A tribute to Ray Cannon on his retirement

Dr. Raymond J. Cannon Jr., professor of mathematics, is retiring this spring after more than three decades at Baylor. He joined the Baylor faculty in 1978, having earned his A.B. degree from College of the Holy Cross and a Ph.D. from Tulane University.

Dr. Cannon was honored at a mathematics department event recently, where math chair Dr. Lance Littlejohn gave the following tribute.


At the end of this spring 2013 semester, Ray Cannon will be retiring after 34 years of exemplary teaching, service and scholarship to Baylor University, as well as professional contributions to his discipline. We’re all going to miss Ray — not just his colleagues in the mathematics department but his colleagues and friends all across campus.

As chair of the department, I hear all the good things and bad things from students about their math teachers. Never once have I ever heard a negative comment on Ray Cannon’s teaching. This is very unusual because Ray can sometimes be blunt with his students, but he does so in a “fatherly” sort of way that students appreciate his honesty and positively respond to his challenge. He has always had an open door policy with his students and no matter the time of day, if Ray is not in class, he will likely have students in his office seeking additional help.

One of the funniest written comments sent my way was from a student who said this of Ray about what qualities he liked about Dr. Cannon: “His sense of humor and friendliness — he actually seems human.” Now, we all know that can’t be said about too many mathematicians! He touched so many students’ lives in his teaching. When I communicate with our math alumni, they always have nice things to say about Ray Cannon.

The name “Ray Cannon” is known in all math circles in the United States. He has been active on the College Board for years for his workshops to teachers for AP calculus. If I am at a mathematics meeting and someone sees that I am at Baylor University, invariably that person will say, “Please say hi to Ray Cannon for me.”

Ray is well known across campus — indeed, he has been active in developing the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core program and he served on the Faculty Senate for years, twice being the Faculty Senate Chair. At his retirement reception a few weeks ago, several Baylor colleagues remarked to me that Ray was a rock of support during some turbulent times at Baylor. That typifies Ray Cannon — he’s always been willing to fight for his colleagues no matter who is the opponent.

For me personally, Ray is a good friend first and a wonderful colleague second. And I am glad that is the order. It just makes it much easier for me to accept his cry, “Lance, that’s the dumbest idea that I have ever heard.” And my good friend Ray Cannon has said that to me several times!

We are going to miss both Ray and his wife Jo terribly. I never wanted to see Ray retire — he’s been my MVC (Most Valuable Colleague). But all of us are happy for both of them, and we know that we will continue to see Ray in the department.

And Ray, if you ever get to the point that you miss the grading of exams, or miss another exciting meeting — know that we will welcome you back with open arms!

Dr. Lance Littlejohn

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