First Person: Dr. Andrew Hogue
Dr. Andrew Hogue writes about how Baylor faculty are committed to providing students with learning opportunities outside the classroom
The Office of Engaged Learning (OEL) within the College of Arts & Sciences is on a mission to give Baylor under-graduate students the opportunity to expand their learning beyond the classroom. One way the OEL does this is by helping students apply for and win a variety of prestigious international awards allowing them to continue their education beyond Baylor. In this first person essay, Dr. Andrew Hogue, associate dean for engaged learning in the College of Arts & Sciences, says that Baylor faculty are committed to making these golden opportunities possible for their students.
In a flash of good judgment in December 2022, the British Government named Baylor senior Lauren Jarvis one of 40 Marshall Scholars. Created by Parliament in 1953 as a gesture of gratitude to the American people for their help in rebuilding the United Kingdom after World War II, the Marshall Scholarship funds our country’s most promising young people to study for graduate degrees at British universities on the belief that these students will help maintain our countries’ special relationship over the course of their lifetime. Lauren will join the ranks of two Supreme Court justices, six Pulitzer Prize winners, a Nobel Laureate, an astronaut and five previous Baylor Bears when the British Government funds her to study at the University of Exeter and the London School of Economics over the next two years.
This is an incredible accomplishment, and for Lauren, it is the product of hard work, clear vision, insatiable curiosity and an abiding belief that humanity can flourish if enough of us commit to that good work. She is as impressive in her own right as any student I can remember.
As I watched Lauren prepare for, apply for and eventually win the Marshall Scholarship this past fall, it occurred to me that, at the same time, she brought to the competition a unique and frankly unfair advantage — she had the good fortune of Baylor faculty mentors, a “great cloud of witnesses,” who have guided her toward success from the moment she stepped on campus. Students from other universities simply can’t take advantage of what a Baylor student like Lauren can. That is because — and I am certain of this — they don’t have a faculty quite like ours.
The norm across higher education is that faculty members teach their classes and do their research — and to be sure, there is plenty of that good work to do. But what makes Baylor a truly exceptional place for students is that we have a world-class faculty comprised of women and men who excel at teaching and research and go far beyond the call of duty to ensure that our students succeed in living out their callings — inside the classroom, certainly, and also far beyond it.
What makes Baylor a truly exceptional place for students is that we have a world-class faculty…who go far beyond the call of duty to ensure that our students succeed.
Take Dr. Richard Jordan. Long after he had taught Lauren to assess grand strategy in his political science class, Dr. Jordan supported her by pouring heart and soul into one of the most beautiful recommendation letters I have ever read, one that made clear how well he knew Lauren as more than someone who once sat in his classroom. Or, consider Dr. Rebecca Flavin. Two full years after Lauren had come under her tutelage, there was Dr. Flavin, coaching Lauren on how to respond to those formidable Marshall interviewers with confidence and poise.
These two were joined by Drs. Ivy Hammerly, Daniel Benyousky, and Victor Hinojosa, who all went to great lengths to help polish Lauren’s articulation of important principles in her emerging area of expertise. These, and others, were the proud members of Team Lauren Jarvis — a team that ultimately helped propel her toward winning the Marshall. And who knows what will happen for Lauren beyond that.
For Baylor faculty members like these, there is plenty of teaching to do, and they do it with excellence and conviction. There is groundbreaking research to produce, and they generate it prolifically to make the world better. And still, somehow, they manage to follow that Wendell Berry admonition to “every day do something that won’t compute.” That is to say that they step outside the serious demands on their time in order to guide students like Lauren in the sacred work of becoming their best selves.
No one did that better than retired Baylor Arts & Sciences Dean Elizabeth (Betsy) Vardaman. For 39 years, Dean Vardaman mentored innumerable Baylor students and assisted hundreds of them in attaining prestigious national scholarships, research and teaching fellowships, internships and other educational enrichment opportunities beyond the classroom. More than that, she spent countless
hours pouring into their souls, teaching them to maximize their potential, helping them dream of possibilities out beyond the borders they had previously imagined for themselves and motivating them to get down to the hard work of becoming the people whose worthiness she could always see.
Inspired by that legacy, and resolved to carry it forward after Dean Vardaman’s well-earned retirement, the College of Arts & Sciences established the Elizabeth Vardaman Faculty Awards in 2019. The “Betsy Awards,” as we call them, honor those faculty members who, like Dean Vardaman, excel as undergraduate mentors. (See a list of all winners below.)
Undoubtedly, Betsy Award winners are excellent classroom teachers. They are also much more, demonstrating excellence in and sustained commitment to helping students excel in activities such as guided research, professional development, civic engagement, global involvement, leadership or the pursuit of life-altering opportunities like the Marshall Scholarship.
Each spring, when we invite students to nominate their professors and faculty members to nominate their peers for a Betsy Award, what follows is a tidal wave of inspiration, and no two nominations look the same.
It looks like Dr. Annie Ginty, on the one hand, who mentors an astonishing 30-plus undergraduate researchers at any given time in her behavioral medicine lab, where they focus on the neurobiology of the peripheral nervous system. It looks like Senior Lecturer Lauren Weber, on the other, training singers and actors in musical theatre and launching them toward success in their careers as performers.
It looks like Dr. Jeffrey Olafsen, mentoring young scientists and helping them bid, often successfully, for the honor of becoming a Goldwater Scholar, recognized as one of the nation’s most promising young STEM researchers. And it looks like Dr. Jennifer Good, inspiring global citizenship as she erases the sometimes-artificial borders between the traditional classroom and the world beyond it.
The thread that runs across each of the 24 Betsy Award winners since 2019 is that their commitment to student flourishing is seemingly inexhaustible and evergreen. These faculty members take seriously the work of mentoring not because they have to, but because they care deeply about their students. Animated by a sense of calling and purpose in their own lives and careers, they see a horizon that extends far beyond the time a student spends in their classroom, and their commitment is about more than helping students learn to make a living. It is about helping their students learn to make a life.
This is a hallmark of Baylor, an inherited legacy that today’s faculty members carry forward with deep appreciation for those, like Dean Vardaman, who came before. For many of our students, it is this kind of devotion that makes all the difference.
Elizabeth Vardaman Award Winners
Susan Bratton Environmental Science
David Bridge Political Science
John Cunningham Communication
Rebecca Flavin Political Science
Kevin Pinney Chemistry
Pedro Reyes Management
Michael Scullin Psychology and Neuroscience
Michael Trakselis Chemistry
Annie Ginty Psychology
Marty Harvill Biology
Ivy Hamerly Political Science
Maxey Parrish Journalism
Coretta Pittman English
Wiff Rudd Music
Jason Whitt Honors Program
Lacy McNamee Communication Research
Erika Abel Honors Program
Shelby Garner Nursing
Jennifer Good German
Ginger Hanchey English
Victor Hinojosa Honors Program
Julie Sweet History
Lauren Weber Theater Arts
Jeffrey Olafsen Physics Research Leadership Award
“The commitment [of Betsy Award winners] is about more than helping students learn to make a living. It is about helping their students learn to make a life.”
Dr. Andrew Hogue