Baylor honors 12 for campus donation, Christian commitment

Baylor President Ken Starr presents chairman and CEO of the Newseum and Pulitzer Prize Winner Charles Overby with The Baylor Medal of Service for Media and Arts during Baylor’s 2011-2012 Meritorious Achievement Awards ceremony On Thursday in the Mayborn Museum Complex.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor

By Jade Mardirosian
Staff Writer

Baylor honored 12 people Thursday for their commitment and effort to spreading Christian values in the world, presenting them with various Meritorious Awards following a Board of Regents dinner held at the Andings Exhibition Gallery in the Mayborn Museum.

This is the second year Baylor has presented the Meritorious Awards as part of the homecoming festivities. Those that received awards were either Baylor alums or supporters of the university and all will be special guests at this year’s homecoming. Baylor Buddy Jones, chair of the Board of Regents, introduced the award recipients, describing them all as part of the Baylor family.

“We have some very distinguished alums and supporters,” Jones said. “They all share two traits, they love the Lord Jesus Christ and they are all committed to the mission of Baylor University. They epitomize the Baylor University spirit and…they all make us proud.”

Jones then introduced each award recipient and President Ken Starr and assistant dean of the Honors College Tommye Lou Davis presented each with a medal.

Baylor Legacy Awards were presented to Joe and Barbara Allbritton and Jim and Nell Hawkins. This award is presented to individuals who demonstrate extraordinary philanthropy and service to Baylor or causes that fit its mission as a university.

The Allbrittons are supporters of the Baylor Law School, the debate program, the art department, Moody Memorial Library and George W. Truett Theological Seminary. They are also donors of the Allbritton House since 1974, which is the home for the Baylor president.

The Hawkins are longtime donors to academic and athletic scholarships and recently donated $3.5 million for the Jim and Nell Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center. The Hawkins also previously donated considerably to the Lt. Jack Whetsel Jr. Basketball Practice Facility as well as donated funds for the first electronic scoreboard at Floyd Casey Stadium.

The Alumnus of the Year Award was presented to Bob Brewton, president and owner of Brewton Investment Corporation, and founder and chairman of the board of directors of the Baylor Angel Network.

The Alumnus/Alumna of the Year award is awarded annually to a graduate who has demonstrated remarkable achievement in the previous year.

The Young Alumnus of the Year Award was presented to Michael Lindsay who became the 8th president of Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., in July. Lindsay is a leading expert on religion and public life, is also the author of the Pulitzer-nominated book, Faith in the Halls of Power, as well as two dozen other publications and scholarly articles. This award is given annually to a graduate, age 40 or under, who has demonstrated remarkable achievement in the previous year.

Max Lucado, one of the world’s most influential Christian writers received the Pro Ecclesia Medal of Service Award. Lucado has been named “America’s Best Preacher” by Reader’s Digest and “America’s Pastor” by Christianity Today and is the only author with four Christian Book of the Year awards, having sold more than 80 million books. Lucado is an alumnus of Abilene Christian University and has been the minister of preaching at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio since 1988.

The Pro Ecclesia Medal of Service Award is given to an individual whose broad contributions to Christian ministry have made an immeasurable impact upon a local or global community.

The Pro Texana Medal of Service Award is given to an individual whose contributions in furthering the mission of the university in the public or non-profit sector have made an immeasurable impact. Mark White, former Governor of Texas from 1983 to 1987, received this award Thursday night. Jones explained that White played an important role in preserving the Big 12 Conference this past July.

“Mark White stepped up like he did a year ago and helped quarterback our effort,” Jones said. “For 112 days solid Mark White led us everyday. He was courageous, he was generous, he gave of his time and money and he did it all for Baylor.”

The Medal of Service for Media Arts was presented to Charles Overby, chairman and chief executive officer of The Freedom Forum, which is an independent non-partisan foundation dedicated to promoting a better understanding of the First Amendment.

Overby is the former editor of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., which won the Pulitzer Prize Public Service Award in 1983.

The Medal of Service for Media Arts is a new award given to an individual whose contributions to the fields of media communications and the arts, have made a significant impact on society.

The Baylor Founders Medal, established in 1969, is given to those whose service and contributions have been unusually significant to the life and future of the university. This year’s recipients of the Baylor Founders Medal were John and Marie Chiles, who are charter members of Baylor’s Old Main Society, Law School Chancellors, Endowed Scholarship Society, Torchbearers Society, and President’s Club. Jones said that the Chiles would also be honored in January 2012 at Founders Day.

Gary Keller received the Medal of Service for Business Leadership, but was unable to attend. Keller is co-founder and chairman of the board of Keller Williams Realty, which is the second largest and fastest growing residential real estate company in North America. Keller established the Keller Center for Research in Residential Real Estate and Marketing at Baylor and co-author of three best selling books on real estate.

The Medal of Service for Business Leadership is a new award given to an individual whose leadership has made a significant impact in our world and on future generations.

Starr concluded by thanking the award recipients for their contributions to the university.

“These great men and women have done great service to Baylor,” Starr said. “Some, like [my wife] Alice and I are adopted children to Baylor and being adopted is just wonderful. Others are, as it were natural born to the family, they chose wisely to come to Baylor and when you read about them you will be inspired because each of their stories inspires us. We give thanks to God for this great evening together.”