Oxford-educated professor Dr. Jim Baird will become the new director of the Honors Program at Oklahoma Christian University.
Baird, a professor of Bible and philosophy at Oklahoma Christian, will succeed Dr. Scott LaMascus, OC’s new vice president for academic affairs. LaMascus has directed the Honors Program since 2009.
Baird graduated from Oklahoma Christian in 1978 with a bachelor’s degree in Bible and English. He received his theology degree from the Harding Graduate School of Religion in 1982 and earned his doctorate in philosophy from Oxford in 1992.
He has taught in OC’s College of Biblical Studies since 1992 and has served as the preaching minister at Wilshire Church of Christ in Oklahoma City since 2000.
In 2001, Baird won OC’s Gaylord Chair of Distinguished Teaching, which recognizes teaching excellence, innovation and effectiveness in working with students in and out of the classroom.
His class with Professor of Physics Dr. Len Feuerhelm, “The Bible, Science and Human Values,” is an integral part of OC’s Honors Program. The course, which explores the relationship between science and religion, won a $10,000 prize from the Templeton Foundation.
Baird and his wife Yodie have two sons, James and Taylor, and a daughter, Elizabeth. His father, James O. Baird, was Oklahoma Christian’s second president, serving from 1954 to 1974.
“Dr. Baird’s training at Oxford, his commitment to Christ and his family, and his intellectual leadership among faculty and students are all ingredients of a vision that will take OC Honors from regional leadership to national prominence,” LaMascus said.
OC’s Honors Program, which currently includes 30 National Merit Scholars, is accepting “waitlist” applications for fall 2013.
The program offers what the National Collegiate Honors Council calls the “most robust” model for Honors programs, with an Honors core curriculum in place of the general education core. Most OC Honors students live on campus in the new Honors House at Davisson Hall.
Honors Program alumni have achieved a 100 percent acceptance rate to graduate schools the past three years. Recent alumni are graduate students at schools such as Florida State University, Stanford University, and the University of Texas at Austin.
“OC’s Honors Program is one of the best in the nation. It is best in class because of high-caliber students receiving personal and expert instruction from top-notch faculty, and because of excellent leadership,” OC president John deSteiguer said. “Dr. Baird is the perfect choice to continue the OC Honors pattern of engaging, visionary leadership - pioneered by Drs. Bailey McBride and Scott LaMascus - that inspires students to be more than they thought possible.”
Oklahoma Christian, which set an enrollment record with 2,271 students this year, is recognized as one of the best universities in the western United States by U.S. News and World Report and The Princeton Review.
The university offers undergraduate programs in more than 60 fields of study and graduate programs in business administration, engineering, ministry, and divinity.
In addition to its Oklahoma City campus, OC has study abroad opportunities in Europe, Honduras and the Pacific Rim. Honors students receive a stipend to participate in the Study Abroad program based out of OC’s new facility in Vienna, Austria.