• Baylor psychology prof honored for his skill teaching underwater, too

    Dr. Hugh Riley and friends scuba diving

    Dr. Hugh Riley, MA ’01, PhD ’04, has an impressive resume. After earning his bachelor’s in philosophy from UT in 1977, he spent two decades in the Air Force, retiring as a major. He then went back to school, earning his master’s and doctorate in neuroscience from Baylor, and he has taught psychology and neuroscience at Baylor for more than 15 years.

    But those subjects aren’t Riley’s only passions; he also gives freely of his time to teach scuba diving right here in Waco. (Yes, you read that right — scuba diving!) Last fall, Riley was honored by the National Association of Underwater Instructors with the Dr. Charlie Brown Memorial Award for his volunteer service to the diving community — just the seventh person to be so honored in the NAUI’s nearly six decades in existence, and the first to be honored solely for his teaching.

    When not teaching at Baylor or serving in his role as BU’s undergraduate program director for psychology and neuroscience, Riley can likely be found at the Waco Family YMCA teaching his SCUBA Certification Program — for free. He gives his time so freely because he knows that many of the people he’s trained simply could not have afforded to learn to dive without some help. Riley has seen that diving gives families an opportunity to grow closer, develop precious memories, and have unmatched experiences. “I am not paid to teach scuba diving,” he says, “but I am certainly very well-compensated.”

    Over more than 40 years, Riley has helped more than 13,000 students become certified divers, motivated not only by how scuba diving impacts families, but also by how spiritual the diving experience can be.

    “Being able to dive is the closest thing to going to a different planet that any of us will ever experience,” he says. “It also distinguishes us from all other animals, because while diving, we venture into an environment that we are not biologically adapted to. Further, it is an opportunity to witness and be awed by God’s great creation.”

    Sic ’em, Dr. Riley!

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