A Golden Anniversary: Three Bears honored for 50 years of service
As Baylor students are educated for worldwide leadership and service, they’re blessed to learn from outstanding faculty and staff who model those qualities on campus. Last month, dozens of those servant-leaders were honored at Baylor’s annual Service Awards luncheon — including three Bears who have each dedicated a half-century of their lives to the students and mission of Baylor University.
Darlene Kyser remembers well her first day of employment at Baylor, back in 1967. She went home and told her husband that she didn’t think the new job was going to work out. “Why don’t you give it a couple days?” he responded.
“A couple days” turned into a couple quarter-centuries in Baylor’s School of Education (SOE). In 1974, she was promoted to assistant to the dean, and her SOE tenure eventually spanned seven SOE deans. Kyser retired last October, and while she witnessed a lot of change in 50 years on campus, she says one thing hasn’t changed: “Although each generation is a little different, (Baylor students) are still the top-quality students that they have always been.”
Dr. Janya Martin, BA ’63, graduated from Baylor with honors as a double major in chemistry and German. She had career options in any number of fields, but after her time as a Fulbright scholar studying in Germany, she returned to her alma mater to teach. A half-century after she began teaching at Baylor, her love of teaching keeps her working with Baylor German students as an associate professor.
Away from the classroom, her varied interests include music. A longtime organist at Waco’s Lakeshore Baptist Church, Martin’s love of music was passed down to her family. Her five children each went on to study music at Baylor, and the Waco Symphony Orchestra was long said to seemingly always have a Martin playing — so much so that Dr. Martin was known as the “orchestra mom.”
Dr. David Pennington, professor emeritus in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, retired last May after a 50-year career that earned him the title of “Master Teacher” — the highest honor conferred by Baylor on faculty members.
Pennington was beloved by the students he served. He’s long been a regular at Welcome Week, helping freshman students move into their residence halls. And when the university posted about his retirement on Facebook and Instagram, the outpouring from former students was best summed up by two Baylor alums. One shared a tale of missing a test after his wife’s miscarriage; Pennington prayed with him and allowed him to make up the test. Another said simply, “Thank you to Dr. Pennington… If it wasn’t for you taking a risk on me, I would never have become the surgeon I am today.”
Sic ’em, Golden Anniversary faculty and staff!