Baylor Arts & Sciences Spring 2016

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Spring 2016

Combatting Cancer Baylor scientists are researching new ways to prevent and cure one of the world’s deadliest diseases

>> A&S Alums Prove to Be Successful Entrepreneurs >> Baylor Ministry Students Enjoy Expanded Opportunities >> Preserving Texas History >>Q&A with ESPN’s Trey Wingo

THE BAYLOR COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES is a diverse academic unit, spanning the sciences, humanities, social sciences and arts. In these remarks, I’d like to explore how we strive to make sense of such diversity within the confines of a single academic unit. Some claim that the size and diversity of the College of Arts & Sciences represent some of our greatest strengths, while others believe those broad dimensions weaken us because of the potential to become directionless. These age-old opposing viewpoints are reflected within Baylor’s university-wide commitment to general education outcomes that are articulated in our “Four Cs” (critical thinking, communication, Christian commitment and civic responsibility). These outcomes are foundational and unify varying aspects of the liberal arts and sciences core curriculum. We then build on these foundations with an intense commitment to skills and knowledge within specific fields of expertise. Our 25 departments, organized along the lines of each academic discipline, prepare our undergraduates to excel in their respective disciplines as they pursue graduate and professional studies, leadership positions in the workplace, and lifelong learning opportunities. Further, when opportunities arise for cross-disciplinary teaching or research, we are able to take advantage of

such collaborations that can result in discoveries, novel insights or successes that would have been unimaginable if the participants had remained in their disciplinary “silos.” Fostering such teaching and research through interdisciplinary relationships is a priority for us. For example, this April the College of Arts & Sciences sponsored our second annual transdisciplinary symposium designed to explore topics across the sciences, the humanities and the social sciences. This year’s symposium, titled “The Anthropocene,” featured guest experts from the fields of tropical medicine, geosciences and environmental sciences. By its very nature, this new area of study requires an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving as we try to understand the impact humans have (anthropo) on their environment (cene, or most recent geological epoch). Many insights will emerge from this field of study, including more complex understanding of the impact of human life on myriad aspects of our world, clearer histories of how significant problems unfolded, recognition of the interplay of dynamical systems, new ways to learn about the impact of humans on nature, and discernment of how to begin to solve such problems. This and other related topical areas are addressed under the term “grand challenges” because they require multidisciplinary teams working together across scientific, political, social and cultural boundaries. For example, how does one solve a pollution problem only studying the geochemical assay of the water? You cannot –– without understanding the source of the water, the people using the water and their perceptions of it, and the governments that supply and distribute the water. You will see in this issue of Baylor Arts & Sciences magazine an account of faculty in the College of Arts & Sciences who conduct research on a variety of aspects of cancer –– and it’s an impressive list of scholars and teachers. This cancer research ranges from “basic” to “translational” to “clinical.”

The basic benchtop research studying how the interactions of various molecules might lead to a translational research approach using those molecules as suppressors of tumor growth, and how that might in turn lead to clinical trials on various drug therapies. Such new drug therapies might then be brought to society, perhaps even in a global context –– an arena that Baylor is becoming more involved in –– where teams of researchers across disciplines work together to solve vital health concerns. Whether it is seen by environmental scientists working alongside social scientists, or in theologians and philosophers collaborating with colleagues from engineering and business —such dynamic interactions bridging diverse disciplines are critically important to solving the grand challenges of society. To come full circle, the transdisciplinary approach to both teaching and research magnifies the strengths of diversity and illuminates pathways towards strategic areas of concern. It leaves us stronger, rather than weaker, because of our enhanced ability to address complex matters of national and even global importance. Norman Borlaug, father of the “Green Revolution” and a 1970 Nobel Laureate, is credited with saving some 30 million people from starvation in India and Pakistan during the 1960s by having developed high yield strains of wheat. He once told me that developing the advanced strains of wheat for increased food production was not nearly as difficult as implementing the technology into countries with varying cultural perceptions and the complexities of different governmental systems. This is much the same lesson we have learned in Arts & Sciences –– that some challenges are too complex to be solved by studying only one aspect of the problem.




News & Notes

Updates on students, faculty, staff and alumni

Timeless Journey, New Paths

While Baylor’s commitment to equip students for Christian ministry has never dimmed, opportunities for service are expanding

36 Q&A The Voice of the Baylor Bears –– John Morris ––



Combatting Cancer Teams of Baylor scientists are researching ways to fight one of the world’s deadliest diseases

talks to ESPN’s Trey Wingo (BA ’85) about sports and more


First Person


Our Back Pages

She’s been overseeing Baylor commencements for 17 years, and Lois Ferguson has some great tales to tell Hallie Earle, Scientific Pioneer



Historic Opportunities Becky Dinnin (BA ’88) and Shannon Roberts (BA ’86) help to preserve and share Texas history


The Art & Science of Business Meet nine Arts & Sciences alumni who used their skills to become successful entrepreneurs


Baylor Arts & Sciences is the magazine of the Baylor University College of Arts & Sciences. As the University’s oldest and largest academic unit, the College of Arts & Sciences is a community of 25 academic departments dedicated to the discovery and dissemination of knowledge. It is the foundation upon which all Baylor students’ educational experiences are built.

Spring 2016

Baylor Arts & Sciences is produced for the College of Arts & Sciences by Baylor’s Division of Marketing and Communications.

PRESIDENT Ken Starr | DEAN, COLLEGE OF ARTS & SCIENCES Lee Nordt | DIVISIONAL DEAN FOR SCIENCES Kenneth T. Wilkins DIVISIONAL DEAN FOR HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES Robyn Driskell | EDITOR Randy Fiedler | CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Julie Carlson, Julie Engebretson, Terry Goodrich, Jeff Hampton | PHOTOGRAPHY Matthew Minard, Robert Rogers | ART DIRECTION Clayton Thompson DIRECTORS OF DEVELOPMENT David Cortes, Clayton Ellis, Jim Shepelwich One Bear Place #97344 | Waco, TX 76798 | |

SAVE THE DATE! If you’re a fan of historian, author and documentary narrator David McCullough, you’ll be glad to know that he will be coming to Baylor in the fall. McCullough, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, will be at Baylor on Monday, Sept. 26, to deliver the 2016 Beall-Russell Lecture in Jones Theatre. The lecture will be free and open to the public. For more information, visit

Baylor University was graced with a visit last November by internationally recognized artist Frank Stella. As part of the Allbritton Art Institute’s Biennial Artist Conversation, acclaimed art critic Jason Kaufman interviewed Stella onstage before a standingroom-only Jones Theatre audience about the artist’s life, career and works.

The name of Baylor’s geology department has changed to reflect recent developments in the field. In January 2016, the former Department of Geology became the Department of Geosciences. “The name change is necessary because the title ‘Department of Geology’ is now rarely used amongst our peer institutions, since it misrepresents the range of disciplines now encompassed within a modern geology department,” said Dr. Stacy Atchley, chair and professor of geosciences. He noted that Baylor not only offers undergraduate degrees in geology, geophysics and earth sciences, but the University advises graduate students within more than a dozen research specializations within the department including paleoclimatology, paleopedology, geomorphology, geochemistry, hydrology and volcanology. 2 / BAYLOR ARTS & SCIENCES

Baylor’s medical humanities program in the College of Arts & Sciences presented its inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award in Medical Humanities this past fall to Dr. Eric Cassell, a distinguished physician, clinical professor and author who has written extensively about ethics, humanities and the intersection of philosophy and medicine. “Few physicians have thought more deeply or written more articulately than Dr. Cassell about the practice of medicine at its noblest and how a rich understanding of the humanities is necessary to take care of patients –– in every sense of the word ‘care,’” said Dr. Lauren Barron, clinical professor and associate director of medical humanities.

When the Marines showed up at Baylor’s biology department office just before Christmas break, they had quite a load to carry off. Biology students, faculty and staff donated and collected more than 1,000 unwrapped toys for the 2015 Toys for Tots Christmas drive, benefiting needy children in Central Texas. The huge pile of toys took up so much space in the biology office foyer that workers there could no longer reach the switch on the wall to turn off the light at night.

The Baylor College of Arts & Sciences will welcome a Rice University psychology professor in 2017 after she won Baylor’s national award for excellent teaching. Dr. Michelle Rae Hebl, Martha and Henry Malcolm Lovett Professor of Psychology at Rice University, is the 2016 recipient of Baylor’s Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching. It’s the only national teaching award –– with the single largest monetary reward of $250,000 –– presented by a college or university to an individual for exceptional teaching. Hebl is an applied psychologist who is part of the industrial/organizational program at Rice, and her research focuses on issues related to diversity and discrimination. She is expected to teach in residence at Baylor in Spring 2017.

BAYLOR’S FIRST HILLIS SCHOLARS Baylor has announced the inaugural group of 12 students named to the William Hillis Scholars in Biomedical Sciences Program. The endowed scholarship program was established by the College of Arts & Sciences in 2014 to provide research experiences and enhanced mentoring and learning opportunities for high-achieving undergraduate prehealth students to make them more competitive for positions in top graduate programs and medical schools. “The purpose of the Hillis Scholars Program is to recognize and support extraordinary Baylor undergraduates who seek to engage in scholarly work in the health/medical fields. Baylor wants to help these students fulfill their aspirations to become

leaders in the health professions through scholarly research and/or compassionate service,” said Dr. Rich Sanker, director of the Baylor Prehealth Science Studies Office. “We believe that the Hillis Scholars program will help make sure that our students continue to be leaders in the fields of healthcare and medical education in future generations,” said Dr. Lee C. Nordt, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. The Hillis Scholars program is named in honor of Dr. William B. Hillis, a medical doctor and researcher who served more than 30 years as a professor and administrator at Baylor University before his retirement in 2012.

The 12 students selected as Hillis Scholars for the 2015-2016 academic year include: David Crawford, a senior University Scholar from Flower Mound, Texas; Kyra Curtis, a junior biology major from Colorado Springs, Colo.; Abdullah Ghali, a sophomore biology major from Arlington, Texas; Alice Knaeble, a senior University Scholar from Stillwater, Minn.; Alexa Larsen, a junior pre-neuroscience major from Hawthorn Woods, Ill.; Isaac Lill, a junior biochemistry major from Austin, Texas; Austin MacDonald, a junior biology and computer science double major from Tuscon, Ariz.; Mallory Myers, a senior University Scholar from Aurora, Colo.; Jeremy Sieker, a junior University Scholar from Denver, Colo.; Jonathan Siktberg, a senior Baylor Business Fellows major from Nashville, Tenn.; Mary Taylor Tillman, a junior biology major from Aledo, Texas; and Sarah Tucker, a senior medical humanities major from Houston, Texas.


Riya Rahman, a senior political science major from Plano, Texas, received a White House Champions of Change Award for summer opportunities. While at Baylor, Rahman has worked to end child hunger with the Texas Hunger Initiative and Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign, and she was a No Kid Hungry Youth Ambassador working to increase child hunger awareness and advocacy among college students.

Ten junior and senior Baylor medical humanities students have been awarded scholarships from the 2016 Michael E. DeBakey, Selma DeBakey and Lois DeBakey Endowed Scholarship Fund. The scholarships are awarded for academic excellence and service in the health care field. Recipients include Caroline Davies, Courtney McNeely, Omar Sahibzada, Callie Schott, Morgan Smith, Arfa Ikram, Micah Gamble, Daniel Truesdale, Jennifer Welch and Vivian Kwok.

Jacob Imam, a senior University Scholar major at Baylor, is the only student from a Texas university and one of only 32 students nationwide to receive a prestigious 2016 Marshall Scholarship. The award will allow Imam to attend Oxford University in pursuit of a master’s degree in Islamic studies and history. “Jacob is a young man of immense talent and noble goals, all focused on fostering religious liberty and mutual understanding across seemingly intractable cultural barriers in the Middle East,” said Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr.

Baylor volleyball player Jana Brusek, a sophomore pre-biology major from Chicago, Ill., got the opportunity last fall to pose with Dallas Cowboys great Drew Pearson. Why? Well, Jana and her Baylor teammates were at DFW Airport waiting on a flight when she accepted an appeal to sign a huge inflatable football outside the Dallas Cowboys Club. By doing so, she added the 516th signature and became the lucky person who broke the Guinness World Record for the most signatures on a piece of sports memorabilia.


Baylor’s student publications –– which include The Baylor Lariat, the Baylor Round Up, Focus magazine and the new Lariat television news program –– have earned an impressive number of regional and national awards recently. In the forefront were the Columbia Scholastic Press Association’s Crown Awards –– its most prestigious awards for more than 1,200 collegiate publications –– where 39 universities were recognized with a Crown. Baylor was the only university earning three Crowns –– more than those earned by schools in the Ivy League and SEC combined.

Dr. Roger Kirk, distinguished professor of psychology and statistics, is the longest-serving faculty member in Baylor history. During Homecoming celebrations in October 2015, the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience dedicated Room B-309 in the Baylor Sciences Building as the Roger E. Kirk Conference Room, in honor of Kirk’s 57 years of service and contributions to Baylor.

Laura Scott, a Baylor Arts & Sciences alumna who has served as a student counselor and advisor at Baylor for more than 30 years, has been honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Texas Academic Advising Network. Scott was recognized for both her work with students and her work in the advising community, where she has devised professional development programs for her colleagues at Baylor and beyond. She now serves as manager of professional development in University Advisement.

Dr. Bruce Hodson, senior lecturer in chemistry and biochemistry, was chosen by Baylor seniors to receive the 2016 Collins Outstanding Professor Award.

JOBS WELL DONE One of Baylor’s longest-serving faculty members is retiring this spring after a half century of service to the University. Dr. Owen T. Lind, professor of biology, joined the Baylor faculty in 1966. Last year, he was recognized for a lifetime of service to limnology –– the study of inland waters –– in Mexico by the Institute of Marine Sciences and Limnology and the Mexican Limnological Association. Lind was named a Distinguished Texas Scientist by the Texas Academy of Science and received the Excellence in Graduate Mentoring Award from the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools. During his 50 years at Baylor, he taught and advised many young limnologists. Other Arts & Sciences faculty retiring this spring and summer include: Dr. L. Joseph Achor, psychology and neuroscience; James Houser, modern languages and cultures; Dr. Baxter Johns, mathematics; Dr. Linda Kinslow, physics; Janet Norden, modern languages and cultures; and Terry Roller, art.


Joining the 25 new student members of Baylor University’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa who were initiated in December 2015 was Dr. William Bellinger, chair of religion and The W. Marshall and Lulie Craig Chair in Bible. Bellinger (third from left in the photo) received an honorary membership from Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society, in recognition of his service and scholarly accomplishment.

Dr. Thomas Kidd, professor of history and the associate director of the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion, won the award for history and biography in the Christianity Today 2016 Book Awards for George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father. Kidd’s book explores the extraordinary career of Whitefield, the most famous preacher in the American colonies whose sermons and writings were most responsible for the rise of the evangelical movement before the American Revolution.

Two Arts & Sciences employees are among those selected to receive 2015 Baylor University Outstanding Staff Awards –– Dr. Lynn Wisely, director of undergraduate enrollment initiatives in the College of Arts & Sciences (at left in photo), and Judy Dees, office manager for the Department of Mathematics. Among other honors, Baylor’s outstanding staffers receive a monetary gift and the opportunity to ride and be recognized in the Homecoming Parade.

Did you catch the great parody video of Adele’s song “Hello” that went viral awhile back? It’s a humorous look at the challenges of motherhood titled “Hello from the Motherside?” and features (and was created by) Arts & Sciences alumna Emily Mills (BA ’99). The Waco mother was inspired to write the song after receiving a text message inviting her to a mom’s night out. “Instead of responding like a typical human would and just, ‘No I’m unavailable,’” Mills said, “’Hello,’ was on the radio and…the words just started coming up.” Mills enlisted the help of local moms and her Baylor A&S alum husband Brett (BA ‘98) to create the video, which was eventually picked up by The Today Show, Ellen, Huffington Post, The Daily Mail and other media outlets.



The documentary “A Single Frame,” made by two Baylor Arts & Sciences alumni –– director Brandon Dickerson (BA ’95) and journalist Jeff Bowden (BA ’82) –– debuted at the 2015 Austin Film Festival, where it won the Hiscox Audience Award in the “Heart of Film” category. As detailed in an article in the Fall 2014 issue of Baylor Arts & Sciences article, the film tells the story of Bowden’s search across Europe to find the young Albanian war refugee captured in a classic photo.

The master’s thesis film of Baylor Arts & Sciences alumnus Brynn Sankey, titled “Stray - Short Film,” has been selected for inclusion in the short film corner at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on May 11-22, 2016. Brynn’s film won Best Picture at Baylor’s 2015 Black Glasses Film Festival, and he was one of the Baylor film and digital media students who last year was included in Variety Magazine’s “110 Film Students to Watch” list.


Arts & Sciences alumna Kim Lubel (MA ‘82) is surely the only person on the 2015 list of Fortune magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Women” to have turned down a career with the CIA to go to graduate school at Baylor. She’s now the CEO, chairman and president of CST Brands –– the company that brings the “Corner Store” to Valero and Diamond Shamrock convenience stores nationwide.

Dr. Steven Currall (BA ‘82) became provost and vice president of academic affairs at SMU in January 2016. Currall earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Baylor, and went on to become dean of the University of California Davis Graduate School of Management before taking the SMU job.

A Baylor Arts & Sciences alumnus has been honored for his expertise in visual storytelling. Doug Murray (BA ’95), president and chief operating officer of Murray Media in Dallas, shared a 2015 Lone Star EMMY award with Scott Murray, chairman and chief operating officer, for the company’s television program “Conversations with Scott Murray.” The program, which won in the “Magazine Program-Series” category, was a special episode aired on the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion in Europe. Hold onto your remotes, “Bachelorette” fans! When the reality TV series begins its 12th season on May 23, 2016, it will star Joelle “JoJo” Fletcher, a Baylor Arts & Sciences alumna. Fletcher graduated in 2011 with a BA in medical humanities, and she was a finalist on Season 20 of “The Bachelor.”



IN GROWING NUMBERS, BAYLOR UNIVERSITY SCIENTISTS ARE TEAMING UP TO FIGHT ONE OF THE WORLD’S DEADLIEST DISEASES More than one million people are diagnosed with cancer in the United States each year, according to the American Cancer Society. That sobering statistic is one of the main motivators prompting researchers from the Baylor College of Arts & Sciences to spend countless hours in their laboratories, searching for ways to prevent and cure the disease. Baylor’s ability to effectively study cancer received a huge boost when new faculty members were hired as part of the University’s 10-year strategic plan Baylor 2012, which was launched in 2002. “The Baylor 2012 initiative was really the catalyst that transformed our department in the last decade,” said Dr. Patrick Farmer, chair and professor of chemistry and biochemistry. “Since 2008, we have recruited a great set of worldclass scientists, several of whom have contributed to drugs in the development pipeline. These young researchers are the future of science at Baylor.” Arts & Sciences faculty have helped Baylor bring in more than $5 million in grants and other funding during the past six years to study cancer, and the University’s current strategic plan, Pro Futuris, provides a foundation for even more growth in the future. The cancer research being done at Baylor is exciting. The profiles that follow will not only introduce you to the more than half dozen faculty who are working to combat cancer, but will also spotlight the varied problems these faculty members and their students are working to solve. à



Research by Baylor scientists has led to the creation of a new diagnostic tool that can detect an aggressive form of eye cancer. After Dr. Bryan Shaw’s young son was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a pediatric eye cancer, Shaw was driven to act. “When you see your child receiving radiation to his left eye just a few weeks after losing his right eye –– all before his first birthday –– you get deeply, heavily motivated,” said Shaw, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry. One of the main indications of retinoblastoma is leukocoria or “white eye,” which can be seen in photographs during the earliest stages of the disease. Shaw and his wife first noticed their son Noah’s white eye in family photographs, which inspired Shaw to try to make digital photography a tool in the early detection of the cancer. Shaw partnered with Dr. Greg Hamerly, associate professor of computer science and director of Baylor’s computer science graduate program, to develop the CRADLE app –– which stands for ComputeR Assisted Detector of LEukocoria. They hope the new app will assist with diagnosis of cancer and other eye diseases that exhibit white eye.

Pediatricians and oncologists are experimenting with the app as a tool to perform the red reflex test, the primary screening test for retinoblastoma. Normally, the red reflex test is performed with an ophthalmoscope, one of the handheld lights on the wall of every doctor’s office, but Shaw said studies have shown the test can have false-negative rates of up to 90 percent in detecting retinoblastoma. “Our son passed all of his red reflex tests, and he had retinoblastoma the entire time,” Shaw said. CRADLE is being tested against the ophthalmoscope at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University, Boston Children’s Hospital and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Clinical studies are being led by a pediatric oncologist Shaw met at Harvard when his son was there for a checkup. His passion is to improve pediatric cancer diagnoses in environments with limited resources. The partnership has been a perfect match. It was imperative to Shaw for the new app to be available for free, particularly to help parents and children in underdeveloped countries

where the death rate from retinoblastoma is highest. “Kids might not get to see a pediatrician in their first year of life, but they’ll get their picture taken,” Shaw said. CRADLE launched in October 2014 for the iPhone and in July 2015 for Android devices. Shaw said it’s already had 41,000 downloads, is on every continent and led to two cancer diagnoses in Germany. Another child was diagnosed with a non-cancerous eye condition. Last year, Baylor alumna Sarah Lessman (BA ’04, MS ’05) realized the power of the app. “Over the Thanksgiving weekend I took a picture of my

boys and noticed a white glow in my 2-year-old, Landon’s, left eye. I remember reading an article somewhere about Bryan’s son (and) I knew something wasn’t right,” said Lessman, who then used CRADLE to discover the glow had been appearing in photos of her son since March 2015. That glow was an early indication of the disease her son’s doctors would soon diagnose. “Dr. Shaw and the research he is doing probably saved my son’s eye,” Lessman said. Her son had a positive well-child check last summer, but thanks to Shaw’s work and Lessman’s memory, doctors diagnosed her son with Coats’ disease, which is


caused by abnormal growth of blood vessels behind the retina. The disease leads to partial or full blindness and will require Landon to have surgeries for the rest of his life to try to save his eye.à

DISCOVERY DUO He’s focused on synthetic and medicinal chemistry, while she’s focused on biochemistry and cell biology. Together, they make a formidable team using their decades of research experience to fight cancer. Dr. Kevin Pinney, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Dr. Mary Lynn Trawick, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, began collaborating years before the Baylor Sciences Building opened in 2004. “It takes many individuals with diverse research talents and skills to truly move initial discovery forward,” Pinney said, emphasizing the value of working with a strong team.

Pinney and Trawick use funding from three main sources –– the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT), OXiGENE Inc., a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company, and a $1.46 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute –– to keep their laboratories in constant motion. Their research is focused primarily in two areas of discovery, the first being small molecule anticancer drugs. Pinney and Trawick are looking at a number of areas of research to help create these drugs, such as ways to stop cell division. Another involves

using drugs known as vascular disrupting agents to disrupt blood flow to tumors, starving them of oxygen and nutrients and leading to their death. The second area of their collaboration is focused on certain types of advanced cancer, with the goal of developing antimetastatic drugs that have the potential for stopping a variety of cancers from spreading. Their research targets the cysteine protease cathepsin L (CTSL), an enzyme secreted by cancer cells. By inhibiting CTSL, cell invasion and cancer migration can be significantly reduced.



During his time as an undergraduate student at Baylor, Dr. Joseph Taube, assistant professor of biology, got his start as a researcher performing experiments with Pinney and Trawick in their labs. Since joining the biology faculty at Baylor, Taube has been busy conducting research into cancer cells that metastasize (or spread) to other sites in the body. In order to metastasize, a tumor cell that originated in one organ must change its character and adapt to a new organ, essentially reprogramming itself. “Metastasis is the major cause of death in most cancer patients,” Taube said. Taube’s work is concentrated inside tumor cells beginning their escape to other parts of the body. He models tumor cell metastasis in the lab, forcing cancer cells to undergo a process called epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Work done by other researchers has shown that EMT is a way that cells can go from being “happy in the primary tumor” to wanting to escape and survive on their own. Because EMT requires numerous cellular changes, Taube is working to find the genes responsible for implementing those changes. In research he did while serving as a postdoctoral fellow at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center, Taube found a gene called a microRNA that must be turned off for a cell escape to occur. In fact, putting microRNA-203 back into cells reversed the EMT and blocked the movement of the cells in mice. At Baylor, Taube is investigating a category of genes that modify the chromosomal environment around other genes to turn them off or on. He describes the process as much like winding and unwinding a spool of thread. The “threads” are long strands of DNA, comprised of thousands of genes, which must be organized around spools made from proteins. Those genes that are wound tightly on the spools are turned off. Taube is focused on the regulatory genes


STOPPING THE GREAT ESCAPE that can chemically modify the spool proteins, thus unwinding the thread and triggering genes at those locations to turn on. When EMT genes are turned on in this manner, they drive the tumor cells to escape and metastasize. Taube’s work has particular relevance for patients with what’s known as triple negative breast cancer (TNBC). In instances of TNBC, the three most common types of receptors that cause most breast cancers to spread –– estrogen, progesterone and the hormone epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER-2) –– are absent, meaning that patients have tested negative for them. Unlike other types of breast cancer, TNBC patients don’t respond to targeted drug treatments because the receptors aren’t there. Patients can only

be treated with chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. Taube’s research at MD Anderson showed that some patients with triple negative breast cancer share a particular molecular pattern with a strong EMT signature, meaning that drugs that target the EMT pathway could provide these patients more options for treatment. In fact, one drug first tested by Taube and his colleagues at MD Anderson is already being tested in mice that have had tumors directly removed from human patients and implanted inside the mice. He hopes that this promising drug will move into a clinical trial in the next few years. à


REUNITED RESEARCHERS A new Baylor partnership of veteran researchers is taking advantage of state grant money to explore new frontiers in the fight against cancer. Dr. Daniel Romo, The Schotts Professor of Chemistry, joined the Baylor faculty in Fall 2015. He partners with Dr. John Wood, The Robert A. Welch Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research, in the formation of the CPRIT Synthesis and Drug-Lead Discovery Laboratory. More than 25 years after the two crossed paths at Harvard University while doing postdoctoral work, they are excited to join forces again. Romo and Wood’s collaborative lab builds on work from their individual research groups and is funded in part by a $4.2 million CPRIT grant awarded to Wood. “Our research efforts are similar, but our strengths are


different enough to make them complementary,” Wood said. The lab’s focus is on the anticancer potential of natural products –– small molecules isolated from natural sources such as bacteria, plants and marine sponges. “Natural products have historically been the greatest starting point for drug discovery, accounting for 50 percent of the currently approved drugs, and 70 percent when you consider antibiotics and anticancer agents,” Romo said. With natural products’ history of providing insight into how cells operate and impact disease, they serve to help Romo and Wood look deeper into cell biology to better understand what is taking place at the molecular level. Cell biology itself is focused on understanding the structure and function of cells, which are

considered the basic units of life. Natural products have also served often as promising drug leads, or candidates, including those that could treat cancer. Romo said that the development of most drugs is typically a 10year process, with only one out of 10,000 molecules synthesized as a so-called drug lead actually becoming a drug. Once a natural product is identified, with its structure defined and how it works determined, derivatives can be prepared to determine how quickly it might be metabolized for use in the body (metabolic stability), the extent to which it can be used and absorbed by the body (bioavailability), and to determine its effectiveness and safety. Once this is achieved, a compound can be considered a potential clinical candidate, Wood said. In preparing a complex molecule, small changes are made in a stepwise fashion from the simple starting materials. Wood and Romo believe that their work in the laboratory is not only to develop new anticancer drugs, but to train future researchers. “Although our research, through the molecules we prepare, has the potential of impacting medicine by providing new drugs or lead compounds in the development of new drugs, the primary impact comes from the students who are developing the skills needed to prepare complex molecules,” Wood said. He added that in most instances, Baylor graduates will move on to positions in the pharmaceutical industry and play a key role in both developing and preparing new drugs. “Of the 200 top-selling brandname drugs used to treat a variety of disease, nearly all have been initially conceived of and eventually prepared by someone who holds a PhD and is trained as a synthetic organic chemist,” Wood said, noting that the collaborative effort of the new CPRIT lab at Baylor has the potential for extraordinary impact on not only cancer, but on medicine in general.

MAPPING MOLECULES, FINDING CLUES Like a treasure hunter in search of a sign, Dr. Touradj Solouki’s anticancer research at Baylor is uncovering mysteries along the way. Solouki, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, hopes that saliva and human breath contain biological markers or clues that can provide pre-cancer or early stage diagnosis, ultimately giving patients a noninvasive diagnosis and a better chance of receiving treatment. “We have a long way ahead of us before cancer can be eradicated,” he said. Using a measuring instrument called an ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometer, Solouki compares the molecular components from the breath of someone who’s healthy with those of a cancer patient. The molecules are sent through hundreds of feet of tubing and are sorted. A coating inside the tube causes the molecules to segregate, allowing researchers to discard what’s not needed and prepare the remainder to be studied. Solouki said his research team at Baylor has made significant strides in developing instruments and methods for analyzing the samples. But what happens when a cancer patient is unable to benefit from early detection? That’s the focus of research being done by one of Solouki’s Baylor colleagues, Dr. Elyssia Gallagher, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry. Gallagher’s work concentrates on looking for clues that appear during cancer progression –– namely, how protein interactions change in cancer patients. Proteins do the work of the cell. They perform chemical reactions, transport molecules into and throughout the cell and allow cells to communicate.

“In each cell, DNA (the genetic makeup for all living organisms) is copied to RNA, and then RNA is used to determine the sequence of molecules that make up the protein. The process in which RNA is used to make a protein is called translation,” Gallagher said. “After a protein is translated, additional chemical groups can get added that change the function of the protein.” Those altered proteins are at the heart of Gallagher’s research. Some proteins contain posttranslational modifications (PTMs) that change their structure and function. Her focus is on glycosylation, a PTM that involves the addition of sugars. Cancer develops when processes in cells go wrong. “It’s known that in certain types of cancer the glycosylation patterns of proteins change. We’re studying how these changes prevent proteins from

communicating normally with other proteins or other cells,” Gallagher said, noting that a better understanding of these changes could help identify new ways to treat cancer. Gallagher is also looking for new ways to detect PTM changes. “Not only are we looking at the protein-protein interactions, but we’re also developing new techniques to find the glycosylation patterns that are wrong,” she said, adding that she hopes those new techniques will ultimately lead to an earlier cancer diagnosis. à


A father now fighting cancer, a mother-in-law who’s a cancer survivor and a grandfather and grandmother who’ve fought the same battle all help to bring focus and passion to Dr. Michael Trakselis’ work. The research conducted by Trakselis, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, centers on DNA replication and repair. DNA carries most of the genetic details for the development, function and reproduction of living organisms, including human life. More than 250 proteins in human cells go into battle to fix DNA damage of nearly 10,000 events per cell each day. The repair process is continuous, and responds to damage that occurs through both natural and environmental factors such as ultraviolet (UV) light and radiation. Cells with severe DNA damage or ones that can no longer repair DNA can either die, go dormant or divide uncontrollably, which often leads to cancerous tumors. The ability of a gene to repair itself is vital to ensuring that organisms function as they should. Trakselis studies DNA replication and repair in archaea, a class of single-cell organisms that mirror what takes place in the human body and can be easily studied in the lab. The DNA replication system of archaea has less than half of the proteins in humans, yet carries out the same processes with similar

precision. This allows Trakselis’ team to delve deeply into the enzyme mechanisms and draw parallels on a more simple scale by making hypotheses in archaea, and then testing the specifics in human cells. “There is still a wealth of basic scientific knowledge in DNA replication and repair that needs to be determined before we can effectively make specific drugs,” Trakselis said. People with genetic predispositions to cancer often have specific mutations in DNA repair genes. By studying the effects of these mutations, Trakselis’ team can uncover the unknown roles of these proteins and also learn how alternative mutations in these genes lead to cancer.




The ultimate goal is first to characterize the specific roles of unknown DNA repair genes, then exploit that knowledge for diagnostics, including cancer genome sequencing and targeted chemotherapy approaches. Trakselis hopes to better understand not only what causes the mutations that can lead to cancer, but also to learn more about their downstream effects so that researchers will ultimately be able to more effectively design drugs that kill cancer cells in their tracks. He has recently discovered two new proteins that appear to play a major role in maintaining DNA stability.

MELANOMA, MELANIN AND MUTATIONS Dr. Patrick Farmer, chair of Baylor’s chemistry and biochemistry department, wants to know –– how does the color of someone’s skin make them more susceptible to the cancer known as melanoma? “This depends on the molecular biology of the melanin, the pigments that determine your hair and skin color, how the pigments are packaged and how they react to light and other things in someone’s environment,” Farmer said. For more than a decade, he’s been studying melanoma, a cancer of the cells that make the black, blonde or red melanin pigments. Farmer is also researching new copper-based drugs for melanoma that have a selective and dramatic toxicity to melanoma in laboratory studies. Several compounds have been used in clinical trials. One is the drug disulfiram, better known as Antabuse, which is used to make alcoholics sick if they drink. “Disulfiram’s action against melanoma is very different. It causes the melanoma to accumulate copper, which causes the cells to die,” Farmer said. His team has developed a hypothesis about how the compounds target melanoma, which ties in with the recent identification of a common mutation in the BRAF kinase pathway, something found in most melanomas. This mutation activates many other cellular processes, leading to the accelerated growth and spread of the cancer. “Identification of the BRAF mutation has changed the game for melanoma treatment in the last 10 years,” Farmer said. “There are

new drugs that work. The copper connection to this mutation is an idea we hope to contribute to, and one we hope will have clinical application.” Farmer’s research has also resulted in discoveries that have nothing to do with cancer. One offshoot has been to identify topical treatments that lighten skin. PATRICK FARMER


Baylor scientists are encouraged by the growing number of collaborations on campus between colleagues from varied scientific disciplines and believe that such cooperation will benefit future anticancer research. “Cancer is a complex disease,” Wood said. “In my opinion, continued progress in mitigating it will not be driven by a single traditional branch of science like biology, chemistry or medicine, but from a complex interplay of fields. By providing a diverse and cooperative research environment, Baylor is making a clear statement that it is serious about becoming a world-class research university.” n

The Art & Science of Business


It’s no secret the Baylor University College of Arts & Sciences has a diverse student body. With 25 academic departments represented — spread across the sciences, humanities and social sciences — its graduates go on to excel in a wide variety of careers. It’s also no secret an impressive number of Arts & Sciences alumni are choosing to start their own businesses after graduation, sometimes in fields quite different than those they studied in school. To get an idea of just how varied these business ventures can be, we talked to nine A&S entrepreneurs to learn about how they used the skills they learned at Baylor to achieve success in the marketplace. à

Christine Berry (BA ’92)


While studying art history at Baylor, Christine Berry learned that there is still a lot to be discovered in the art world. With plenty of perseverance and a solid understanding of the field, Berry realized that she was “onto something.” As co-owner of Berry Campbell Gallery in New York City, that forward thinking has served her well. Founded in 2013 by Berry and co-owner Martha Campbell, Berry Campbell is located on the ground floor at 530 West 24th Street in New York City in the heart of the Chelsea Arts District. The gallery fills an important gap in the art world, showcasing the work of prominent artists and estates in the areas of abstract expressionism, minimalism, color field, op art, and mid-career contemporary artists working in the modernist tradition.


“We became specialists in these areas after research and networking with artists and other scholars in this area of study. It is an untapped market,” Berry said. Berry Campbell Gallery has grown from 1,200 square feet to 2,000 square feet, which allows for two exhibitions simultaneously. In order to expand its collector base, the gallery is using the current trend of exhibiting at art fairs to its advantage. It’s participated in art fairs in Silicon Valley, Southampton and Miami, and hopefully will visit Texas in 2016. “We pride ourselves on our solid ethics and a complete understanding of the art market,” Berry said. “Our Berry Campbell clients trust us for our artistic eye and our edge on the market.” Berry comes from a long line of Baylor graduates, dating back to the founding of the University. Berry enrolled in 1987 and completed a BA in art history in 1992. Following graduation, she earned a master’s degree in art history and criticism at the University of North Texas,

along with a certification in museum studies/education. Prior to founding Berry Campbell, she worked first at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and then the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. “I took many classes at Baylor with Dr. William Jensen from Greek/Roman to Renaissance art history. He was researching and writing on Michelangelo and the Sistine Ceiling, and therefore often lectured on the subject,” Berry said. “He made me realize that there is so much to be uncovered in our field. Dr. Heidi Hornick also was a wonderful role model in the department.” Berry said her Baylor degree gave her the tools necessary to open a gallery because of the variety of study areas she explored as a student. “In my field you need to have an understanding of art, history, languages, business and people, and a BA allows you to touch base on all of those things,” she said. n BY JULIE CARLSON

Austin Mann

(BA ’08)


There has almost never been a time when Austin Mann hasn’t run at least one of his own businesses. His entrepreneurial bent dates back to the seventh grade, when he started a lawn mowing business to help him buy his first iMac computer. Mann already had lots of experience building interactive websites when he followed an older sister to Baylor from Wichita, Kan. He first majored in a business program that promised to take his web design skills to the next level. “But I wasn’t really interested in school then, to be quite honest,” Mann said. “I was already working on a couple of creative ventures, doing interactive web design for clients, and I wasn’t putting the work into my academics that I could have.” In his sophomore year, Mann became interested in photography and quickly realized it was not only a possible career, but also something he could use to share the beauty he saw in Creation with others. “I was really passionate about photography –– it became my form of worship,” he said. Mann switched his major to film and digital media, and an extended trip he took during his final semester proved to be life-changing. “I went to nine countries in 60 days, working to tell stories as a photographer for an orphanage that served a number of countries,” Mann said. “That was what I wanted to do –– work in different parts of the world to capture stories of what God is doing through his people, stories that would connect Western audiences to needs overseas.” After graduating from Baylor, Mann traveled almost nonstop across the globe, taking photos and helping client organizations to better tell their stories. After five years on the road, Mann decided to settle down in Dallas, Texas, where in 2012 he unveiled his next business –– WELD.

WELD started in a 10,000-squarefoot building in the Dallas design district. It’s a space where freelancers and small creative teams gain access to office amenities and benefit from interaction with other creative persons. “WELD is like a coffee shop on steroids for creative people,” Mann said. “I see my role as providing a platform for our community to do great work they believe in.” For a flat monthly fee, WELD members get access to office and studio space, meeting and screening rooms, office machines and Internet access. Private office space is available for a larger fee. “All our amenities exist to bring people together so they can collaborate, and the amount of interaction that happens here is mind-boggling,” Mann said. “We’ve seen a lot of amazing impact on people’s lives through this work.” The success of WELD in Dallas led Mann to open a second version in Nashville, Tenn., in 2015, bringing fellow Baylor Arts & Sciences

alumnus Jordan Bellamy onto the team. WELD’s community is nearing 200 members as both locations continue to grow. Mann has also joined forces with Baylor alumnus Nathan Watkins in his latest entrepreneurial venture as they transform 40-foot metal shipping containers into prefabricated custom work spaces that can be moved almost anywhere. “It’s kind of risky, because we haven’t ever seen offices quite like this before,” Mann said. “But we think these shipping containers can be the best workspaces on the planet, so we had to do it.” n BY RANDY FIEDLER

Blake Barrow

(BA ’80, MA ’85, JD ’88) HALLELUJAH BBQ

Blake Barrow is proving that one way to help a socially minded nonprofit achieve its goals is to start for-profit side businesses that will support it. The Houston native began at Baylor in 1976 and looks back on his days in Waco with great fondness. In fact, as Barrow’s graduation date approached in May 1980, he was looking for a way to stick around campus a little longer. “I knew the following fall would be the year Mike Singletary, Dennis Gentry and Walter Abercrombie were all going to be seniors and Baylor was going to have a great football team,” Barrow said, referring to three stars of the legendary 1980 Baylor football season. “That was the year we won the Southwest Conference and went to the Cotton Bowl. I wasn’t in any hurry to go get a job.” So, Barrow began a master’s program in American studies and soon earned the second of four degrees he holds. Intending to become a Methodist minister, Barrow next got a master of divinity degree from Emory University, but then he changed course and returned to Waco to add a law degree from Baylor Law School. After almost 10 years as a trial lawyer in El Paso, Barrow’s plans changed again. He became chief executive officer of Rescue Mission of El Paso, an organization that provides shelter, meals, Christian services and relapse prevention programs to El Paso’s homeless. “God called me to run a homeless shelter,” Barrow said. “And for a long time, we ran a business we called Rescue


Industries. It was a furniture factory that hired only homeless people. We marketed our furniture nationwide, and in doing this we wanted to change the world’s perception of who homeless people are.” After the Texas Department of Transportation bought out Rescue Mission’s seven acres of property in 2014, Barrow realized that replicating the furniture factory elsewhere would be too expensive. He then looked to the food service industry. “It’s an area where there will always be jobs,” Barrow said. “So the social enterprise is that we’ll take folks who come through the rescue mission, many of whom are graduates of the drug and alcohol addiction program, and we are going to put them to work at Hallelujah BBQ.” Barrow founded Hallelujah BBQ through Rescue Mission first as a catering business, and now plans to expand it into a restaurant completely staffed by mission residents. Despite his extensive reading on the subject, opening and running a restaurant will present something of a learning curve. Barbecue, however, is right in Barrow’s wheelhouse. “I’ve studied the art of barbeque for 40 years,” he said. “I can probably cook the finest beef brisket you will taste east

of Austin. I have spied on every barbeque restaurant within 200 miles of El Paso, and we can beat them all.” Hallelujah BBQ is scheduled to open in El Paso in early 2017. n BY JULIE ENGEBRETSON

Matthew McClard

(BFA ’00)


You might not have gotten the word yet, but fun, boldly patterned socks are replacing neckties as a way for men to express their personalities. In any haberdashery, shoppers can find large selections of socks with unusual designs. For Baylor alumnus Matthew McClard, this fashion trend has meant big business for his company, Foot Cardigan. Founded in 2012, Foot Cardigan is a sock subscription company in which customers receive a random pair of colorful, boldly patterned socks each month. “We design awesome men’s, women’s and kids’ socks, then send them all over the world,” McClard said. “Our goal is to take the otherwise snooze of an errand of buying socks and make it fun again. Not to mention that everyone loves getting fun mail.” Originally from Little Rock, Ark., McClard moved to Oxnard, Calif., as a senior in high school. He decided to apply to Baylor after a group of church friends did, and because

the University offered the major he was interested in pursuing. McClard would go on to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in graphic design from Baylor. “Fine arts was something I always wanted to do,” McClard said. “My design classes taught me a lot about creatively solving problems and how to convey ideas in a visual manner. My fine art classes were great at teaching me how to express myself within different mediums. Both of these have been invaluable in creating the business and art side of Foot Cardigan.” After graduating, McClard got a job in graphic design and industrial design for an interior design company in Dallas, a position he held for about five years. During that time, he also moonlighted as a web developer before beginning a new job at a branding company. In early 2012, McClard and Bryan DeLuca, Foot Cardigan’s CEO, were working for different companies in the same small building and became acquainted. DeLuca and his team had the idea for Foot Cardigan but needed to create a website. They chose McClard to help them, bringing him in as a partner in the new company.

McClard and a group of freelance designers would eventually create the sock designs. “As far as idea generation, we have tried to embrace the absurdity of what we do. So nothing is off the table. If we think it’s funny, or a good idea, we run with it,” McClard said. Foot Cardigan has attracted notice from news outlets such as the Dallas Morning News and Good Morning America, and in October 2015 the hosts of the ABC television show Shark Tank were so impressed by McClard and his partners that they made Foot Cardigan a lucrative investment offer. “It was reassuring to know people as smart as the Sharks believed in what we are doing and loved the idea,” McClard said. “The fact that we were able to get four offers blew us away. It gave us a lot of confidence in our plans for the future.” n BY JULIE CARLSON

Vincent Harris

(BA ’09)


A political junkie since middle school, Vincent Harris had already worked on a lengthy list of political campaigns before he could legally drive. Today, he is the founder and chief executive officer of his eponymous (and very successful) digital advertising and marketing firm, Harris Media, LLC. It’s based in Austin and boasts a client list that includes U.S. Senators Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mitch McConnell, former Texas Governor Rick Perry and even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. While at Baylor, Harris began as a political science major, but he was inspired to switch after some meaningful time spent in Scripture. “I started at Baylor early, the summer right after high school,” he said. “I was working on Van Taylor’s congressional race in Waco, plus I was eager to start school. I spent a lot of time that summer reading


Scripture outside North Village, and I decided to change my major to religion. I was raised in a Christian household but I would say I really became a Christian at Baylor.” Harris’ theology courses were some of his favorites at Baylor, including one with Dr. Barry Harvey, whose final exam remains the most challenging Harris ever saw. “There was only one question –– ‘Who is God?,’” Harris said. “(Dr. Harvey) told us he’d received onesentence answers and some (that were) multiple pages long. Scariest final I ever took.” Harris’ work on local, state and national campaigns throughout his time at Baylor sometimes dictated his course schedule, as when he elected to study abroad in Maastricht, The Netherlands, for its conveniently front-loaded semester. “One of the reasons I did the Maastricht program was that all the coursework was done in two months or something like that, leaving time for me to come back to the States and work on Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign,” Harris said. “And I remember that in fall 2008, I tried to pack all my classes into

a Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday schedule, leaving Thursday and Friday to commute down to Austin to work on Senator John Cornyn’s reelection campaign.” Nothing if not ambitious, Harris finished his bachelor’s degree in just three years, and during that time managed to be an active member of the social fraternity Tau Kappa Epsilon and, for two years, Baylor student government. “And I may or may not have been a member of The Grand Noze Party as well,” Harris said. “Being a Noze brother might have been the coolest thing I did while at Baylor.” When he’s not masterminding digital strategies for some of the biggest names in politics, you just might find him in Waco — the city he considers his hometown. “I’m up there a lot. I teach a political science class at Baylor,” Harris said. “I know I’ve lived in Austin for six years, and I grew up an hour outside D.C., but I met my wife and my best friend at Baylor. I became a Christian there. I became who I am in Waco.” n BY JULIE ENGEBRETSON

Lisa Calhoun

(BA ’94)


You might consider Lisa Calhoun an entrepreneurial wizard. She has founded not one successful business, but two –– and writes a column for Inc. magazine as well. In 2006 Calhoun formed her first company, Write2Market, which is ranked among the top 10 PR agencies for startups in the country. In 2015 she launched her second company, Valor Ventures, an Atlanta-based venture partnership that invests in high potential tech startups from diverse founding teams. “I love helping companies grow. I grew up doing that even in my parents’ print shop. It’s an intrinsic passion,” Calhoun said. Calhoun is no stranger to hard work. Working during her teen years in her parents’ print shop in Crawford County, Ga., she handled sales, typesetting on computers, darkroom work, padding and cutting, managing inventory and bookkeeping –– as well as light deliveries once she could drive. As a National Merit Scholar in high school, Calhoun was brought to the attention of Baylor University and Bill Dube, who was working in the University’s financial aid department at that time. “I applied to one school — Baylor. I felt like Baylor chose me,” Calhoun said. “When I realized I

had a full-tuition scholarship, my plans were to revel in learning and just absolutely smother myself with the joy of learning.” She did just that and graduated summa cum laude in 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts in both professional writing and in Russian language. After graduation, Calhoun worked for a PR agency in San Antonio, as a marketing director at the American Payroll Association, and spent a decade in progressively more challenging marketing roles. Ten years after her Baylor graduation, Calhoun earned an MBA from the University of Texas at San Antonio and moved home to Georgia to start Write2Market. In her early 30s, she lived in her brother’s basement to minimize costs while getting Write2Market on its feet. Calhoun gives credit to a number of her Baylor professors who guided her journey –– including Betty Christian, Ann Miller, Bob Darden and Michael Long. “The professors are what makes Baylor — they are the blood, bone and soul of the school,” Calhoun said. “The relationships I built, mostly with professors, gave me the confidence to go into the world with the beginnings of my own voice. Baylor gave me my first big deal — the opportunity to learn from the best. Baylor’s encouragement to learn, grow and do changed my life.” Calhoun is now focused on Valor Ventures and sees a bright future in the venture partnership. “Gender-diverse founding teams are correlated with

63 percent greater financial performance,” she said. “That’s just one of reasons I’m excited about this fund.” Despite her success, Calhoun has yet to feel like she has “made it” in business. “I believe in practice, I believe in the game,” she said. “Ultimately, I’ll know I’ve made it when, because I played, not only the score changed, but the game changed also.” n BY JULIE CARLSON

David Burrows

(BBA ’85)


If one member of the Baylor College of Arts & Sciences Board of Advocates has his way, his new business venture will change the way people get their clothes cleaned. David Burrows is co-founder of the on-demand laundry service called Laundri. It began in Dallas under another name in February 2015 after Burrows got the idea for a company that would be “like an Uber for your clothes.”


“I was trying to think of something where I could take any smartphone and apply that modern technology to an oldschool industry sector,” Burrows said. “I realized that with dry cleaning and laundry, nothing had really changed much.” Burrows was working for Cinsay in Austin when he began his brainstorming. He soon discovered that one of his colleagues there, John Sanchez, was working on a phone app for an online laundry service. The two men teamed up and eventually launched Laundri, beginning in Dallas. “During our first week we made $86, and it kept increasing exponentially,” Burrows said. “We knew we were onto something when we got an offer from a dry cleaning company to buy the Laundri phone app for almost $1 million in cash. We decided to keep pursuing it ourselves, and now we’ve got most of Dallas developed and are looking at expanding into Fort Worth, Austin, Houston and San Antonio.” With Laundri, a customer first sets up an account. Then, when they need clothes cleaned or shoes shined, they will enter requested pickup and delivery times either online or through the app. The customer gets an immediate confirmation by text, and then shortly before pickup they are notified that a driver is on the way, and are shown a photo of the driver as a security measure. The clothes and shoes are picked up, taken to one of the approved companies that Laundri contracts with for services, are cleaned or shined and then returned at the agreed-upon time. Laundri picks up and delivers to homes,

offices and hotels, and the company hires its own full- and part-time employees. “Our users pay a modest flat rate for pickup and delivery, and then we mark up each item that we service to make our profit,” Burrows said. Laundri is just the latest entrepreneurial venture for Burrows, who got his degree in business from Baylor but maintains both a professional and personal interest in the arts, especially film and digital media. “After I worked awhile with Mark Cuban at, I launched my own digital ad agency and combined it with a video production company I called Fzzz! Media,” Burrows said. “We did documentaries, music videos and several commercials. Down the years I have also acted in and produced many film and television projects, so I guess you could say I’ve always had one foot in the film world.” This future business leader came to Baylor with a pronounced fear of public speaking, but that began to disappear after the late communication professor George Stokes taught him in a speech class. “Professor Stokes was an absolutely amazing mentor,” Burrows said. “He helped me overcome my fears and improve my delivery, and told me I had a good voice and shouldn’t be afraid to use it. That class had a huge impact on me.” n BY RANDY FIEDLER

Taylor Paschal (BA ’08)


Only a few people can say they formed a company during their undergraduate years in college, but Taylor Paschal is one of them. Her Live to Love apparel company was started out of her apartment in 2008, the year she graduated with a degree in psychology from Baylor. Live to Love is a faithbased company with a goal of spreading positive and empowering messages through clothing, accessories, and most recently, prints. “The negativity of the world, in the media, and simply seeing kids wearing offensive and negative shirts at concerts weighed extremely heavy on my heart,” Paschal said. “I decided to spread a positive message through shirts and clothing by starting a faithbased clothing company. Prior to this, I had never had a job, besides babysitting in high school, so I had zero experience and honestly didn’t know where to start.” Paschal did some research and came up with a name for

her company that doubled as a message. She also created a logo herself and got it screen printed on $75 worth of Hanes T-shirts from the local Wal-Mart. Paschal had friends in the music industry, who agreed to promote her clothing line at concerts and festivals. That promotion, along with the use of social media and an online store, helped her reach potential buyers throughout the world. “It was very surreal to receive an order from a country I had never heard of. I guess that was the moment that I knew I had ‘made it,’” Paschal said. Live to Love continues to be a one-woman show and it isn’t Paschal’s only gig. She’s employed as a therapist at a residential treatment center in Tyler, working with boys from the ages of 10 to 18 who have endured an immense amount of trauma and abuse in their lives. Live to Love continues to expand and recently entered the print and card business. One of Paschal’s card designs was featured in a Huffington Post story on “15 Honest Father’s Day Cards to Give Your Parenting Partner.” “Prints are another great vessel to spread positive messages,” she said.

Paschal said her entire Baylor experience was “astronomically instrumental” in encouraging her career goals. She grew spiritually and felt a calling to make a positive impact. That led to Live to Love apparel. “My years at Baylor sparked my passion to do something great by being surrounded by inspiring students and faculty every day on campus,” Paschal said. “I would say to current students at Baylor that you go to the greatest university in the world. Use the resources that it provides to make your dreams come true.” n BY JULIE CARLSON


Blake Batson

(BA ’08)


It’s a bit ironic. When Blake Batson began his undergraduate education at Baylor, he started off in the Hankamer School of Business. But after he took a class on how to create a business, he decided the entrepreneurial life wasn’t for him and switched his major to philosophy. So what is this Arts & Sciences alumnus who left business for philosophy doing now? Why, he is the owner of an immensely popular business –– the Common Grounds coffee shop adjoining the Baylor campus –– with a brandnew business startup begun. “My life dream was to get a PhD and teach,” Batson said. “I was working part-time at Common Grounds, and I was promoted to


manager. I enjoyed that –– I loved the culture and leading the staff, who were all college kids. When the previous owner decided to sell, I decided this would be a good business for me.” While Batson said he uses intuition in leading his staff, he had to read a lot to learn the “business” side, such as understanding cash flow and balance sheets. His wife Kimberly, a fellow Baylor Arts & Sciences graduate, partners with him in running the coffee shop by handling catering and administration. Batson has proved he has a head for business. He has doubled the coffee shop’s outdoor concert area and has quadrupled the number of catering jobs. He’s also expanded the reach of his operation with two food trucks named Milo that serve breakfast and brunch made with locally sourced food. One food truck is parked at the Magnolia Silos, the shopping destination owned by Chip and Joanna Gaines of Fixer Upper fame. A new Batson-created business that’s already a hit with Baylor students opened this spring. Heritage Creamery, located next door to Common Grounds, serves ice cream and desserts. “We use local dairy farms to produce organic ice cream. We developed our own ice cream recipe and also make other

desserts,” Batson said. “For example, my dad, who died in 2011, had a chocolate chip recipe that everyone loves. We have taken that recipe and incorporated it into Creamery ice cream sandwiches.” A big dream of Batson’s is to further expand by opening a grocery store in booming downtown Waco, which he says is a “food desert” –– a term for an urban neighborhood without ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. Batson credits his Baylor education for preparing him for success. He points to two of his philosophy professors, Dr. Michael Beaty and Dr. Jonathan Kvanvig, as mentors who pushed him academically and made him a better thinker. “I would tell students to not limit themselves by thinking they are only trained to work in the humanities. The College of Arts & Sciences teaches universal skills, such as how to communicate in a succinct way and how to be a selflearner,” Batson said. n BY JULIE CARLSON


Two Baylor Arts & Sciences alumnae are helping preserve and share some of the most cherished historical sites in Texas On the south side of the campus administration building that bears his name is a quote from legendary Baylor President Pat Neff that reads, “The preservers of history are as heroic as its makers.” If that’s true, then Baylor Arts & Sciences alumnae Becky Dinnin (BA ’88) and Shannon Roberts (BA ’86) are heroes in the making. It’s often said that history repeats itself, but Dinnin and Roberts prove that history sometimes runs in parallel lines. Both women walked similar paths at Baylor, went on to distinguish themselves in their careers, and within a few months of each other in 2015 landed in remarkably similar situations –– Dinnin as the inaugural executive director of the Alamo, and Roberts as the latest executive director of the Dallas Historical Society. à

Telling the Alamo Story On a Friday morning at the Alamo, when the shrine of Texas liberty is brimming with tourists, a conservator works quietly inside the sacristy, inspecting the limestone walls for remnants of stenciled frescos dating to the building’s origin as a church. The work is emblematic of what is happening at the Alamo under the leadership of Becky Dinnin. “A lot of people get the ‘Remember the Alamo’ piece but not necessarily the 130 years before that,” Dinnin said. “To really understand the context of, ‘why did they even go to the Alamo and care,’ you have to talk about what happened before, and what the buildings were.” For 110 years that story was told by the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, but in 2011, the four-anda-half-acre Alamo site came under the management of the Texas General Land Office. A search for the Alamo’s first executive director led to the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, where Dinnin was vice president of image and


communications. She began her work at the Alamo in February 2015. Coming from a family steeped in Lone Star lore –– her mother taught Texas history and both women are descended from Sarah Dodson, who sewed one of the flags carried during some early battles for Texas independence –– Dinnin is well aware of the significance of what she is doing. “The opportunity and the hopes and dreams that people have for the Alamo is just so encouraging and inspiring. I feel so blessed to be a part of it,” she said. Dinnin was born in Plainview and raised in Groom, where she graduated from high school in 1984 and left the Panhandle for Baylor. “I knew from junior high on that’s where I was going. I never considered anything else,” she said. She majored in music her first year, “but I realized that I really didn’t have the talent or the heart for it.” Dinnin turned to journalism with a minor in business marketing, building on what she learned working on the award-winning student newspaper at her small high school. Dinnin’s Baylor education included plenty of history classes and a work-study job transcribing interviews at the Institute for Oral History, working in the basement of Tidwell Bible Building. “There probably aren’t, in my opinion, better history departments in the state than Baylor’s. The teachers there are just fantastic,” she said.

Upon graduation in 1988, Dinnin worked at several Baptistaffiliated institutions, including Dallas Baptist University, the Baptist General Convention of Texas and GuideStone Financial Resources. She also earned an MBA at SMU in Dallas. She joined the staff of the San Antonio Chamber in 2007 and soon was forming relationships with the business and political leaders that keep San Antonio going. “San Antonio has a unique personality in its politics and economics and how things get done here,” she said. “It may be the seventh largest city in the country, but San Antonio is still culturally a very small town. Everybody knows everybody.” That knowledge is proving invaluable as Dinnin builds a team to develop and fund a master plan for the Alamo. Already the state has allocated $32 million and the city has budgeted $17 million, but more is needed. “We’re going to also raise a significant amount of private money through the Alamo Endowment,” Dinnin said. One goal of the master plan is to provide more information about the Alamo’s founding as a Spanish mission in 1718 and its role as a military outpost long before the events of the Texas Revolution in 1836. “That means more interpretive panels, more areas that are perhaps restored or rebuilt to help you see visually what the site footprint looked like,” Dinnin said. The master plan will include a new museum to display more of the 40,000 artifacts currently in storage, and to showcase the 200-plus items collected by Phil Collins. The pop musician became obsessed with the Alamo while watching a Walt Disney “Davy Crockett” miniseries as a boy in England. He quietly built an impresive collection and gave it to the Alamo in 2014. Dinnin said she hopes to have drawings and ideas for the master plan on the table by the summer of 2016. “There’s a lot of work we’re doing right now that’s helping us evaluate where we are.” Meanwhile, Dinnin leads a staff of 60 full- and part-time employees

who keep the Alamo open 363 days a year for 2 million annual visitors. Their jobs range from conserving and maintaining the physical buildings to leading tours to selling mementoes. “In the end, the goal for all of us is to be sure we are doing right by the Alamo and what it stands for,” Dinnin said.

Sharing Dallas with the World Standing on the steps of the Hall of State at Fair Park in Dallas, Shannon Roberts can see across the grand Esplanade, built in 1936 for the Texas Centennial Exposition, and out toward the glass towers of downtown. The perspective in many ways defines her mission as executive director of the Dallas Historical Society –– to share past, present and future. “I am a proud fourth generation Dallasite and a seventh generation Texan,” said Roberts, who took the position in June 2015. “I saw an opportunity to have a dialogue with my community regarding the diversity of our shared history. As Dallas continues to grow, I think it is important to reach back into our past and tell the very colorful story of some of our earliest days as a city.” With an annual budget of more than $1 million, Roberts leads a staff of five full- and three parttime employees who maintain and showcase a collection of approximately 3 million artifacts focused on Dallas and Texas. Their biggest challenge, she said, is to make history relevant to diverse audiences. “I can capture the imagination of just about anyone by taking them

into our collection and finding something from the past that elicits an ‘aha’ moment,” she said. “Unfortunately, that is not feasible. We are continually talking about how to capture that ‘aha’ moment for a broader audience and how to make the history of Dallas and Texas inspiring for future generations.” Roberts’ journey to the Dallas Historical Society began at the Episcopal School of Dallas, where she graduated in 1982. She earned a BA in journalism from Baylor in 1986 and an MBA in 1994 from The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business. At Baylor, Roberts honed her writing skills, which she said have been particularly important as a fundraiser. At the same time, she gained confidence through a required public speaking course that included daily extemporaneous exercises. “Years later, this proved to be a real-life exercise that gave me the tools to think on my feet in a thoughtful manner,” she said. Roberts has put those tools to work through executive and development roles at the Resource Center, Dallas Children’s Museum and the Dallas Children’s Theater. Most recently she was executive director of the Santa Fe Children’s Museum in New Mexico. The experience of leading a museum located within a historic district is serving Roberts well at the Hall of State. “The Society has been the steward of the Hall of State since 1937 and this is a tremendous responsibility to the people of Dallas,” she said. “I take the care and conservation of both the Hall

and our collection very seriously and of course, the conservation issues can be quite costly and complicated.” For Roberts, getting to know the Hall of State has involved some personal exploration. “I take to Instagram pretty frequently to tell my own ‘backstage’ story of what it is like to work on a daily basis in an art deco treasure,” she said. “Just recently, I took a photo from the inside of my office elevator because the original gates are so beautiful. I did spend one afternoon with a giant set of keys opening doors and passageways. I know I have only scratched the surface but it was a great adventure. The Hall of State is a never ending design inspiration.” The Hall is also a much-visited landmark, especially for three weeks each fall when some 150,000 people view a special exhibit during the State Fair of Texas. This year it was “Big Texas Music” celebrating the contributions of Texas-born musicians –– from Van Cliburn to Buddy Holly and Dallas native Stevie Ray Vaughn. On a year-round basis the Dallas Historical Society welcomes researchers working on everything from academic papers to screenplays to personal family histories. “Since we are housed in one of the most important Art Deco buildings in the United States, we have an opportunity to bring people to our museum for any number of reasons, but I always hope that they walk away discovering something new about both design and history,” Roberts said. n


While Baylor’s commitment to equip students for Christian ministry has never dimmed, the ways that students are able to serve others have diversified


hen Baylor University was chartered by the Republic of Texas in 1845, one of the guiding visions held by its Baptist founders for the new school was to train students who would spend their lives as ministers and missionaries. And while Baylor has undergone many changes since those early days on the Texas frontier, the University’s commitment to equipping young men and women for Christian ministry remains a core value embraced by thousands of students. When Baylor began religious instruction in 1846 with the start of its first classes, most students who felt called to ministry were “Baptist preacher boys” — young men, primarily from Texas, who were bent upon preaching, evangelizing and shepherding a Baptist flock. That template has expanded over the past 170 years. While some of the 2,000 undergraduates


enrolled in Baylor religion classes each year feel called to become ministers, the forms that their ministry takes have multiplied. Different, too, are the types of individuals who build upon the bedrock taught in their religion classes, which focus on the Bible, ethics, theology, church history, ministry and world religions. Baptists still abound in Baylor religion classes — some 850 students each year — but “there are all sorts of denominational identities now among those who feel a call, as well as nondenominational ones,” said Dr. Jeter Basden, professor of religion and director of ministry guidance. “And these days, we have more women than men.” The pulpit does not top the list of where Baylor ministry students envision themselves, Basden said. They most often mention an interest in missions,

followed by youth ministry, music ministry, preaching, education and children’s ministry. Baylor students remain committed to seeking ministry careers, even though the first years after graduation are often challenging ones. Dr. William Bellinger Jr., chair of Baylor’s religion department and The W. Marshall and Lulie Craig Chairhold in Bible, said beginning positions generally are in small churches with relatively low salaries. The post may be only part-time, requiring a minister to pick up a second vocation to make a living. Add to that the usual ministerial challenges, such as “living in a fishbowl experience, being on call 24/7 and having very little discretionary time,” Basden said. “On top of all that, you might be called on to do things like drive the church bus and fix the church’s sound system or air conditioner.”

Despite those hurdles, most Baylor ministry students forge ahead, strengthened by their faith in God and the encouragement and guidance of religion faculty. Among them is senior Nate Hilgenkamp, who blogs as “The Official Preacher of the Penthouse” and hails from Eden Prairie, Minn. He grew up in a Baptist church, serves as a group leader in a college and young adult ministry at McGregor’s Harris Creek Baptist Church and plans to become a lead pastor. A sermon Hilgenkamp delivered inspired by “the Penthouse” — his cramped third-floor Waco apartment — has netted him a preaching scholarship award from the Baptist General Convention of Texas. “I live with six other guys, and we’re crammed in one bedroom with three bunk beds,” he said. “People will look at it and say, ‘How does that work?’ That’s the same question Mary asked when the angel Gabriel told her she would have a son, and what Zechariah (father of John the Baptist) said when Gabriel said he would be a father. They asked, ‘How shall this be?’ Mary said, ‘I’m a virgin.’ Zechariah said, ‘I’m old.’” “Things may be beyond our ability,” Hilgenkamp said. “But God can make them happen.” Sometimes, students are certain they are headed on a straight road to a vocation — and then it veers. “My idea was to go to Yale and become a cardiovascular surgeon,” recalled 2002 Baylor alumna Amy Wilkins. “I grew up in a traditional conservative Southern Baptist church. I didn’t know such a thing as a female minister existed.” Wilkins entered Baylor as a University Scholar and had a premed scholarship, but “I gradually started to feel that God was calling me into ministry,” she said. “I assumed that meant being a medical missionary. But slowly, God made it clear that while I was to be in missions, I was not to be a medical missionary. I found that I really had a heart for the local church.” She went on to earn her MDiv degree from Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary, and today she is the Rev. Amy Wilkins, minister of community and global missions at Valley Ranch Baptist Church in Coppell, TX. She works

with overseas missions support, mission trips and many localserving opportunities such as homeless ministries and an English as a Second Language Program. Kelsey Podley, a senior psychology major from California, sees her ministry as helping people through counseling. “God put me at Baylor,” she said. “I took an introduction to ministry class, and we wrote a paper on what our call is. I’ve always liked to help people who would come to me with problems. I get so much joy out of helping them through difficult times and bringing God’s comfort.” Podley’s studies at Baylor have been made easier by a Baptist Ministry Scholarship, and after graduation in May 2016 she plans to earn a master’s degree in social work. “My dream is to have my own practice,” Podley said. “But there’s a need for counselors in churches. A lot of them don’t have counselors on their staffs. I’d like to do that at least part-time or as a volunteer. I want to work with lots of different kinds of people, to emulate God’s love in a variety of ways.”


For all ministers, communication is vital, and not just for preaching or leading Bible study. Increasingly important is cross-cultural communication, regardless of whether ministers serve in their native countries or elsewhere. “That can involve anything from language to economics to geography to lifestyle,” Bellinger said. These days, too, serving as a minister often means being an entrepreneur. Some ministry graduates find themselves as church-starters rather than in positions at an established church. And those in missions may not have the financial support of a mission board or agency, so “you’re finding a way to earn your

living and spread the gospel,” Basden said. Like many other university graduates, those who enter the ministry may face yet another challenge — significant student debt and often, a relatively modest income from which to repay it. To ease that burden, Baylor awards scholarships to all qualified Baptist ministry students, with the Baptist General Convention of Texas contributing a portion of that. Four years ago, Baylor expanded financial assistance with a few scholarships for qualified non-Baptist ministry students. That number has grown, and the goal is to increase it to include all qualified non-Baptist ministry students. “There are people I’ll never meet, but they’ve impacted my life through scholarships and freed up my family and me from taking out loans,” Hilgenkamp said. “I let people know how great Baylor is. With all the religion professors, I’ve never felt uncomfortable walking into their offices. They want what’s best for me.” Faculty members are “so good about wanting to know what’s going on in students’ lives and supporting us in what we need,” Podley said. Bellinger said he and other members of Baylor’s religion faculty are repaid many times over for the investment they make in the lives of students preparing for Christian ministry. “It’s so rewarding to see these students clarify what God is calling them to do, to see them determine what their gifts, skills and passions are — and then to watch what happens when they go from here to churches, nonprofits or around the world,” Bellinger said. n



The Wingo family not only has strong ties to Baylor University, but its members have made important contributions to American journalism. Hal Wingo (BA ’57, MA ’63) was a reporter and editor for Life magazine and a founding editor of People magazine, while his son Trey (BA ’85) is a popular anchor and commentator on ESPN. Trey hosts the daily pro football news and information show NFL Live, as well as NFL Insiders: Sunday Edition and the NFL Draft. He also anchors SportsCenter specials and is a regular contributor to ESPN Radio. In this installment of Q&A, we asked John Morris, who was a television sports anchor before he became Baylor’s assistant athletic director for broadcasting and “The Voice of the Baylor Bears,” to talk with Trey Wingo about his days as a Baylor student and his career at ESPN. à


Was working at ESPN always a goal of yours? Yes. Growing up Greenwich, Conn., I can still remember coming home from Baylor for breaks and turning on the cable and seeing this little station called ESPN. At that time there was a lot of Australian Rules Football on, as well as some other crazy programming, but they also had the NCAA Basketball tournament and I thought, “How cool would it be to be able to come home and work at a place like this?”

Has it turned out to be everything you hoped it would be? Everything and more. My first love in sports has always been football, and for the last 14 years I’ve hosted NFL Live, NFL Primetime, NFL Kickoff, the NFL Draft, and now NFL Insiders Sunday Edition. It’s been great. Add in covering The Olympics as well as both The U.S. Open and British Open in golf –– well, it’s been an incredible journey.

You have great family ties to Baylor –– I was in school with your sister Nancy. Was there ever a doubt you’d attend Baylor? Yes, actually. Almost everyone in our family has gone to Baylor, and there were certainly times where I thought I would be the one to break that mold, but it didn’t turn out that way. I’m very happy for the time I spent there and most of my closest friends are still connected to Baylor in some way.

How did your time at Baylor help prepare you for your career? Honestly, I didn’t take that part of my education as seriously as I should. That’s on me more than the school, but I was encouraged several times by some outstanding professors to “go for it.” Without them telling me they believed in me, I’m not sure I ever would have.

How have things What stands out in changed at ESPN during your mind from your your time there? time at Baylor? The best way to describe that is to think of it this way –– back in 1979, ESPN started out as the current-day equivalent of a startup blog, and it’s literally turned into “The World Wide Leader in Sports.” It’s been fun to watch that transformation and, to be a part of it.

There were some wellpublicized layoffs at ESPN in 2015. How did that affect you? It was very difficult. From a personal standpoint it was very hard, but this business continues to evolve and we as a company are trying to do what we think is best to keep moving forward.

More than anything, it’s the memories of some great times with some great friends that I still get together with at least once a year on an annual golf outing. It’s funny –– there are so many “big” moments in the college years, but the ones I cling to the most to these days are the little ones, just laughing and hanging out with some great friends.

Could you have ever dreamed of Baylor football reaching the heights it has lately under Art Briles? I always noticed when I was at Baylor that we as a football program continually pumped out players to the NFL –– more than many other highprofile programs. I always had hopes that it could someday turn into what Art has made it.

Have you noticed a higher profile for Baylor University because of our recent athletic success? Without question. And that’s not just (because of) Art, it’s what Kim Mulkey has done for the women’s basketball program, and what Scott Drew has done for the men’s program –– and quite frankly, because of all the other programs that are doing so well. So many people outside of “the bubble” know of Baylor simply because of its success in athletics.

Finally, are there any items on your bucket list, personally and professionally, that you can share with us? Not really. The ESPN job remains fun and the people I work with remain great. That pretty much is all you can ask for. n

First Person

An Inside Look at Baylor Commencement BY LOIS FERGUSON

Since the first Baylor University graduate received his degree back in 1854, commencement has been one of the highlights of each academic year. Lois Ferguson (BA ’68, MSED ’94), Baylor’s manager of commencement and facilities planning, has been coordinating University commencements for the past 17 years. Her skill in overseeing such a complicated task is one of the reasons her peers at other institutions elected her as president of the North American Association of Commencement Officers. To get a better idea of what it takes to make a Baylor commencement ceremony run smoothly, we asked Ferguson to give us a peek under the hood in this First-Person essay. à


There is a sense of anticipation in the air –– the arena seats fill quickly while hundreds of empty seats are carefully arranged on the floor of the Ferrell Center, just waiting. And then the big moment –– the music changes, the students in their black gowns, except for a few in Baylor green, enter from all corners of the building and cheers erupt around the arena. Precise, exciting –– pretty much perfect. But behind the scenes, there are a thousand and one details that have taken a large group of dedicated faculty and staff a whole semester to take care of and to make it all happen. Commencement occurs three times a year at Baylor University –– in August, December and May. For many years Baylor has gone through the cycle at the end of every academic period, which allows students to participate in a ceremony as they finish their coursework and are certified to have met all degree requirements. Many schools hold commencement only once a year and don’t take things this far –– grades aren’t due until after the ceremonies and sometimes finals haven’t even been taken yet when the ceremonies are held. That makes those ceremonies seem “not quite real,” at least in the eyes of some of us. Dates and times of ceremonies at Baylor are a given, but our recent creation of an additional academic unit (the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences) has required some careful counting to equalize the size of the ceremonies and keep their length within a reasonable time. Details abound, such as the selection of a retired faculty member to carry the mace, choosing parents to lead the prayer, deciding on special music for every ceremony and the number of chairs needed on the floor and on the stage, determining which Regents will attend (and making sure

their robes are available and transportation is set), producing a script to keep the ceremony on track, making sure the graduates are certified, awarding outstanding faculty each May –– well, you get the idea. And lest we forget, there’s Bear Faire every semester. It’s an event Baylor offers to help graduates finalize the details needed to take part in their commencement ceremony, such as purchasing caps and gowns and even checking the spelling of names for diplomas. Bear Faire gets more popular each year, with more than 60 percent of undergrads participating last spring. If I seem to be painting a picture of commencement as all detail and dreary work, let me say that there is a wonderful side to the process. The best part for me is watching students walk the stage and receive their actual diplomas. Some folks like to look at the graduates’ shoes and figure out how many will trip down the stairs, while others smirk at the sight of a pair of tennis shoes and hairy legs protruding from the bottom of an un-pressed robe. I especially love it when the provost asks all graduates to stand, and the students all look at each other to see if they are the “graduates” he means and finally begin to rise for the official conferral of degrees. Of course, there are the occasional students who pull out a pair of “Noze” glasses to greet Judge Starr, and lots of hugs onstage. There once was even a tassel spinning atop a hat as its engineering student owner walked the stage. Before each ceremony begins, the Registrar’s Office orders diplomas. They are verified for accuracy and rolled into tubes with name labels. Pronunciation help is provided to the fabulous faculty member who reads the names of the graduating students during the ceremony.

During their big moment, each student will have two photos made –– one during the diploma presentation with President Ken Starr, and another posed in front of a green screen that will allow them to later add a campus scene of their choice. In addition, undergraduates who graduate with a 4.0 grade point average will receive an Alpha Chi medallion. Sometimes we get requests for special assistance for graduates walking the stage –– those stairs are pesky when you’re on crutches. Occasionally, we have the somber responsibility to help the family of a student who has passed away and has come to commencement to receive a posthumous degree. There have been many heartwarming moments over the years, such as seeing a gentleman of 80+ years walk the stage after coming back to campus to finally complete his degree, or helping across the stage another older gentleman, who was forced to leave campus 50 years earlier to take an out-of-state job and hadn’t been able to return for his diploma ceremony until then. I also won’t forget the student with impaired sight who crossed the stage twice, first for her bachelor’s degree and later for her master’s –– and both times with her companion dog at her side. Of course, we also love to watch the proud Baylor students who have become the first in their families to graduate from college. So, with all the planning and work it takes to hold commencement three times a year at Baylor, why do we do it? All I can say is there really is nothing else on campus that compares to this capstone event. Commencement is the ultimate completion of the Baylor University experience, and it must be absolutely, unequivocally the best it can be. n

Our Back Pages


Hallie Earle, Scientific Pioneer BY RANDY FIEDLER On Aug. 21, 2013, the first students moved into Hallie Earle Hall, part of Baylor’s brandnew East Village Residential Community and home of the University’s Science and Health Living-Learning Center. Since then, hundreds of Baylor students preparing for careers in healthcare have made Hallie Earle Hall their campus home, but some of them might not know just how special the woman was whose life and career are memorialized in the building’s name. Hallie Earle was born near Hewitt on Sept. 27, 1880, on the small ranch south of Waco that her family had owned since before the Civil War. Earle graduated from Baylor in 1901, one of 17 women in a class of 17. She then completed a master of science degree at Baylor in 1902, and her talent was honored by having her master’s thesis placed in the cornerstone of the new Carroll Science Building. After three years spent teaching school in Gainesville, Earle entered Baylor University Medical School in Dallas as the only woman in her class. When she graduated with an MD degree in 1907, she set a record for the highest grade point average ever posted to that date, a distinction that stood for many years. Earle specialized in gynecology, and did postgraduate work in Chicago and New Orleans in addition to completing an

internship at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital. Coming back to Central Texas in 1908, Earle first practiced medicine at Torbett Hospital in Marlin, near Waco. In 1915 she moved to Waco and opened a medical office, becoming the city’s first licensed female physician. Her practice centered on women, and she assisted with medical examinations of coeds in Baylor’s physical education program. Earle never married and practice medicine in Waco for 33 years, retiring in 1948 to move back to the family ranch. But medicine was just one of two fields in which Earle can be considered a pioneer –– the other involved being a weather observer for almost half a century. Earle’s father, Isham Earle, had begun keeping weather observation records on his farm in 1879. After he retired in 1916, Hallie continued making weather observations and keeping detailed records, and for years she was the only weather observer in Central Texas. In 1960, the United States Weather Bureau presented Hallie Earle with the John Campanius Holm Award in recognition of her outstanding work. Earle died on Nov. 1, 1963, and is buried in Waco’s historic Oakwood Cemetery. In 1996, the Texas Historical Commission placed a marker on her grave commemorating her accomplishments. n

One Bear Place #97344 Waco, TX 76798-7344


Students Garrett MacPherson and Kat Wilson perform a scene from Baylor Theatre’s “Nora,” an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” directed by Cason Murphy.