The award is named in honor of Dr. Wallace L. Daniel Jr., a founding member in 1976 of Baylor’s Phi Beta Kappa Chapter, Zeta of Texas. Dr. Daniel was initiated into Phi Beta Kappa at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he earned a bachelor's degree in economics with honors in 1964 and a doctorate in history in 1973. Dr. Daniel joined the Baylor faculty in 1971. He held the position of the Ralph L. and Bessie Mae Lynn Professor of History and served as chair of the History Department for four years (1992-96). Dr. Daniel also directed the Soviet and East European Studies Program and the Honors Program (1991 to 2003). From 1996 to 2005, Dr. Daniel led the College of Arts & Sciences as Dean. In 2008 he received the Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year Award, presented each year to a Baylor faculty member who makes a superlative contribution to the learning environment at Baylor.
Dr. Daniel’s research focused on early modern and contemporary Russian and European history. He has been named a Fulbright scholar three times: in 1969-70 as part of the official U.S.-Soviet Union Educational and Cultural Exchange Program in Moscow and Leningrad (now St. Petersburg); in 1979 for additional study in Moscow and Helsinki, Finland; and in 1996-97 for research in Moscow and Oxford University on "Religion and Democracy in Post-Communist Russia," one of only two funded studies at the time concerning all of Eastern Europe and Russia.
He is the author of the biography G.N. Teplov: A Statesman at the Court of Catherine the Great and The Orthodox Church and Civil Society in Russia. His articles on the intellectual and social history of Russia are published in Russian Review; The Slavonic and East European Review; Canadian-American Slavic Studies; and Religion, State and Society, among others. He also has been working on an intellectual biography of Father Aleksandr Men.