Get to know Robert Darden, Baylor Master Teacher
Earning the designation as a Master Teacher is a rare honor — one of the highest a Baylor professor can receive. Last month, President Linda Livingstone announced that three Baylor professors have earned the title, increasing the roll of Master Teachers who had earned this designation to 29 since the honor was first bestowed almost 40 years ago.
One of the three is longtime Baylor English and journalism professor Robert Darden, BSED ’76, a BU institution since 1988 who has earned national attention in recent years as founder of Baylor’s Black Gospel Music Restoration Project.
“I’m hard pressed to explain what this means to me,” says Darden of the honor. “People before me on the Master Teachers list were my heroes — teachers I personally and professionally admired, people I strive to model after every single day. I’m so honored to be in their company.”
Darden earned his bachelor of science in education from Baylor in 1976 and a master’s in journalism from the University of North Texas in 1978. He returned to Baylor as a faculty member in 1988 and has received countless university honors for his teaching and research, including the Centennial Professor Award (2008) and the Cornelia Marschall Smith Award (2011).
“There is the sheer joy of coming into the classroom, whether I have 285 students or 15, and being, on such an intimate level, a part of their adrenaline-filled lives,” says Darden. “The classroom just crackles with energy for me; I feel like I’m bounding through the door each and every time. And as students leave here and go off and accomplish astonishing things, things I never would dream of doing, I feel like the proud grandfather every time one of them takes the time to let me know of their accomplishments.”
Outside the classroom, Darden is a distinguished author (with more than two dozen books to his name), a dedicated researcher, and a widely recognized expert on a variety of topics, cited by numerous publications.
Beyond the classroom, Darden is likely best known as the founder of Baylor’s Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, a collection dedicated to preserving the historic sounds of classic black gospel music. More than 2,000 rare pieces have been loaned or donated to the project, and Baylor Libraries has helped digitize over 14,000 items. Contents from this collection are on permanent exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C.
Sic ’em, Professor Darden!