Distinguished professor of neuroscience, psychology and biomedical studies and the graduate program director of the department, Dr. Jim H. Patton died Wednesday night in his home. Dr. Patton joined the Baylor faculty in 1980 and greatly influenced both his students and colleagues in his time at Baylor.
Houston sophomore Meredith Cagley was in Patton’s Introduction to Neuroscience class last spring and considers it an honor to have had him as a professor.
“Dr. Patton was a great professor because you could tell he was very intelligent and passionate on the topic, but at the same time he would always make it very relatable to the students,” Cagley said. “He is highly regarded at Baylor, so it means a lot to have had the opportunity to learn from him while he was here.”
Patton graduated from Idaho State University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and he got his Ph.D. from Baylor in 1978. Before joining the Baylor faculty, Patton was a NIMH-NINCDS postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science and the Department of Human Biological Chemistry and Genetics at the UT Medical Branch in Galveston, according to the Baylor website.
Dr. Bradley Keele, associate professor of psychology, neuroscience and biomedical studies, worked with Patton for nearly 20 years and was a student of Patton’s prior to that.
“I owe much of who I am today to the teaching and guidance of Jim Patton, one of the most important figures of my academic life,” Dr. Keele said in the BaylorNewsFlash. “Jim challenged me as an undergraduate to seek excellence and his passion for knowledge infected me. Since I joined the Baylor faculty, Jim was my beacon of encouragement and inspiration. I will miss my friend greatly.”
Patton’s primary focus in his field was on the neurological basis of mental disorders, and he was particularly intrigued in deciphering the nature of and basis for impulsive behavior and sensation seeking, the Baylor website says. As a neuroscience professor, Patton was great at explaining complex topics to students in a way they could grasp easily, and he always pushed his students to do their best, according to Cagley.
“Dr. Patton always really urged the students to try their hardest. He would always talk about how hard he worked in school and how much effort it takes to succeed — he held us to high standards and urged us to meet them,” Cagley said.
Houston sophomore Kailey Shanks was also in Patton’s Introduction to Neuroscience class last spring, and she recalled a memorable moment with Dr. Patton after her first test.
“Dr. Patton was an extremely knowledgeable man who had an obvious passion for his subject. I specifically remember him giving me a fist bump after getting a good grade on his test,” Shanks said. “Gestures like these show the care professors like him have for his students. He truly wanted his students to succeed.”
Aside from teaching, Patton had a passion for the outdoors — he especially loved fly fishing and bird watching. Some other outdoor activities he frequently participated in were mountaineering, rock climbing, trekking, canoeing and hunting. Another way Patton influenced his community was as a Boy Scout leader. Patton served as the Boy Scouts of America Longhorn Council president and was the chairman of their volunteer board for many years.
The date and time of his funeral service has yet to be announced.