Baylor Arts & Sciences Spring 2014

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Spring 2014

Alumni making their mark in D.C. >> Students Modeling Diplomacy >> Middle East Studies: Old Language, New Perspective >> Baylor’s Art Museum Seeks a Larger Canvas


University’s oldest academic unit, but with 26 departments representing the sciences, the humanities and the arts, we are Baylor’s largest and most diverse academic unit. Indeed, the topics covered in our biannual editions of Baylor Arts & Sciences magazine reflect this variability –– ranging from a concentrated look at the health sciences in the Fall 2013 issue to an emphasis on national and international humanities and social sciences reflected here. Our goal with this issue is to illustrate a theme of global leadership within the College of Arts & Sciences. Baylor’s mission statement says the University seeks to “educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.” The importance of fostering an environment to teach global leadership skills is also found in Baylor’s strategic plan, Pro Futuris, which commits us to provide students with a compelling education as well as give them a foundation for informed engagement. This form of experiential learning is critically important for our students as we help nurture future global leaders to solve world problems, but it can only be successful if our students also learn the necessary cultural competencies. The College of Arts & Sciences supports these leadership endeavors through a number of means –– through our curriculum in general, and more specifically our core curriculum, and through our campus academic programming and special offcampus opportunities, such as study abroad programs and mission trips. We want you to learn more about how the College of Arts & Sciences is helping students prepare for global leadership. This issue of the magazine provides an overview of several

important programs available for our undergraduates to learn more about other languages, cultures and places. These programs –– the Model United Nations, Model Organization of American States and the Model Arab League –– have enjoyed remarkable success because of a combination of outstanding teachers and dedicated students. They have an important impact on students’ lives, and I suspect some national and international leaders will one day emerge from among those who participate. I am always delighted to learn about the amazing accomplishments of our Arts & Sciences alumni. In this issue we focus our attention on the Washington D.C. area and introduce you to 14 successful and prominent alumni from a wide range of fields –– including government service, private industry, museums, religion and athletics. These alums have a profound influence on global issues, from working as appointees of President Obama to serving in important positions in Fortune 500 companies. The prominence of these and other Arts & Sciences graduates complements initiatives being put forth by Baylor President Ken Starr to create a greater presence in our nation’s capitol to promote our University’s unique Christian identify. The Baylor reach is far and wide! In closing, I want to invite our readers to join us on campus for the many wonderful events that happen on a daily basis at Baylor. And please do not hesitate to drop me a line.





Contents 2

Modeling Diplomacy

Capitol Bears

Alumni making their mark in D.C.


Old Language, New Perspective

Preparing to make a difference in the Middle East

Learning the delicate art of international cooperation

26 First Person

William Bellinger on why we must study the Old Testament

28 36

News & Notes Our Back Pages

Baylorizing the Bard



Seeking a Larger Canvas The promise of Baylor’s Martin Museum of Art

Baylor Arts & Sciences is the magazine of the Baylor College of Arts & Sciences that shares news of interest with the Baylor family. As the University’s oldest and largest academic unit, the College of Arts & Sciences is a community of 26 academic departments dedicated to the discovery and dissemination of knowledge. It is the foundation upon which all Baylor students’ educational experiences are built. Baylor Arts & Sciences is produced for the College of Arts & Sciences by Baylor’s Division of Marketing and Communications.

Spring 2014

PRESIDENT Ken Starr | PROVOST Elizabeth Davis | DEAN, COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES Lee Nordt DIVISIONAL DEAN FOR HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES Robyn Driskell | DIVISIONAL DEAN FOR SCIENCES Kenneth T. Wilkins EDITOR Randy Fiedler | CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Julie Carlson, Julie Engrebretson, Dana Wallace PHOTOGRAPHY Matthew Minard, Robert Rogers, iStock | ART DIRECTION & DESIGN Clayton Thompson, Chelsea White DIRECTORS OF DEVELOPMENT Jim Shepelwich, Rose Youngblood


Baylor Arts & Sciences alumni are making their mark in D.C. BY DANA WALLACE

The color scheme traditionally associated with Washington, D.C., is red, white and blue. But thanks to an increasing number of Baylor Arts & Sciences alumni living and working there, more and more green and gold is being flung around our nation’s capital. The growth of Baylor alumni in the area comes as the University is actively taking steps to establish a greater institutional presence in Washington, D.C. Baylor’s mission seeks to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service, and University leaders believe Washington is one of the most effective places Baylor graduates can have an impact on the world. While it would require a lengthy volume to profile all the Baylor Arts & Sciences graduates now in the D.C. area, we’d like to introduce you to 14 exceptional alumni who are making a difference in varying spheres of influence.

Brad Carson (BA IN HISTORY, 1989) >> U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Brad Carson, whom many remember as Baylor’s most recent Rhodes Scholarship recipient, has a career on the fast track. In November 2013, he was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as the Undersecretary of the Army in the Department of Defense –– the second-highest civilian job in the Army. Carson was sworn into office as Undersecretary in March 2014. In his new position, Carson will continue to serve as General Counsel for the Department of the Army, the position he held before being nominated for Undersecretary. As General Counsel, Carson is the legal advisor to the Secretary of the Army as well as being the Army’s Designated Agency Ethics Official. While serving as General Counsel, Carson’s responsibilities have been formidable. With more than a million men and women in uniform, 250,000 civilian employees and the same number of contractors around the world, “Trying to get a handle on the many legal issues that arise in an organization of that size is a great managerial task,” Carson said. In 1989 Carson became the fifth Baylor student in history to be awarded a Rhodes Scholarship. The award allowed him to pursue graduate studies at Trinity College, Oxford. “I was modestly apprehensive that I was there with people that had gone to Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford, that they might have received a better education than I had,” Carson said. “What I found was that Baylor actually prepared me better than those schools did them.” Carson set high goals while at Baylor that eventually led to his representing the state of Oklahoma as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives. However, he never envisioned one day working in a series of positions appointed by the President of the United States. Carson first met President Obama when the two men ran for the U.S. Senate from different states in 2004. Carson lost his election while Obama won, but the future president would tap Carson for the General Counsel job in 2012. “They saw an opening they thought I might be the right fit for,” Carson said. Carson had declined an earlier offer to work for the President to instead serve on active military duty for a year in Iraq, assigned to the Army’s 84th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion Unit. He was awarded a Bronze Star for his intelligence work investigating bombing sites and smuggling routes. “For me to be able to make even a very tiny contribution to the country in that way was something that I really value,” Carson said.


Nuku Ofori (BA IN POLITICAL SCIENCE AND SOCIOLOGY, 1996) >> U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT The world never sleeps, and that means Dr. Nuku Ofori doesn’t get much rest either. Eightyhour work weeks are not uncommon for him in his role as director of House affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of Legislative Affairs. “You anticipate what questions (Capitol Hill) is going to ask about whatever is happening overseas,” Ofori said. Ofori is responsible for gathering information from foreign service officers concerning major international events taking place around the world, and communicating the Obama Administration’s positions to members of the House of Representatives. Recently, he provided information on the role of the U.S. in Syria. “Professionally, it can be very stressful because sometimes there are very high stakes involved,” he said, emphasizing that the decisions being made become a part of history. Ofori believes his Baylor degree has helped him make an impact in his position. “The sociology classes I took at Baylor really opened my mind to analyze things, past surfacelevel observations,” he said. “I learned about critical thinking –– when you read something, (to look at) not only what is behind the message, but what is the context.” Ofori’s future working in Washington was solidified during his junior year at Baylor when he interned in D.C. at the Department of Justice in the civil rights division. He said the experience gave him an invaluable look inside the real workings of government. “It was the merging of politics and policy” and built on his classroom experiences, he said. “(It) was an awesome thing to see, just the sheer amount of work that goes into keeping our democracy going.”

Melissa Rogers (BA IN HISTORY 1988) >> THE WHITE HOUSE The story of the Good Samaritan provides focus for Melissa Rogers in the work she does as special assistant to President Obama and executive director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. “The Good Samaritan might not have been expected to help the man he encountered who had been beaten and robbed, but he did,” Rogers said. “I think a lot about the words of Jesus in that story when he turns to the people who were listening to the story and cites the Good Samaritan’s compassion and says to the rest of us, ‘Go and do likewise.’” In the White House position she has held since March 2013, Rogers forms partnerships with both religious and secular community groups to serve people in need. She also works on church-state issues on behalf of the Obama Administration. “I’m grateful to be working for a president who cares so deeply about helping all Americans have a fair chance at success in life,” she said. How frequently Rogers interacts with the president depends on the issues of the day. “There are sometimes issues where something will need to be decided and sometimes decided quickly,”

President Barack Obama meets with Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett, Melissa Rogers, Executive Director of the White House Office for FaithBased and Neighborhood Partnerships; and Paul Monteiro, Director of Religious Outreach, Office of Public Engagement, in the Oval Office, Aug. 26, 2013. (Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

she said. “So we are active in preparing memoranda and making sure the president has all the information that he would need to make a decision.” Rogers has always had a strong interest in service and in government. During her time at Baylor she was active in Steppin’ Out and the Freshman Leadership Organization, and she helped form the nation’s first campus chapter of Habitat for Humanity at the University. She is a Baylor legacy, with a grandfather, parents and several relatives who have attended Baylor. In her current role, Rogers returned to the Baylor campus in October 2013 for the Hunger Summit, hosted by the Texas Hunger Initiative and coordinated through the Baylor School of Social Work. “That’s a connection with Baylor that I was thrilled to be able to continue,” said Rogers, who also maintains ties with Baylor through professors conducting scholarly research related to her work. “It shows that Baylor is really making a mark in the world both in Texas and nationally.”

Emily Nicholson and husband Rob Simcox in front of the U.S. Capitol Building

Emily Nicholson (BA IN MUSEUM STUDIES, HISTORY AND LATIN, 2003) >> NEWSEUM At the Newseum, a museum in Washington, D.C., that showcases five centuries of news history using up-to-thesecond technology, Emily Nicholson is surrounded by television all day, but she’s no news junkie. What Nicholson is passionate about is the First Amendment. “The power of the press as a watchdog is important. I value that,” she said. An internship at the Newseum and a connection with a Baylor alumnus who worked there helped land her the job. As the Newseum’s campaign director, Nicholson builds relationships with donors and gets to know their passions. She began work at the museum in 2003. Three years later, she had the opportunity to start the museum’s development office as it was launching a campaign to raise money to build a new facility, just down the street from the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue. “I was given a lot of opportunities at a young age,” Nicholson said. While she has given museum tours to princes, billionaires and celebrities, taking part in a Food Network “Dinner Impossible” challenge for the Newseum remains one of Nicholson’s most treasured memories. Network news


anchors including David Gregory, George Stephanopoulos and Greta Van Susteren gave her various challenges as she worked to pull together an event that would feed 350 people. “I love saying around the office, ‘Back in the day when I was on reality TV’” Nicholson said. “It was just one show, but it was the thrill of a lifetime.” For Nicholson, her Baylor connections have extended beyond her professional career into her personal life. She met her husband through a Baylor alumna, an intern at the White House who introduced the couple during a tour of the Executive Mansion. The person leading that tour was also a fellow alumna –– Baylor Regent Kathy Wills Wright. The Baylor Women’s Council provides regular opportunities for Nicholson to connect with other alumni in the D.C. area. At the group’s cookie exchange one Christmas, she made “Ken Starr stars.” “At some point I realized I wasn’t going to win the tastiest, so I decided to go for the Baylor spirit category,” Nicholson joked.

Laura Stewart (BA IN PROFESSIONAL WRITING 2006; MA IN ORGANIZATIONAL AND INTERPERSONAL COMMUNICATION 2007) >> LOCKHEED MARTIN In her job as Lockheed Martin’s executive communications program manager, Laura Stewart works out of the global aerospace company’s corporate headquarters in a Washington suburb. She said that working for Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson, whom Forbes magazine named the 34th most powerful woman in America, is no small task. “We are a Fortune 100 company, and (Hewson) is very highly involved with a lot of organizations. She has many, many opportunities to speak,” Stewart said. Stewart is part of a team that writes speeches for the CEO, develops the corporate messaging for the company’s 116,000 worldwide employees and plans company events. “I could not have imagined being able to do what I do when I was still in school,” she said, pointing out that by shaping the messaging she is helping shape the direction of her company. Stewart’s work requires extensive observation, staying up with current events and conducting research. To help her best convey the voice of the CEO in the speeches she writes, Stewart reads transcripts of Hewson’s old speeches and listens to recordings.

“It has to be authentic to her,” Stewart said. Before moving to corporate headquarters in 2013, Stewart worked for Lockheed Martin’s aeronautics division in Texas. While there, she received the organization’s highest honor, the Exceptional Service NOVA award, which recognizes one employee each year who has made extraordinary contributions to the company’s success. She won the award after her communication efforts to staff, union members and employees during a 10-week strike proved crucial. Lockheed Martin was on a tight deadline to manufacture the F-35 Lightning fighter jet, which accounts for one third of the company’s portfolio. “It was a time of major growth for me, both personally and in my career,” Stewart said.

“It was a time of major growth for me, both personally and in my career,”

Liz Duston Reed (BA IN FILM AND DIGITAL MEDIA 2003; MA IN COMMUNICATION STUDIES 2006) >> THE SCIENCE CHANNEL Question everything. That’s the motto of Discovery Communications’ Science Channel, where Liz Duston Reed is a production coordinator. “Our content really does dig deep. We’re innovators. We seek to expose the latest in science and to share that with the world,” said Duston Reed, who enjoys sharing her love for storytelling. Duston Reed began working at the Science Channel after a Baylor connection helped her get her foot in the door. In her current role, she provides support for producers of the channel’s various programs. One day she may rewrite a script, the next she might develop the title for a new program. One of her specific assignments is to work on “How Do They Do It,” a show that originated in Britain. Duston Reed’s responsibility is to Americanize it. “The best part of my job is getting to work with so many creative people. That was my goal coming out of school,” Duston Reed said. “To be here accomplishing that, I pinch myself every day.” While the Science Channel’s motto is question everything, Duston Reed has found some of her own answers to life along the way. “One of my favorite quotes of all times is, ‘It takes courage to be creative.’ I see that every day here, coming up with an idea and believing in it,” she said. Duston Reed applies that philosophy to her life away from work, where she and her husband run a mixed media Web comic, Cuddles and Rage, which has taken them from New York to Los Angeles. Asked for a tip she’d have for Baylor students, Duston Reed said that social media sites like YouTube now make it possible for young producers to succeed. “Anything is possible,” she said. “The best way to learn is to share your work.”


Amy Butler (BA IN RELIGION AND POLITICAL SCIENCES 1991; MA IN CHURCH HISTORY 1996) >> CALVARY BAPTIST CHURCH Dr. Amy Butler pastors a historic church just 10 blocks from the White House. Calvary Baptist has a long history of social justice that includes being the first white Baptist church in Washington, D.C., to admit an African-American member in the 1950s, and the first to open a homeless shelter for women in the District of Columbia. The church called Rev. Butler as its first female pastor in 2003. Butler said that when she was growing up, she learned that the best way for a girl to serve Jesus was to marry a pastor. She held that view until she attended Baylor, where a History of Baptists class with Dr. Rosalie Beck changed her life. “That was the foundation of my whole theological framework,” Butler said, explaining that in the class she began to understand the impact that women could have in the church. At the same time, she believed deeply in the Baptist distinctives about which she was learning. It was during a visit to Waco’s Lakeshore Baptist Church that Butler first heard a woman deliver a sermon. “I thought maybe I could do this, too,” she said. Lakeshore later licensed Butler to the ministry. A summer internship working for Senator Daniel Akaka (D - Hawaii) further prepared her to one day live in Washington and pastor Calvary Baptist Church. Butler said the DNA of her church encourages the congregation to be welcoming and inclusive. “I think that from a theological standpoint that’s what the body of Christ looks like –– all different people gathered around the table,” she said. While her conversations often include talk of being a woman serving in a pastoral role, Butler prefers to focus on the impact she desires to have. “What drives me in my work and in my calling is this passionate belief that God is in the midst of transforming our world,” she said. “I want to be about the gospel.”

More Capitol Bears Other Baylor Arts & Sciences alumni in Washington D.C. have been in the news lately. U.S. Rep Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) (BA ’86) has emerged as one of the leading Republican conservatives in Congress with his passionate speeches on the House floor. He is best known as the sponsor of the ENFORCE the Law Act. Michelle Smith (BA ’91) began her Washington career working in the mailroom of Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen. She now serves as chief of staff and top public affairs officer for the Federal Reserve, and was recently described in a Washington Post article as “one of the most powerful women no one has ever heard of.” Russ Sullivan (BA ’83), a former Baylor student body president, worked as a staff aide on Capitol Hill before becoming a lobbyist. In 2013 he was honored by Politico as one of the magazine’s “50 Politicos to Watch.” Other Arts & Sciences alumni in D.C. include Ashley Killough (BA ’09), an associate producer with CNN’s political unit in Washington, Julia Nelson (BA ’06), a contract assessment and planning specialist for the State Department’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, and Daniel Abernathy (BA ’11), a web developer at the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Oh yeah, there’s one more Arts & Sciences graduate in D.C. we want to mention…

Robert Griffin III (BA IN POLITICAL SCIENCE 2010) >> WASHINGTON REDSKINS There’s a good chance that Robert Griffin III will remain the most well-known Baylor Arts & Sciences alumnus in the D.C. area for years to come. As quarterback for the Washington Redskins, Griffin has survived injuries and stiff competition during his two years with the NFL franchise. Griffin played a major role in the resurgence of Baylor football, guiding the Bears to their first bowl game in 16 years and attracting national attention by winning Baylor’s first Heisman Trophy in 2011. Griffin married his college sweetheart Rebecca Liddicoat in July 2013, and the couple lives in a Washington suburb in Virginia. Baylor alumni in D.C. enjoy having RGIII in town. “He brought so much hope to people at Baylor, and he’s brought so much hope to the Redskins. It’s been a lot of fun to have him up here and for people to really notice Baylor,” Emily Nicholson said. “He’s made Baylor proud,” Brad Carson said. “I rooted him on at Baylor, but it’s been fun to have him here in the D.C. area where he’s really a hero to people.” And Calvary Baptist Church pastor Dr. Amy Butler wants to extend Griffin a public invitation. “My main thought about him is, ‘He needs to come to Calvary,’” she said.


Baylor students are learning the delicate art of international cooperation through competition BY JULIE CARLSON

When you think of intense competition at Baylor, spirited physical contests in football, basketball and other sports usually come to mind first. But three groups of Baylor students regularly excel in competitions no less intense that mirror the high-stakes world of international diplomacy and law. These are Baylor’s “Model” teams –– the Model United Nations, Model Organization of American States and Model Arab League –– and each has great success supporting the University’s mission of preparing graduates for worldwide leadership and service. As their names suggest, Baylor’s Model teams simulate the activities of their real-life organizations.

MODEL UNITED NATIONS International role-play competitions have been part of American collegiate life since the early 20th century, when students simulated the activities of the League of Nations. Baylor’s United Nations team is the oldest of its three model programs and began competition in the early 1960s. The size of a school’s Model U.N. delegation determines the nation that team will represent in competition. Teams must research their assigned nation’s policy in regard to foreign policy areas including international security, economic policy and socialhumanitarian efforts. Delegates then act as diplomats for their assigned nation. In 2011 and 2012, Baylor teams were recognized as an “Outstanding Delegation” at the National Model United Nations Conference in New York City. They routinely excel at prestigious collegiate conferences, with students receiving individual recognition for their skills in addition to group honors. “The Baylor program has a long history of doing well in competitions, but the real goal is to teach students to research and apply what they learn in the realm of international relations, and to gain communications and negotiation skills,” said Rebecca J. Flavin, a lecturer in political science who serves as Model U.N. program advisor. Baylor’s Model U.N. has about 30 active members. Half of those are enrolled in a political science course that provides an overview of the U.N. and focuses on preparation for competition. This year, Baylor students will represent the nation of Belize at the National Model U.N. conference. “Approximately 50 percent of the competitors in New York are international students. It feels like the United Nations,” Flavin said.


During the 2013-14 academic year, Baylor will also represent Kyrgyzstan at the American Model U.N. conference in Chicago, compete at the Howard Payne University MUN Security Council Simulation and host a conference for high school students. “We are fortunate because Baylor allocates funding for us,” Flavin said. “Because of that, we can select a team based on merit and not on who can afford to travel.”

“I became so immersed in the work…I had to remind myself that it was only a simulation.”

“I became so immersed in the work we were doing, I can remember having a strong reaction to the way we decided the case. I had to remind myself that it was only a simulation,” Clark said. Membership on Baylor’s Model U.N. team isn’t limited to students majoring in political science. It draws students from a variety of disciplines. “There is a misconception that a student has to major in prelaw or political science or foreign service, but that isn’t true,” Flavin said. “We’ve had a biology major who could talk knowledgably on water issues and a pre-med student who had expertise in vaccinations.” As if to prove the point, the current head delegate of Baylor’s Model U.N. team is Anthem, Ariz., senior Tyler Kopas, a professional selling major. “I have learned that everybody brings something to the table. Whether it is here at Baylor or when we are at competitions, everybody has a skill that can benefit the group as a whole,” Kopas said.

Tiffany Clark of Humble, Texas, a master’s degree candidate in international relations, participated in the International Criminal Court simulation during a National Model U.N. conference. Her research topics dealt with the Gaddafi regime in Libya and the use of child soldiers.

MODEL ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES The Organization of American States was founded in 1948 to foster solidarity and cooperation between 35 independent nations in the Americas. Its main pillars are democracy, human rights, security and development. Baylor began its Model OAS program in 1997 and is one of the founding teams in the region. The 2013 regional conference was held at Baylor and featured 18 delegations, including two schools from Mexico. Baylor had one of the larger teams and won a number of individual and team awards. “Schools that participated in the conference were assigned a country by lottery before the semester,” Dr. Joan Supplee, professor of history and faculty Model OAS sponsor, said. “We have two teams and we were assigned to represent Peru and Argentina. Those are big players in the OAS, so we were excited.” Model OAS competitions are a multiple-step process. Students not only have to research general information about every participating country, but also must determine where each stands on issues. Team members write position papers on various topics and the team’s head delegate then integrates all the pieces into a whole.

Prizes are awarded for the top two position papers. Once the competition begins, each team tries to rally other delegations to sign onto their resolutions. Five signatures are needed to bring the resolution to debate. Baylor team member Pia Lawrence, a senior double majoring in finance and international business, values her participation. “Being in MOAS has transformed my marketability and skill set in ways I never would have imagined,” Lawrence said. “The most important lesson is how to interact with other people. If you always speak kindly to people, listen to and respect their ideas, and learn how to diplomatically turn down their ideas or have a debate, you will go so much farther in life. The valuable lesson is, ‘Never aggressive, sometimes assertive, always diplomatic.’” University Scholar major Christina Mendez, a Brownsville, Texas, senior, said the Model OAS has expanded her problem-solving abilities. “One of the most valuable things I’ve learned is to be interdisciplinary in how I approach things,” she said. “A good resolution that will make it through committee shows that you have thought about the problem from different perspectives.

There is no one right solution, so we have learned that combining the best of different solutions is the way to go.” Baylor consistently does well in two other Model OAS conferences –– the national conference held in Washington, D.C., and the international conference held in an OAS member country. “The national (conference) has 50 percent of its participants from the U.S. and 50 percent from the Americas. It is held in English,” Supplee said. “The international (conference), by contrast, is held in Spanish. We always represent a country other than the U.S., and students have learned that it is difficult to walk in the shoes of another country.” Baylor is the only American university that sends a delegation to the international conference. Mendez, who attended the 2013 conference, said it’s a valuable experience. “The international conference really highlighted how ‘small’ we are in comparison to the whole world,” she said. “Participants hailed from Colombia, Venezuela, Canada, El Salvador and even France, and what I took for granted as core values and goals, they did not. It was an interesting range of perspective and an eyeopening experience to reevaluate my beliefs in economics, politics and even morality.”

“There is no one right solution, so we have learned that combining the best of different solutions is the way to go.”


MODEL ARAB LEAGUE The Arab League is a regional organization of countries in Africa and Southwest Asia formed in 1945 that currently has 22 member states. The Model Arab League allows students to simulate the activities of the Arab League. The first such simulation was held in 1983, and Baylor has taken part in the program since the late 1990s. “We have represented most of the countries in the Middle East and North Africa, and it can be challenging,” Dr. Mark Long, director of Middle East Studies and associate professor in the Honors College, said. “There are usually some hot topics, such as the Arab Spring, the Palestine-Israeli conflict and issues regarding refugees. But our students enjoy the role-play.” Model Arab League competitors confront current issues that many of today’s leading scholars and politicians are still struggling to fully understand. “During last year’s conference, delegates were required to discuss the status of Syria and solve a mock crisis between Israel and Egypt,” said participant Ashley Bergfield, a senior political science and international studies double major. “These conflicts are current international dilemmas that we as college students are seeking to solve –– a difficult but necessary task for future leaders.”

“These conflicts [we research and discuss] are current international dilemmas that we as college students are seeking to solve.”

At the Southwest Regional Conference, held each spring, participants can earn awards for outstanding delegates, and the team can receive an outstanding delegation award. Baylor’s Model Arab League team has the reputation of being a team to beat in regional competition, winning significant awards almost every year during the last decade and a half. In a letter sent to Dr. Long after the 2008 Southwest Regional, the competition’s Secretary General praised the Baylor team. “Baylor brought delegates that were well-read, well-spoken and professional by every meaning of the word,” the official wrote. “One thing that stood out to me regarding the Baylor team was their keen knowledge about all aspects of the Arab world… While I was speaking to Baylor delegates, I felt as if I was speaking to students who had lived in the Arab world and saw the culture, history and passion of the Arab people first hand.” The Model Arab League program attracts students from across the academic disciplines, and Bergfield believes the competitions enhance material taught in the classroom. “Many times, students are exposed to material in the form of a textbook. However, they are oftentimes not asked to apply their knowledge to real life situations,” Bergfield said. “Model Arab League offers valuable skills to students of any major by challenging them to research topics, understand foreign cultures, interact with others, construct policies and negotiate with others who may have differing beliefs.” One thing that all three of Baylor’s model diplomatic teams have in common is that team members serve as wonderful ambassadors for the University. “I find myself learning about other universities through these competitions as well,” Model U.N. competitor Tyler Kopas said. “Individuals that may have never heard of Baylor now get a chance to work side by side with some of our best and brightest students, and it really helps build the global brand of this great university.”


Baylor students are preparing to make a difference in the Middle East As events in the Middle East continue to make headlines, Baylor University is offering students the chance to choose a field of study that prepares them for leadership positions in that important part of the world. A new major, Arabic and Middle East Studies, was introduced in June 2013 to meet the growing desire of Baylor students to live, work and serve in a region that plays an ever-increasing role in international affairs. A 2006 study conducted by the Modern Language Association found that enrollment in Arabic language courses among college


students had skyrocketed by 126 percent since 2002 — an increase fueled by the aftermath of 9/11. That number grew by another 50 percent between 2006 and 2009, making Arabic the eighth most studied foreign language among U.S. colleges and universities. As events surrounding the ongoing “Arab Spring” maintain a heightened level of interest in the region, Dr. Mark Long, director of Middle East studies, said Baylor’s new major can stand out among the top such programs in the nation. “Most of the flourishing Middle East studies programs

around the country are at secular institutions,” Long said. “Why not host such a program at Baylor? We prepare students for worldwide leadership and service. We also believe our destiny is tied to the Middle East. That belief and this kind of rigorous preparation belong together.” Arabic language courses have been offered at Baylor since the 1990s, and a minor in Middle East Studies was introduced in 2001. So when native Syrian Dr. Abjar Bahkou joined the Baylor faculty in 2009 as a lecturer in Arabic, the infrastructure for a new major was coming together.

“When I began teaching, there were only four elementary Arabic courses offered,” Bahkou said. “I helped develop four additional courses, and in 2010 we were approved to offer a minor in Arabic.” It wasn’t long before students who had completed Bahkou’s more advanced courses told him they wanted to continue their studies in Arabic. “The minor in Arabic evolved into a major purely due to student demand,” he said. “There were already courses offered in Middle East culture and history, so creating a new major was a matter of combining these with a language component.”

The requirements for Baylor’s new major are quite rigorous. Interested students must first develop a foundational proficiency in the Arabic language as a prerequisite to even declare the major — no easy task for nonnative speakers. “There are eight required credits of Arabic that aren’t even applied to your degree,” Dr. Abdul-Massih Saadi, assistant professor of Arabic, said. “The idea is that students have to be able to read, write and understand elementary Arabic so that they may continue their study.” Arabic and Middle East Studies major Katherine Matthews, a

Baylor freshman, had studied only one other language –– Latin –– before exploring Arabic. “To say it’s challenging is an understatement,” she said. “My eight years of studying Latin was mostly on paper or translating ancient documents. But actually learning a different script and hearing Arabic as it is spoken today has been truly enlightening.” Matthews hopes to one day enter the U.S. Air Force as a Second Lieutenant with enough Arabic language proficiency to become a translator. Besides preparing for careers in the military and with intelligence agencies, Baylor students earning continued on next page >>

9/11 was already forming my understanding of Islam and Arabs.” Now that Brothers is studying the Arabic language and Islamic culture, he finds himself working to “unlearn” many of the stereotypes and misconceptions he has held. “In my classes, we host Muslim guest speakers and have intense discussions where I have strongly defended my opinions,” Brothers said. “But often after the discussion I have stepped back and thought, ‘Why do I believe this?’” Bahkou said students come to the classroom harboring a number of misconceptions that he hopes to correct — not the least of which is the belief that Islam is synonymous with radicalism. “I want students to know that not all Muslims are terrorists,” he said.

“My studies have made an otherwise alien world familiar to me.” John Brothers, student Dr. Abjar Bahkou (right) and student Jeremy Feghali


a degree in Arabic and Middle East Studies will find many professional avenues open to them. “Graduates will find a number of companies that would welcome their cultural and language expertise,” Long said. “The same goes for nongovernmental organizations and government organizations like the Peace Corps. The major is also great preparation for graduate school.” In addition to learning the Arabic language, students in the major often find themselves unlearning things about the peoples and culture of the Middle East. The students were in grade school on Sept. 11, 2001, when terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City. “I was in third grade,” John Brothers, a junior majoring in Arabic and Middle East Studies, remembered. “I had no idea that

Bahkou’s Christian faith is rooted in the Syriac Orthodox tradition, and he and his Christian colleague, Dr. Saadi, spent much of their childhood and young adulthood in the same monastic order in Damascus. “We should do our best to be fair. God so loved the world, including the Muslim world,” Bahkou said. A native Syrian student, Baylor junior Lana Joudeh, is taking classes in advanced Arabic in order to improve her writing and reading skills. She also wants to see cultural misconceptions examined as part of her studies. “In my opinion, a misconception about Muslims and Arabs is that they are disrespectful toward women –– that is, they treat women as lesser beings,” Joudeh said. “Through the study of the Arabic language and culture, students will realize how much women — mothers especially — are respected and cherished in their world.”

Brothers and other students are spending the spring 2014 semester taking part in an intensive Arabic immersion program in Jordan. He hopes that the new major will discourage many widely held and misplaced fears about the Middle East. “My studies have made an otherwise alien world familiar to me,” Brothers said. “If we can put a couple of faces to the fear — faces of good Arabs, Muslims and Arab-Americans –– maybe we can improve relations and leave our ignorance behind.” It’s almost impossible for students to fully understand the Arabic language without understanding the culture it springs from, so the new major emphasizes placing students in learning environments that immerse them in Arabic culture. One means of immersion is to offer students opportunities to study in other countries at places such as the Center for Arabic Study Abroad at the American University in Cairo. Saadi offers his students another means of cultural immersion closer to home by inviting them to break bread with his family on a regular basis.

“I consider the classroom only part of our role as teachers,” Saadi said. “One thing I do is host a meal at Penland Dining Hall each week and bring my family or our friends so that students can join us and get practice speaking the Arabic language.” Matthews remembers the first time she joined Saadi’s family for a meal. “I sheepishly introduced myself in Arabic, and Dr. Saadi’s wife gave me a puzzled look. Obviously I had said it incorrectly,” Matthews said. “But after some time conversing, my perspective on the language changed and it became much more tangible and real. Arabic has colloquialisms and slang — and I have a lot to learn.”

“The idea is that students have to be able to read, write and understand elementary Arabic so that they may continue their study.” Dr. Abdul-Massih Saadi

Dr. Abdul-Massih Saadi helps students gain a proficiency in Arabic language and culture.


Seeking a Larger Canvas

Baylor’s Martin Museum of Art is thriving despite cramped quarters BY JULIE CARLSON

A traveling exhibition of works by famed American photographer Ansel Adams in fall 2013 brought more people to Baylor’s Martin Museum of Art in just over two months than had visited the museum during the entire previous academic year. It’s no secret that the Martin Museum of Art consistently offers a wide range of impressive art exhibits –– albeit temporary ones –– to the public. They have ranged from traveling displays of works by nationally and internationally known artists to semiannual collections featuring the work of Baylor faculty and students.

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“Ballerina Vera Fokina,” painting by Nicolai Fechin dated 1927

“We have been entrusted with extraordinary pieces, and it is our duty to exhibit them in a quality way.”

– Karin Gilliam

But what’s not so well known is that most of the museum’s permanent collection –– works owned by Baylor –– remains safely locked away, even though its quality rivals or even exceeds the works that do receive public viewings. Here’s just one example. About two years ago, museum director Karin Gilliam was visiting Baylor’s Jones Library when she noticed a large painting of a ballerina hanging on a wall. On closer examination, she became convinced that she was looking at an original work by famed Russian artist Nicolai Fechin, whose paintings can sell for millions of dollars. Gilliam promptly contacted Christie’s, the renowned auction house, and it dispatched two art experts to Baylor to inspect the work. “Their jaws dropped open when they saw the painting,” Gilliam said. “They didn’t need to inspect it closely. They knew it was a Fechin. We discovered it had been donated to the University in the 1970s by U.S. Senator William Blakley, and it is now part of the Martin Museum of Art’s permanent collection.” Sadly, that painting –– Ballerina Vera Fokina –– is now in storage because the museum lacks the space to put it on permanent display. It’s a fate shared by hundreds of other works in Baylor’s permanent collection, which include paintings by well-known artists such as Rembrandt and Rauschenberg.

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Visitors to th e Martin Mus eum of Art the works of view famed phot ographer A Adams in a nsel fall 2013 ex hibit. It was example of just one the museum disp many exhibits put on by laying famou the s works.

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“We have the collection to have a first-class museum. We just need space to display the collection properly,” Gilliam said. “Baylor could have a museum that would be on par with some of the finest university art museums in the U.S. We have been entrusted with extraordinary pieces, and it is our duty to exhibit them in a quality way.”

“The Martin Museum of Art is a valuable asset to our academic program.” –Mark Anderson

As the only actively collecting art museum between Austin and Dallas, the Martin Museum of Art’s permanent collection has grown to more than 1,500 pieces. However, the space available to the museum only has room for two galleries, each about 1,000 square feet in size. That modest gallery space is fully used to accommodate traveling and perennial exhibits, so except for occasional special displays designed to show off selected pieces, the permanent collection sits safe inside its storage site. Baylor is aware of the need for more museum space for art on campus. Long-range plans envision more museum space that could be in closer proximity to existing programs in art, film and digital media, theater and music, allowing for more interaction between the disciplines. In the meantime, although its permanent collection might lack a permanent home, Baylor has found ways to put it to good use. 24 / BAYLOR ARTS & SCIENCES

“We have plans to start a program called Art on the Move that takes original artwork from the permanent collection into Central Texas school classrooms.” Gilliam said. “The program promotes cultural literacy and familiarizes students with an art museum.” At the same time, the museum itself continues to play an integral role in inspiring and teaching artists on campus. “The Martin Museum of Art is a valuable asset to our academic program because of the exhibitions that relate to the courses we teach, as well as exhibits of student and faculty work,” Mark Anderson, chair and professor of art, said. “Faculty in both studio art and art history take their classes there to view exhibitions, hear speakers related to the exhibits and to write papers concerning the artwork.” Each year, the museum hosts a student exhibition in which the best student work is selected for display by a well-known artist, who also serves as the exhibition juror. The winning students are awarded cash prizes during the exhibit’s opening reception. The Martin Museum of Art also serves to enrich the greater Central Texas area. A dedicated group of ambassadors known as the Martin Museum Art Angels has been very successful in helping promote the museum’s activities throughout the community. The group was formed in 2005 and gives their support and fundraising abilities to the museum to help with conservation, the purchase of new artworks and boosting museum attendance. “Thanks to the Art Angels and their support, the Martin Museum of Art is seen as an important cultural destination not only for Baylor, but also for the community,” Anderson said. For more information on Baylor art programs and ways to support them, visit

“Return of the Prodigal Son,” etching by Rembrandt van Rijn, dated 1636

First Person

Dr. William H. Bellinger, chair and professor of religion at Baylor, is the 2013 recipient of the Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year Award, presented each year to a faculty member who makes outstanding contributions to the learning environment. The following First Person essay is taken from the public lecture made by Dr. Bellinger when he received the teaching award. 26 / BAYLOR ARTS & SCIENCES

I believe that one of the central dimensions of a Baylor liberal arts education needs to continue to be the study of the Old Testament or Hebrew Scriptures.

Reason No. 1 Appeals to the Hebrew Scriptures continue in political and cultural discourse in our society, often on opposing sides of issues. The Bible continues to be a powerful presence in books, the media and the arts. Evaluating contemporary interpretations of the largest section of the Bible –– the Old Testament –– in church-related matters, in politics, in the media and in conversations is a significant need in our society’s efforts to thrive. For example, the story of the battle of Jericho in Joshua 6 is at times used to justify military action today. Students who have studied that text in the Christian Scriptures course are better able to evaluate such claims. So, the first reason I would give for attending to the Old Testament in a Baylor liberal arts education is to help meet the needs of our civil society. An educated person needs to be able to evaluate the use of the Bible in the discourse of our society. It is part of being a good world citizen. Why bother with the Old Testament in a Baylor liberal arts education? So our graduates can appropriately evaluate contemporary interpretations of the Bible, including their own, and thus participate in an informed way in our society’s discourse.

Reason No. 2 Study of the Hebrew Scriptures requires us to examine assumptions that shape life in ways of which we may be unaware. Thinking deeply about texts which come from a very

different context than ours can help us develop a narrative and poetic imagination and realize that there are other histories beyond our own, and thus other communities and other persons. For example, study of the Psalms, the central prayer book of the Old Testament, reveals an honest dialogue of faith more vibrant than many experience today. Such a life of prayer is characterized by the wedding of emotion and intellect, remarkable candor, a centering in the divine-human relationship and awareness of the joy and pain of life. Seriously reading and hearing and singing the Psalms challenges the tyranny of our tired and unexamined assumptions about the lives we live. The study of the Old Testament as a part of a liberal arts education in that way contributes mightily to a transformative education. The art of reading critically and charitably can lead to epiphanies that liberate us from the snare of our unexamined assumptions about life, the tyranny of habit.

Reason No. 3 Serious, critical and charitable reading of the major works of the western intellectual tradition and of world literature is at the heart of a liberal arts education. One of the reasons I emphasize such a view is that I hope the partakers of a Baylor liberal arts education enjoy lives characterized by both service and learning. I believe our University can and should be enormously proud of the lives of service and leadership our graduates live. The service mentality of Baylor graduates is laudable. I also believe we

have some ways to go to get to a comparable place on the intellectual side of the equation. I hope people with a Baylor liberal arts education will see their undergraduate education as a base from which to soar and continue to read critically and charitably and greatly deepen their intellectual lives based on their time at Baylor. In my view, that will deepen and broaden the impact of our graduates on our world, a world frightfully in need of an intelligent form of leadership and service. If Baylor graduates can learn how to and be motivated to read attentively –– that is, critically and charitably –– our world will be better. I hope the partakers of a Baylor liberal arts education will read widely in the world of literature. I also hope that they will seriously continue to read the Old Testament. The shapers of the Jewish and Christian canon reflect the experience of those communities of faith and the nudging of the divine –– that these texts nurture and measure full life and faith. My own experience is that when we find the shaping and nurturing of full and faithful living in later literature, it has a base and rich context in the biblical canon. Such serious reading is essential to an uncoerced faith, a hallmark of Baptist tradition. The art of reading is at the core of a liberal arts education and a vibrant life. These reasons for studying the Old Testament as part of a Baylor liberal arts education contribute much to the University’s mission of preparing women and men for worldwide leadership and service in the context of our academic, Christian and community commitments.

THE GIFT OF LIFE Dillon Gasper (right) with bone marrow recipient Billy Allison

WORKING FOR DR. PHIL Chloe Fisher, a junior theater performance major from Plano, is minoring in film and digital media and spent the fall 2013 semester doing an internship at the “Dr. Phil” show in Los Angeles. The talk show, hosted by clinical psychologist Phil McGraw, provides its guests with advice in the form of “life strategies” from Dr. Phil’s professional experience and training. Fisher said her time working for McGraw was “an incredible experience. I (did) everything from answering phones to hands-on work for a taping of the show. Every day I learned something new.” Before she left, Fisher was successful in getting Dr. Phil to learn a cherished Baylor tradition. “When I asked Dr. Phil if he would do a ‘Sic ‘em’ with me, all he asked was that I teach him how,” she said. “He’s from Texas, so he is familiar with Baylor, and he actually lived in Waco for a brief time.” 28 /BAYLOR ARTS & SCIENCES

Baylor pre-health biology major Dillon Gasper didn’t know when he registered as a bone marrow donor that he would end up helping a Missouri man in his battle against leukemia. While taking part in the Waco Miracle Match Marathon in January 2013, Gasper, a junior from Seattle, joined the national bone marrow registry. Months after the race, he learned that he was a genetic match for 65-year-old Billy Allison of Puxico, Mo. Allison, who lost three brothers to cancer, had been battling Stage 4 leukemia for more than a year and had lost hope in finding a stem cell donation. But in October Gasper underwent a procedure to extract bone marrow stem cells from his blood. The cells were eventually transplanted into Allison, who is in remission. Gasper and Allison met for the first time in September 2013 at a Baylor “Be the Match” awareness and donor registration drive for students.

Briefs Two Baylor students have been selected to receive prestigious Goldwater Scholarships. Ian Boys, a senior University Scholar major from Allen, and Rebecca Holden, a senior chemistry major from Allen, are among 283 undergraduates from 47 states to be named 2014 Goldwater Scholars. In addition, Baylor student Thomas Gibson, a senior mathematics and Russian double major from Houston, has received a Goldwater Scholarship honorable mention recognition. The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program was established by Congress in 1986 in honor of the former U.S. senator to “provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue research careers in these fields.�

(L to R) Ian Boys, Rebecca Holden, Thomas Gibson

A handmade booklet she made for her boyfriend in an effort to help him better understand her has now turned into a published book for an Arts & Sciences student. Makenzie Hagestad, a junior apparel merchandising major from Colleyville, has had her book Guide to Your Girlfriend: A Personalized Map for Your Boyfriend published by Brown Books. It provides answers, tips and step-by-step instructions on how to avoid everyday pitfalls in dating relationships.

Multitalented Baylor junior Savion Wright passed his initial audition to become a contestant on American Idol in midJanuary with flying colors, wowing the judges by singing an original song as he accompanied himself on guitar. Savion, a medical humanities major from Jasper, Texas, made it through the fourth week of the competition.

WHEN EARWAX SPEAKS, THEY LISTEN Scientific research done by two Arts & Sciences faculty members has sparked interest and news coverage around the world. Dr. Stephen Trumble, professor of biology, and Dr. Sascha Usenko, associate professor of environmental science, have developed a novel technique to reconstruct contaminant and hormone profiles for whales using their earwax. Earplugs are harvested from deceased whales and then analyzed for exposure to hormones such as cortisol, testosterone, and organic contaminants such as mercury and pesticides. The earwax can show – for the first time – pollutant exposure and hormones profiles from birth to death for whales, information that was previously unattainable. “Whales are free-ranging animals and you can’t get these types of profiles or information on free-ranging animals in any part of the world. This has never been done before,” Trumble said. With the collected data, the professors are able to assess the human impact on individual whales and multiple generations, as well as marine ecosystems.

Dr. Sascha Usenko (left) and Dr. Stephen J. Trumble



Research done by Dr. Bryan Shaw, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has determined that baby photographs might be able to reveal a certain type of cancer in an early stage. Shaw’s son Noah, shown in the photos below, was diagnosed with an eye cancer known as retinoblastoma when he was just months old. Shaw’s wife had noticed that in some photos, Noah experienced “red eye” — but one of his eyes looked milky-white, not red. Further research determined that digital photography could indeed reveal the syndrome leading to a diagnosis of retinoblastoma.

Briefs Dr. Corey Carbonara, professor of communication, was presented with the Nat Tiffen Award for outstanding educational contributions to the art and craft of cinematography, awarded this past fall by the International Cinematographers Guild. Carbonara is director of Baylor’s Digital Communication Technologies Project.

Dr. George Cobb, chair and professor of environmental science, received the Herb Ward Exceptional Service Award from the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry (SETAC). The award recognizes any past or present SETAC member who has performed long-term, high-quality service to the society.

Two College of Arts & Sciences representatives are recipients of the 2013 Baylor Outstanding Staff Award: Douglas Nesmith (Department of Environmental Science) and Rene Coker (Department of History).

FORENSIC FRONTIERS Two faculty members from Baylor’s Department of Anthropology have been recognized for their work in forensic science teaching and research. Dr. Lori Baker, associate professor of anthropology, leads a team of students to the Texas-Mexico border each summer, where they work identify remains of unknown persons buried there. Last fall, Baker spoke at an international conference on missing persons in The Hague, Netherlands. She discussed the humanitarian side of undocumented immigrants crossing the border and described her team’s efforts to assist in that crisis. James Huggins, lecturer in forensic science, has been named one of the top 15 Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) professors in the nation by Before coming to Baylor, Huggins worked as a Texas Ranger and for the Department of Public Safety for almost 30 years.

REMEMBERING JFK The world paid tribute to President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 2013 –– the 50th anniversary of his assassination in Dallas. And prominent Baylor Arts & Sciences alumni were involved in two separate projects designed to commemorate the late president. Michael Jenkins, president and managing director of Dallas Summer Musicals and president of Leisure and Recreation Concepts, Inc. (LARC), produced a nationally televised memorial to Kennedy held Nov. 22 in Dealey Plaza, the site of the assassination. “The 50th: Honoring the Memory of President John F. Kennedy” brought together Dallas civic leaders, noted Presidential historian David McCullough, the Naval Academy Men’s Glee Club and other dignitaries in a moving program of song and reflection. Baylor alumnus Charles Poe (BA ’89), vice president of production for Smithsonian Networks, produced the Smithsonian documentary “The Day Kennedy Died.” The documentary, narrated by actor Kevin Spacey, tells the story of what happened on that tragic day through the memories of people who played a part in the events. “The Day Kennedy Died” aired nationally on Nov. 20, but Poe brought the film to the Baylor campus for a special advance screening Nov. 14.



FIESTA FAN One of the many proud Arts & Sciences alumni cheering on the Bears at the Fiesta Bowl on New Year’s Day was Angela Kinsey (BA ’93), best known for her role as Angela Martin on “The Office.”

Angela Kinsey and Baylor President Ken Starr





1 1987 Arts & Sciences graduate Jess Cagle (BA in journalism and Russian) is the new editor of People magazine. Cagle started his career as a reporter for People and served four years as managing editor of Entertainment Weekly before being chosen to head up People. 2 Baylor Arts & Sciences alumnus Marjorie Scardino (BA ‘69), the former CEO of the Pearson publishing company, has become the first woman named to the board of directors of Twitter. The absence of women on Twitter’s board has been the subject of much recent criticism.


3 3 Katie Norris (BS ’08) is the CEO and founder of Fotolanthropy, a non-profit organization that shares stories of people who have overcome adversity. Norris recently produced the film “Travis: A Soldier’s Story,” which documents the struggles and triumphs of Staff Sgt. Travis Mills –– one of only five American soldiers to survive a quadruple-amputation injury in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. (More on the film at

Director Kevin Reynolds (BA ’74, JD, MFA ’76), fresh off the success of his History Channel miniseries “Hatfields and McCoys,” will now direct “Resurrection,” a thriller set in the days immediately after Christ’s death. The Hollywood Reporter said the movie will tell the story of a Roman centurion who is ordered to locate Christ’s body and investigate alleged rumors of his resurrection.

Another Baylor Theatre alumnus might be making it big on network television. May 2010 grad Kara Killmer has been cast as a series regular in the NBC pilot “Tin Man,” a futuristic thriller drama. Killmer gets to play a robotic companion modeled to resemble its creator’s dead wife.

TOP OF THE CLASS –– AGAIN Baylor is one of only 22 institutions nationwide to earn an “A” for its high-quality core curriculum, much of which centers on classes taught in the College of Arts & Sciences. That’s according to a report on the state of general education at the nation’s colleges and universities from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA). The ACTA study looked at curriculum offerings at the major public and private colleges and universities in all 50 states –– a total of 1,091 four-year institutions. Each is assigned a letter grade ranging from “A” to “F” based on how many of seven core subjects they require. Those subjects include composition, literature, foreign language at an intermediate level, U.S. government or history, economics, mathematics and natural or physical science. Baylor –– on the “A” list for the fourth consecutive year and one of only 2 percent of all institutions to receive an “A” –– requires that students take six of the seven core courses, with the exception of economics. No other Big 12 university and only three other Texas institutions –– the University of Dallas, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and the University of Texas at San Antonio –– made the “A” list.

Briefs A prominent physics educator will spend the spring semester of 2015 teaching on campus in the College of Arts & Sciences as the winner of Baylor’s 2014 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching. The outstanding classroom skills of Dr. Meera Chandrasekhar, professor of physics and astronomy and Curator’s Teaching Professor of Physics at the University of Missouri, won her the Cherry Award, the single largest monetary reward ($250,000) presented by a college or university to an individual for exceptional teaching. Beginning this summer, tobacco use on the Baylor campus will be a thing of the past. Effective Aug. 11, 2014, Baylor will become a tobacco-free, smoke-free campus. At that time, the use of any form of tobacco will be strictly prohibited in and outside of all University-owned buildings, including those located on campus, in Waco and other cities, as well as parking lots, garages and sidewalks. The changes have been agreed upon with the support of the Baylor Faculty Senate, Staff Council and Student Senate. The Department of Modern Foreign Languages in the College of Arts & Sciences has a new name –– the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures. The new name better reflects what the faculty teaches – both languages and cultures, comprising not only literature but film and other media, theatre, business language and the study of specific world regions. Mark your calendars – two award-winning American novelists will visit Baylor in September 2014. Marilynne Robinson, author of “Gilead” and “Home,” will deliver the annual Phi Beta Kappa Albaugh Lecture Sept. 11, while Amy Tan, author of “The Joy Luck Club” and “The Kitchen God’s Wife,” will speak Sept. 29 as the 2014 Beall-Russell Lecturer.


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When the Baylor Theater decided to mount an innovative production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in 1956, it brought a bit of Hollywood to Waco. Baylor’s theater director at the time was the legendary Paul Baker, whose ties to Hollywood resulted in regular visits to campus by esteemed actors such as Charles Laughton. When Baker decided to mount an unconventional production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Laughton persuaded film star Burgess Meredith –– years away from playing the Penguin in TV’s Batman and the trainer in the Rocky movies –– to take the lead role. Baker’s innovative staging had four actors playing Hamlet –– each portraying one of his distinct personalities. Meredith played Hamlet No. 4, a composite of the first three that spoke most of the lines.

Baylor’s Studio One was refitted in unconventional ways for the play. Baker used multiple stages for Hamlet, including a center stage that was tilted up at a 33-degree angle. The sets and costumes were awash in bright colors, and Baylor students hidden backstage banged on drums and cymbals to add sound effects to the ambience. All performances were sold out before the May 5, 1956, opening, which was attended by theatrical luminaries. One Broadway director called it “enormously imaginative –– the kind of thing for which the Baylor Theater is famous.” Baker’s Hamlet was written up in a photo feature in Life magazine. A revival of the play at Baylor in 1957 (without Meredith) brought Hollywood celebrities including Charlton Heston and Eli Wallach to campus to see it.

One Bear Place #97344 Waco, TX 76798-7344

Do these colors seem a bit familiar?

They adorn the new Official Baylor Plaid pattern, designed by 2013 Arts & Sciences graduate Hannah Maynard of Raleigh, N.C. Students in Baylor’s apparel design and merchandising program competed to create the winning tartan in Baylor green and gold. To learn more or purchase Baylor Plaid, visit