Web Extra: Baylor-Trained Team Providing Leadership at UMHB

April 10, 2016
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Dr. Randy O’Rear, president of the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor is one of a strong team of UMHB administrators who earned credentials in the Baylor School of Education. All doctoral grads from Baylor’s EdD program, they are pictured (l-r): Dr. Marlene Zipperlen, dean of the College of Education; Dr. Cliffa Foster, Chair of Exercise & Sport Science; Dr. Stever Theodore, Senior Vice President for Administration and COO; and Dr. Paula Tanner, Vice President for Communications and Special Projects.
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These four Baylor SOE-trained administrators shared some of their experience and and insights on working in higher education at UMHB and about their Baylor experience.



• Cliffa Foster, MSEd ’85, EDD ’01
Chair and Professor, Exercise & Sport Science Department


Foster teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in exercise science and supervises curriculum for four majors: pre-physical therapy, exercise physiology, PE teacher education, and sport management. She’s been at UMHB for a total of 26 years and spend seven of those as head women’s basketball coach. Prior to that, Foster taught and coached in public schools and coached a professional women’s basketball team.

What do you enjoy about working in higher education at UMHB?
I really enjoy the collegiality and the learning atmosphere that higher education offers, specifically the values that Christian Higher Education incorporates into learning. I earned my Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate at private Baptist affiliated institutions and now work at one.  It has been the greatest joy of my life to be trained by faculty in Christian institutions.

Teaching at UMHB allows for small class sizes that continues with the theme of investing in students’ lives and having the opportunity to incorporate practical application into each class.

Working at UMHB also provides opportunities for collegiality across the disciplines. While UMHB has grown extraordinarily in the last 26 years, the approach to interdisciplinary education is still valued by the faculty. It is my greatest joy to teach alongside other faculty members in other colleges and departments at UMHB.

What do you value from you Baylor School of Education degree and the time you spent on the Waco campus?
The faculty and experiences from Baylor continue to make an impact on my life. From my MSEd in 1985, there are a couple of faculty who are still teaching in HHPR that influenced my path to choose teaching. Dr. Margaret Wooddy and Dr. Karen Fredenburg both demonstrated outstanding pedagogical skills and encouraged me to embrace lifelong learning. Because of their influence, I LOVE to teach and see the light come on in the eyes of students.

From my EdD Degree in 2001, I gained so much insight into leadership and administration. Dr. Robert Cloud, Dr. Jimmy Williamson and Dr. Betty Jo Monk were instrumental in helping our cohort experience theory in practice. Fifteen years after taking their courses, traveling around the world to see higher education in real time, I continue to value the influence of their leadership. They truly were scholars of practice, which I try to emulate daily at UMHB.



• Paula Tanner, MA ’82, EdD ’03
Vice President for Communications and Special Projects


Tanner supervises public relations, marketing and university publications at UMBH and leads the planning and staging of university-wide events such as lectures, commencements, convocations, groundbreakings and dedications. She has been at UMHB since 2001, beginning in development and moving to her current position in 2009. Prior to that, she held several positions in writing and publications, including the editorship of the Baylor Line for the Baylor Alumni Association, where she was assistant vice president for marketing and communications.

What do you enjoy about working in higher education at UMHB?
I believe that the two experiences which can have the most positive impact on a person’s life are following the teachings of Jesus Christ and earning a college degree. At UMHB, we offer students opportunities to do both of these, and I believe their experiences here can open doors for them to live fulfilling, meaningful lives. It is gratifying to see how our students change and grow and then go out to make a positive difference in the world around them.

What do you value from you Baylor School of Education degree and the time you spent on the Waco campus?
I met many wonderful people (classmates and professors) during my time in the EdD program, and I gained a much clearer understanding of the issues faced by administrators in higher ed. I particularly enjoyed the study abroad component of the program, when we traveled to Thailand and China; it was fascinating to see how the cultural differences were reflected in the educational systems there, and the beauty of the people and places we visited made a lasting impression on how I view our world.



• Steve Theodore, MSEd ’92, EdD ’03
Senior Vice President for Administration & Chief Operating Officer


Theodore oversees the day-to-day operations at UMHB for Business and Finance, Human Resources, Information Technology, Student Life, Enrollment Management, Athletics, and Campus Planning. He is in his 28th year at UMHB and has worked in most of the departments he now supervises. Before coming to UMHB, where he has spent most of his career, he was a church youth minister.

What do you enjoy about working in higher education at UMHB?
College students are in a very pivotal time in their lives. It's rewarding and encouraging to see them / help them grow in their academic disciplines, athletically, socially, etc. Because UMHB is distinctively Christian, it's also rewarding to see students mature in their faith. It's wonderful to see students make the transition from "their parents' faith" to making it their own. To see students transformed in the few years they are here is extremely fulfilling.

What do you value from you Baylor School of Education degree and the time you spent on the Waco campus?
I appreciated the caring faculty. While I was obtaining my master's degree, I was a young, married man working two jobs and driving to Waco two nights a week to attend classes. When I started my doctoral degree, I had a 4 year old and 6 year old — as well as a full time job. While holding high standards of excellence, the faculty also understood what I (and most others in our program) were going through in order to further our education. Specifically, Mark Bateman and Robert Cloud were especially encouraging to me. Both of them mentored me in ways that still shape how I work and lead. I am grateful to have learned from them.



• Marlene Zipperlen, BSEd ’74, MSED/SPEC ’82, EdD ’02
Dean of College of Education and Director of Doctorate Program


As dean of the College of Education (COE) provides leadership for budgets, planning, evaluations, and all academic programs and functions, including international programs. Zipperlen came to UMHB as dean for the COE in 2003 and was named director of the Doctorate Program in Educational Administration in 2013. Prior to that, she served 30 years in public education as a classroom teacher, counselor, principal and superintendent.

What do you enjoy about working in higher education at UMHB?
My passion is the students, and the students are encouraged in their professional endeavors by a faculty dedicated to model lifelong learning and to foster critical and creative thinking in professional interactions with the students and with the educational communities within our sphere of influence.

I was excited to join the UMHB family after a fulfilling career in public education. While many of the demands on your time are similar, there are unique lessons to be learned. The College of Education does not stand alone; it is important to work with numerous departments with all types of people and with the businesses and school districts in the area to promote teacher education and exercise and sports science fields. The university environment opens up enriching and intentional experiences through opportunities that may include an expert speaker, a classical concert, athletic events or community programming. It provides a pool of diversity, which exposes us to varied culture and talent with the opportunity to learn. Universities help students find their passions and places in the world.

UMHB provides all those things and much more. It is a great place to work because you feel supported and encouraged to grow as an employee and a professional. They provide an environment that encourages me to be innovative, creative, and to love the Lord. UMHB provides me opportunities to help others to grow, to become contributing citizens and to make an impact in the world.

What do you value from you Baylor School of Education degree and the time you spent on the Waco campus?
The Scholars of Practice program was a wonderful opportunity for me to earn a doctorate degree while maintaining a full time job. Many of the graduates of the Baylor program are professional and personal friends, and Baylor is where we met. The faculty had a wealth of knowledge and experiences, and they cultivated a strong bond with us. Dr. Betty Jo Monk continues to be an individual I admire, and we maintain contact. She modeled her Christian faith in her entire demeanor both in and out of the classroom. The program nurtured my growth in leadership.
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