, ETBU provost and vice president for academic affairs; Dr. Larry Lyon, dean of the Baylor Graduate School; Jessi Hampton, TBU Scholar; Chelsea Ruiz, TBU Scholar; and Dr. Steve Oldham, UMHB provost and vice president of academic affairs.
Oct. 27, 2010

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Partnership with BGCT strengthens Baptist ties, relationships with Texas Baptist universities

The Baylor University Graduate School, in cooperation with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, has launched the Texas Baptist Universities (TBU) Scholars program, an initiative designed to recruit top graduate student applicants from Texas Baptist universities for Baylor's Ph.D. programs. Three TBU Scholars are pursuing their graduate degrees at Baylor this fall.

The TBU Scholars program was created to:

    • increase the number of Baptist-educated doctoral students staying in Texas Baptist universities

    • connect Texas Baptist universities by partnering in graduate education

    • retain bright doctoral students in Texas Baptist universities as students and, subsequently, as faculty

    • increase loyalty and involvement of Ph.D. graduates with the BGCT and Texas Baptist universities

    • stem the "dying of the light" by providing a continued education for bright students in a Baptist university committed to its religious identity

TBU Scholars traveled to Dallas Baptist University on Oct. 14 to meet the chief academic officers of the BGCT-affiliated schools.

The Scholars who completed undergraduate degrees at Texas Baptist universities - Kim Bodenhamer (Hardin-Simmons University), Jessi Hampton (East Texas Baptist University) and Chelsea Ruiz (University of Mary Hardin-Baylor) - spoke about their enthusiasm for Baylor's graduate programs and their desire to integrate their faith with their studies. Each plans to pursue a career teaching at a Baptist university. The Scholars then spent several hours visiting the DBU campus and getting to know the representatives of each university.

Bodenhamer grew up in Comanche, where she was active in youth and mission activities at First Baptist Church of Comanche. She attended HSU - spending a semester abroad at Oxford University - and graduated in 2008 with a BA in biblical studies, while earning the Logsdon School of Theology Award. She received her master of theological studies degree from Duke University in 2010 and is pursuing a Ph.D. in religion with a focus on the Hebrew Bible at Baylor.

Hampton graduated from ETBU with a BS in education with an emphasis in theatre arts. A former middle school teacher in Cleburne, she is pursuing a master of fine arts degree in directing at Baylor. Hampton directed numerous plays with youth and made her directing debut with Harold Pinter's "Ashes to Ashes" at ETBU.

Ruiz earned a BS degree in chemistry from UMHB. While an undergraduate, she was a member of the Sigma Pi Chemistry Club and American Chemical Society, and conducted research in the UMHB Organic Chemistry lab for the synthesis and photochemistry of enamino ketones. She is pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry at Baylor.

Dr. Larry Lyon, dean of the Graduate School at Baylor, and Dr. Laine Scales, professor of higher education and associate dean of graduate studies and professional development in Baylor's School of Education, were instrumental in launching the new program. They said they are excited about this first group of TBU Scholars and look forward to expanding the program.

"This is an excellent way for Baylor to help strengthen its ties with other Baptist universities, and all Texas Baptists will benefit from this partnership," Lyon said.

Participating Texas Baptist universities include the Baptist University of the Americas, Dallas Baptist University, East Texas Baptist University, Hardin Simmons University, Houston Baptist University, Howard Payne University, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and Wayland Baptist University.

The cost of the program is shared among the partners. The BGCT provides $1,000 per scholar, the sponsoring college or seminary contributes $1,000, and Baylor's Graduate School provides the balance of tuition and a stipend for each student.

For more information, contact Scales at (254) 710-4487 or

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

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