Religion professor honored with Collins Award

Dr. Jonathan Tran, recipient of the 2017 Collins Outstanding Professor Award, gave a lecture at Kayser Auditorium on Thursday. Photo credit: Dayday Wynn

By Junpeng Zhang | Reporter

Dr. Jonathan Tran was selected as the winner among Baylor senior professors of the 2016-17 academic year for the Collins Outstanding Professor Award. As a recipient, Tran gave a lecture titled “My Life With Students: Wittgensteinian Thoughts on Baylor Students” on Thursday in Kayser Auditorium.

Tran teaches theology and ethics as an associate professor of religion and serves as faculty steward of the Honors Residential College. His publications include “The Vietnam War and Theologies of Memory: Time and Eternity in the Far Country” and Foucault and Theology,” along with numerous articles about Christian theology and ethics, linguistic philosophy and political theory.

The Collins Outstanding Professor Award is provided by the Carr P. Collins Foundation to recognize and honor outstanding teachers at Baylor, according to the Baylor website. Baylor’s current senior class elects the award recipient each school year. The Collins professor receives a cash award of $10,000, recognition in university publications, citation on a plaque and recognition at the spring commencement. The Collins professor also delivers a lecture that will be published and made available to the university community.

Throughout his lecture, Tran talked about his unique interpretation from the quotes he chose to present. One of the quotes was about the relationship between language and world. He said language gives numerous things to the world; however, there are also problems between them. When the way the language works is examined, the pressure of the limit of language is evident.

“The coming of limitation of language limits human beings’ creativity, specifically in two kinds of ways. One, that is the nature of language to progress and advance. The changing of the language like emerging a new language forces our lives to change,” Tran said. “Another problem is that the disappointment we will have is that when we realize we are bound to language, we can simply see it from the first chapter of the Book of Genesis.”

James Bennigohf, vice provost for academic affairs and policy and professor of music theory, said he appreciated the content of Tran’s lecture and was inspired by Tran’s interpretation throughout.

“I thought it was very thought-provoking, and it gives us a lot of things to think about in terms of how we value Baylor and can actually be brought to life as each one of us continues to learn from our faith and journey in our actual life,” Bennigohf said.