History professor awarded research funds

By Molly Packer

Thanks to the Baylor graduating class of 1945, history professor Jeffrey Hamilton will travel to England sometime after the fall semester in 2011 to research the life of Henry de Lacy, the counselor to both Edward I and II who played an important political role in medieval England.

Hamilton, chairman of the history department, won the Centennial Professor Honor Award that supplies professors with funds to support research opportunities that are not covered by the university already.

Dr. Joe Cox, professor of management, leads the Centennial Professor Honor Award Committee.

“We thought Jeff Hamilton’s proposal was solid and it met the criteria the committee thought was important,” Cox said.

The committee looks for faculty who might have trouble funding research. Cox said the award is meant to help faculty bring back new and interesting information to the classroom.

The funds for the award were given by the 100th class to graduate from Baylor. Instead of leaving behind a physical gift, the class of 1945 decided to leave funds so that every year a tenured professor would be granted the opportunity to pursue research that otherwise might not be covered by the university.

Hamilton, who specializes in medieval English and French history, hopes to bring back information about de Lacy along with pictures and research about medieval England as a whole.

“I want to take pictures and visit important medieval sights,” Hamilton said. “I want to take pictures of the architecture and hopefully that will inspire a deeper interest in medieval England as a whole.”

Not much is known about Henry de Lacy other than the fact that he was the Earl of Lincoln and a counselor to Edward I and II.

“He kind of falls between the cracks and gets overlooked whereas if he lived in just the reign of Edward I or just the reign of Edward II he might get more attention,” Hamilton said. “Historians say he’s a really important person but they don’t say why.”

According to a Baylor press release, Waco’s access to documents about de Lacy is limited. With the grant given with the award, Hamilton will be able to find the documents and visit sites closely associated with de Lacy.

Hamilton has been researching the locations of different documents that might give clues to de Lacy’s life. Part of his research, Hamilton said, will be finding the documents and coming up with a plan for further research.

Cox said the Centennial Professor Honor Award is important to Baylor because it allows faculty to seek something they are passionate about and, in turn, bring it back to students. When giving out the award, Cox said the committee asks how the award will serve the faculty and students and be enjoyable for the winning faculty member.

“Every year I’d like to have a lot of people apply for this award,” Cox said. “It’s a good amount of money given with the award. I really enjoy being on this committee.”

Hamilton said he is thankful for the gift the class of 1945 left behind.

“Again, as I’ve said elsewhere, I’m certainly grateful to the centennial class,” Hamilton said. “The faculty really appreciate when the students appreciate them.”