• Honoring some familiar Baylor faces retiring this spring

    Dr. Alton Hassell, Dr. Janelle Walter, and David Guinn

    Every spring, the Baylor Family bids happy retirement to professors and staff who have dedicated their lives to the university and its students. It’s always a bittersweet mix — sadness in seeing them go, happiness for a well-deserved next step — but this unusual spring amplifies that sadness a little bit. (See a complete list of 2020 retirees.)

    Thus, like so many other things this semester, we offer an online send-off and celebration of some of the longest-serving professors who are moving on this year — men and women whose faces will be missed, but whose impact will not be forgotten:


    David Guinn’s official title is the Lyndon L. Olson and William A. Olson Professor of Local Government and Constitutional Law and Master Teacher, but around Baylor Law School, he’s known as “the Godfather.” Guinn, JD ’63, joined the Baylor Law faculty in 1966 — 54 years ago — just three years after earning his Baylor law degree. His Constitutional Law class has become iconic, and he’s put one element of that into unique practice, becoming sought after by governmental agencies as a “redistricting guru” to ensure equal representation. (He also helped this spring by setting a good example as faculty across the university adapted to remote teaching.)


    His last name lends itself to the joke, and in fact his own department mentioned it when honoring him this spring upon his retirement. “Chemistry will always be a Hassell,” but Baylor students were lucky for nearly four decades to learn it from Dr. Alton Hassell, BS ’69. In addition to teaching generations of students over his 38 years, he’s helped write 20+ textbooks and was even featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2007, telling the story of how he and his wife, longtime Family & Consumer Sciences professor Patricia Hassell, wrote each other love letters every day for decades.


    U.S. News & World Report and Newsweek are just two recent examples of publications that have sought out Dr. Janelle Walter, a professor of family and consumer sciences for 41 years, for her expertise in nutrition, diet, eating behaviors, childhood obesity and more. Last year, she was given her discipline’s highest honor when she was awarded the 2019 Distinguished Service Award by the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences.


    Dr. Bill Thomas, BBA ’69, MBA ’71, has taught accounting and business law in Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business for 44 years. Students learned core classes in accounting and auditing from a man who stayed on top of industry trends, writing a bi-monthly column for Today’s CPA and serving for many years as the publication’s accounting and auditing editor (in addition to writing numerous textbooks and journal articles). Former students have honored his impact through the establishment of the Dr. Bill Thomas Endowed Scholarship Fund to provide need-based support for Baylor accounting students.


    Did you know Baylor has an expert in western swing music? Dr. Jean Boyd, professor of musicology, is retiring this year after 45 years at Baylor. Boyd is an expert on many forms of American music, from jazz to folk to classical and beyond. But, since the mid-1980s, she’s extensively researched the iconic Texas sound of western swing, interviewing countless musicians and others associated with the genre’s growth beyond Texas and Oklahoma to places like Europe, Australia and Canada. She’s written three books on the subject, with a fourth on the way.


    These aren’t the only Baylor professors retiring this semester — just some of the most well-known. Others with more than 30 years of experience at Baylor include Dr. Peter Allen (geosciences, 42 years), Dr. Ray Bagby (entrepreneurship, 32), Dr. Gregory Benesh (physics, 38), Dr. Joseph Brown (political science, 30), Dr. Don Cunningham (finance, insurance and real estate, 36), Dr. Richard Duran (modern language and cultures, 37), Dr. William English (communication studies, 42), Dr. David Hendon (history, 43), Paul McCoy (art, 34), Dr. William McDonald (English, 43), Dr. Patricia Milligan (information systems, 37), Dr. Marian Ortuno (modern languages and cultures, 34), Dr. Stuart Rosenbaum (philosophy, 39), Dr. Mary Ruth Smith (art, 37), Dr. James SoRelle (history, 40), Dr. Kathy Whipple (communication sciences & disorders, 35) and John Wilson (University Libraries, 33).

    Sic ’em, Baylor retirees!

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