Remembering Baylor history professor James Vardaman following his passing
It is one of my greater regrets about my time at Baylor that I did not have the pleasure of taking a class taught by legendary Baylor professor James Vardaman, BA ’51.
Dr. Vardaman passed away Jan. 31 at the age of 89. One could review his life in biographical fashion: A U.S. Marine who enrolled at Baylor literally within hours of finishing his military career. A beloved Baylor professor for more than three decades. Named a Master Teacher, Baylor’s highest faculty honor, for teaching excellence. The list goes on and on.
But I think Dr. Vardaman’s life is better summed up in the words of those who knew him best; below are just a few examples:
“The contributions Jim Vardaman made over the years to the life of Baylor University were so many and diverse that if you had not witnessed it first hand, it would be hard to believe… We have, indeed, lost a giant in the life of Baylor.” — Dr. Robert Baird, BA ’59, MA ’61, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Master Teacher
“Jim Vardaman is the very image of Baylor — totally committed to students, to teaching and to scholarship, firm in his belief that teaching is the noblest of professions and convinced that one must strive to be the best one can be, all the time, every day.” — Dr. Wallace Daniel, former Baylor history professor and Distinguished University Professor of History, Mercer University
“This great teacher loved God, [his wife] Betsy, his country and Baylor University, his sister Ann Miller and his many friends. If you are fortunate enough to be one of the latter group, you will understand why we will miss him so much.” — Babs Baugh, longtime Baylor supporter and friend of the Vardamans
“Jim was loved by his students. I have attended two dinners honoring him. Students flew in from all over the world, literally, to honor him. On numerous occasions when my wife Ann and I have joined Betsy and Jim at local restaurants, former students of all ages would come up to speak to him. Amazingly, he always remembered them by name. It was obvious they loved him.” — Cullen Smith, BBA ’48, JD ’50, retired Waco attorney and longtime friend of the Vardamans
You can read more in Baylor’s press release recognizing Dr. Vardaman’s passing. And if you want to learn even more about this Baylor legend, I highly recommend this 2015 feature from Baylor Arts & Sciences Magazine.
Sic ’em, Dr. Vardaman, for your lifetime of service to Baylor and her students!
You might also like:
* Remembering Dr. Pennington & Dr. Hanks as they retire (July 2017)
* Professors as mentors — a Baylor tradition since 1845 (Oct. 2014)
* Alumni remember Robert Reid (April 2010)