Students, Peers Recognize Professors

June 16, 2010

Dr. Joyce Jones, The Joyce Oliver Bowden Professor of Music, professor of organ and organist in residence at Baylor University, was named the Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year in April. The annual award is presented to a Baylor faculty member who makes a superlative contribution to the learning environment at Baylor through teaching, research and service. 
"Over the past four decades, she has committed these talents to service at Baylor, truly becoming an institution herself here and thus enriching the lives not only of her full-time students and the many others who attend her workshops and conferences here, but also of all those in our community for whom she has played," said Dr. James Bennighof, vice provost for academic affairs and policy and professor of music theory at Baylor.
Over the years, Jones held a number of teaching positions before joining the Baylor faculty in 1969 to serve in the position she still holds today. She currently teaches several classes, including undergraduate and graduate organ, organ methods, advanced undergraduate organ and degree recital in organ. 
The internationally known organist has been honored numerous times for her myriad of achievements. Jones' most recent award came from the American Guild of Organists, a national professional association serving the organ and choral music fields. Jones was chosen by the 22,000 members of the guild as the Honoree of the Year. She was the first woman to perform on the organ at the Crystal Cathedral, the first organist to play for the Grand Teton Music Festival and the only woman organist chosen to play with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra at the inauguration of the Ruffatti organ in Davies Symphony Hall. 
As the Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year, Jones is donating the $20,000 award rather than accepting it. "After learning that I had been named the recipient for the award, I determined that I would immediately return the money to Baylor to be divided between the endowment for the midwinter organ conference and two endowed organ scholarships to which my husband and I regularly contribute," Jones said. "By giving this to the endowment, the principal amount will continue to grow and the interest will be used to help future students in their studies at Baylor."

Senior class honors Dr. William Hillis as Collins Outstanding Professor
For the second year in a row, Baylor seniors named a biology teacher as the university's top professor. Last year, Dr. David Eldridge received the Collins Outstanding Professor Award and its $10,000 prize; this year, the honor goes to Dr. William Hillis, BS '53, the Cornelia Marschall Smith Distinguished Professor of Biology, which is only one of the many roles he has played in his 30-plus years at Baylor. 
Hillis graduated at the top of his class in 1953 with a degree in chemistry. He went on to earn his M.D. at Johns Hopkins, where he later worked before coming to Baylor as chair of the biology department in 1981. Four years later, he was named executive vice president, and in 1989 took over the role of vice president for student life, which he held until returning to the classroom full-time in 1998.
Over the years, Hillis held a number of research positions with the U.S. Air Force in Denmark, the Republic of the Congo and at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, where he focused on the investigation of human infectious disease epidemics throughout the world. He remained active as a colonel in the Air Force Reserve until 1985, serving in a variety of clinical and hospital positions.
The Collins award is also only the most recent of Hillis' many awards at Baylor. He was first named Baylor's Outstanding Professor in 1985, and he was honored by the provost's office with the Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year Award last spring. The Baylor Mortar Board has recognized Hillis with its Distinguished Professor Award three times, and Student Congress awarded him its Outstanding University Administrator Award in 1994.