By Trevor Allison
Dr. Blair Browning, assistant professor of communication studies, has been named the 2012 Collins Outstanding Professor. Students in the senior class voted for the award, which is sponsored by the Carr P. Collins Foundation.
“Being acknowledged by students is about the best honor I could have,” Browning said.
Browning, a 1995 Baylor graduate, said he was ecstatic when he heard he received the award, but also deeply humbled because he knows the quality of the professors who have received it in the past and was grateful to be mentioned among them.
“You look at the list of who has won the award— it’s the ‘hall-of-famers’ of Baylor,” Browning said.
Some of the former award winners were his professors when he was a student at Baylor, he said.
As the recipient of the Collins Award, Browning will receive $10,000 in cash and citation on a plaque, as well as recognition at the spring graduation and in various Baylor publications. He will also give a lecture on authentic leadership in late April.
Browning said he loves teaching because of the relationships he gets to form with students.
“So much in life comes down to relationships,” Browning said. “I love who I get to teach.”
He said he enjoys how connections he makes with students can carry on throughout their lives.
Browning, who teaches leadership and communication and conflict and communication, also said he enjoys the material he teaches and wants to help students apply that material to their lives.
Georgetown senior, a communications major, Amanda McLachlan, who has taken both courses taught by Browning, said she wasn’t surprised to hear he won the Collins Award.
“Dr. Browning is probably the best professor I’ve ever had,” McLachlan said. “He really cares about his students.”
McLachlan said she enjoys his humor in class and that his classroom is fun and engaging.
“He’s one of the few professors I can go to outside of class to talk about anything,” McLachlan said.
“He hits his points for his lectures, but they are definitely from the heart,” Arlington senior Ryan Guadagnolo said. “He cares about students enough to know their names and their lives on a personal level.”
McLachlan said there is an added element to Browning’s teaching that made him special.
“I love how Dr. Browning stands firm in his faith and uses it in lessons,” McLachlan said. “That helps me grow in my faith.”
Browning said he didn’t always plan on being a teacher. In fact, he says he stumbled into it.
He was asked to teach for a year after receiving his master’s degree, also from Baylor, in 1999.
He said it went well, and he enjoyed it, so he came back for another year. By then, he knew teaching was what he wanted to do.
“I fell in love with the job because it’s connecting with students, as well as giving info in a practical way,” Browning said.
But he doesn’t want to just give students theories, or a large amount of information. He wants to tell them why the information matters as well, he said.
Browning, who said he “bleeds green and gold,” especially loves teaching at Baylor.
To him, the difference between Baylor and other universities is the people, and that they are willing to go the extra mile to help each other here, he said.
“I don’t want to just teach,” he said. “I want to teach here.”
When teaching a class, Browning said he tries to incorporate some of the best practices from his colleagues and former professors.
“I’m modeling what I had professors do well for me,” he said. “I don’t want to just teach a class, I want to teach a class I would want to engage in.”