Baylor Recognized with ICPC Service Award

Baylor University was recently granted the 2017 ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC) Outstanding International Service Award for academic and institutional support for hosting ICPC Headquarters since 1989. In addition, the award is for encouraging the next generation to develop and apply their problem-solving talents to the challenges that face the world today and the world to come. The ICPC Outstanding International Service Award is presented annually to an individual, group, or institution who has played an instrumental role in advancing international educational programs that open doors of opportunity for future opportunity creators and problem solvers.

ACM-ICPC is the premier global programming competition conducted by and for the world’s universities. The competition operates under the auspices of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and is sponsored by IBM. The contest involves a global network of universities hosting regional competitions that advance teams to the ACM-ICPC World Finals. For nearly four decades, ACM-ICPC has grown to be a game-changing global competitive educational program that has raised aspirations and performance of generations of the world’s problem solvers in the computing sciences and engineering. In 2016, ACM-ICPC participation included 46,381 of the finest students and faculty in computing disciplines from 2,948 universities in 103 countries on six continents. The contest fosters creativity, teamwork, and innovation in building new software programs, and it enables students to test their ability to perform under pressure. ACM-ICPC is the oldest, largest, and most prestigious programming contest in the world.

Baylor will be presented with the ICPC Outstanding International Service Award during the 2017 ACM-ICPC World Finals Opening Ceremony on May 22 in Rapid City, South Dakota.

A Love Letter from Coho Menk’s Family

A Love Letter from Coho Menk’s Family

Dear Baylor Family and Waco Community,

In August 2012, Coho Menk stepped into the unknown – the State of Texas, the town of Waco, and the adventures waiting at Baylor University. It was a memorable first day at Baylor with the anticipation of starting college, the move to Penland Hall, the raging heat of the day, and greeting new friends. Everything about this new experience was going to be quite a change for this Minnesota ice and snow lover.

Coho thrived at Baylor, spiritually and socially. He excelled as a student and was a loving brother of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and a member of the Baylor Men’s Soccer Club. He became a youth minister at a local church, participated in Sing, and experienced the study abroad program with Baylor Business in Europe. Coho spent holidays with friends in and around Texas, all of whom welcomed him. 

Coho graduated with a degree in neuroscience on May 13, 2016, a most joyful day. Graduation weekend was filled with the chaos of moving out of his house, graduation parties, and final visits to local hot spots including Shorty’s, George’s, the Hilton, and Torchy’s. During the move, Coho gave away many of his possessions and said his goodbyes to all in his Baylor Family.

Coho returned to Minnesota on May 16, 2016. He had been awarded a scholarship to study abroad by the State Department and planned on possibly pursuing an internship in Central America, then returning to Dallas to live and work. Coho was relieved to have graduated and was ready to welcome the future. Coho polished up his résumé and reconnected with his wide reaching network of friends in the Twin Cities over his first few days at home.

On May 19, 2016, Coho died as a result of complications related to an epileptic seizure. Coho was home in Minnesota, happy, full of anticipation, and overflowing with faith. He had said his goodbyes to staff and friends and to his beloved Baylor and Waco. A chapter was finished; the best ending had arrived. By his side was C.S. Lewis’ Book, Mere Christianity.

Through our despair, we are able to find joy and peace in the loss of Coho who lives on with us and in Heaven. Coho was a Child of God who had an infectious smile and laugh and who cared passionately for others. Coho’s final act of giving on earth was his gift as a donor, helping 60 families. Coho lives.  

We are profoundly grateful for everything the Baylor staff, administration, students, and alumni have done for our family. Thank you for the lovely memorial service on campus and for the honor of placing Coho’s name on the memorial fountain. Thank you all for your thoughts, prayers, and especially for the impact so many of you made on Coho’s life. We also graciously thank the Baylor Family for the continued support, kindness, and empathy extended to Coho’s sister, Britta, a Baylor junior majoring in communications.

Finally, we deeply appreciate Coho’s brothers at the ATO fraternity who recently honored Coho. The proceeds from the ATO annual Bed Races Fundraiser benefit CoHOPE, the nonprofit started in memory of Coho, spreading Coho’s spirit and legacy of hope, joy, faith, giving, and service.

To all who knew Coho, to all who supported, sponsored, and participated in the ATO Bed Races, and to our beloved Baylor Family, we extend our deepest, heartfelt gratitude. Baylor is our home and will forever live in our hearts. 

The Family of Colton Hovey (Coho) Menk:

Beth, Roger, Spencer, Britta

Coho Menk (Baylor ’16)

The Power of the Empty Tomb

Dear Baylor Community,

            We will experience the most profound source of “hope abounding” over the next few days. In the midst of betrayal, brokenness, and other patterns of sin evident in Maundy Thursday, Jesus Christ bears our sin and the wounds of the world on the cross on Good Friday. On Holy Saturday, we watch and wait. And then on Easter we discover that God answers our, and the world’s, No with a decisive Yes by raising Jesus from the dead (2 Cor. 1:19-20).

            As a result, every day is now Easter. It is a sign of the hope we have, not because of who we are but because of who God is. The past is redeemed, and we are called to live into the future in confidence and trust in God…and especially in hope.

            I pray that we all will journey with Christ through Gethsemane and Golgotha to discover, on Easter morning, the power of the empty tomb. May these days be ones of healing, and of hope abounding, for you, your family, for all of us, for the world, and for Baylor.



Supporting People Who Stutter Through Research and Fellowship

Dr. Paul Blanchet, Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, is currently examining listeners’ perceptions of people with communication disorders, particularly stuttering and/or cluttering. As a person who stutters (PWS), Dr. Blanchet decided to initiate this line of research in 2005. It has grown into a multi-study, transdisciplinary endeavor encompassing students, alumni, and faculty from various fields (e.g., psychology, sociology).

Dr. Paul Blanchet with his research team

Findings of this study will add further support for clinical use of self-disclosure, which is also referred to as “acknowledgment” or “advertising” in some stuttering treatment programs. Although this strategy has been utilized to great effect by many PWS for decades, there is a need for further empirical research demonstrating the benefits of disclosure. Clinically, self-disclosure is a simple yet extraordinarily powerful strategy that encourages openness and honesty, and facilitates positive communicative interactions among PWS and their listeners. Some clients view it as giving them permission to stutter, and it is often useful when working on becoming desensitized to stuttering. It is one of many such coping strategies discussed in the Baylor University Speech-Language Clinic Stuttering Support Group, which Dr. Blanchet co-founded in 2015 with Baylor’s CSD Clinic Coordinator, Mrs. Deborah Rainer.

At the 2014 Oxford Dysfluency Conference, many professionals were encouraging of Dr. Blanchet’s research, including staff from the prestigious Michael Palin Center in London, UK. Dr. Blanchet has since conducted several follow-up studies including one that examines the effects of self-disclosure (or acknowledgment) of stuttering on university students’ perceptions of a person who stutters. A URC grant enabled him to hire six undergraduate research assistants to assist with data collection and data entry. More information about Dr. Blanchet’s research is available in the RCHHS Newsletter.

Ladies and Legos Encourages Women in STEM Fields

The “Ladies and Legos” program is a fun and casual way to bring together women at different stages of their academic and professional careers to talk about their experiences in the classroom and workplace. Many women in STEM fields do not have an arena to discuss the unique challenges women face in male-dominated industries. Thanks to the sponsorship of the Halliburton Foundation, Ladies and Legos offers opportunities to create dialogue, encourage gender diversity in the workforce, and empower women to succeed.

Ladies and Legos events typically involve small-group settings in which students create with Legos, an engineering-related toy primarily marketed toward males, while female leaders in STEM occupations lead discussions about their experiences in the workforce. On March 22, the School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) partnered with Maker’s Edge in Waco to create a new Ladies and Legos event centered around building community and connections through hands-on “making” experiences including screen printing, soldering, vinyl cutting, and laser etching.

Women comprise about 23 percent of the nearly 1,200 undergraduates in the School of Engineering and Computer Science. The hope is that programs like “Ladies and Legos” will stimulate community among ECS students, faculty, and women already in the STEM fields and attract more prospective students, ultimately increasing the number of women in technological industries. The final Ladies and Legos event this school year will be April 18th, featuring Dr. Michelle Hebl, our Cherry Award recipient and Professor of Psychology from Rice University. Contact Emily Sandvall, Associate Director for Undergraduate Programs in ECS, for more information.

Baylor Law School Recognized for Strong Professional Development

The innovative Continuing Legal Education (CLE) program at Baylor University School of Law follows a nationwide trend of law schools focusing on developing students’ professional identities as lawyers. Baylor Law’s program has surpassed those at other Texas law schools and drawn national accolades. It broke new ground by offering students frequent professional development seminars—which closely resemble continuing legal education—presented by practicing lawyers on a wide variety of topics. Although students can pick and choose seminars to attend, it’s a mandatory requirement for graduation to log 18 hours spread out among the three years of law school.

Professional development seminars cover topics like law office management and organization; job searching and networking; the values of a lawyer and leadership; the ethical considerations of lawyering; and wellness, including the mental and physical health hazards of the profession. Administrators aim to offer 10 to 12 seminars each quarter, which breaks down to about one per week. After a seminar, students complete a feedback card and the school uses the data to plan future seminars. Jim Wren, a Baylor Law professor and chairman of its professional development committee, reported: “Depending on the program, we get all the way from rave reviews back to lukewarm or sometimes a critical review of a program. We listen to those and take them to heart. The more practical the program, usually the higher the rating for it.”

Baylor Law is not the only Texas law school interested in developing students professionally. But its program is unique because of its CLE-style model, its mandatory nature, and the fact that it spans all three years of law school. Baylor Law aims to produce professionals who are truly “practice ready” and prepared to succeed, and this program substantially furthers that goal.

Truett Sports Ministry and the Legacy of Eric Liddell

In late February, Baylor’s Truett Seminary hosted advanced screenings of the film “On Wings of Eagles,” starring Joseph Fiennes and Shawn Dou; directed by Stephen Shin; co-directed by Michael Parker; and produced by Jim Green and Mark Bacino. Based on the life of Olympic runner and missionary Eric Liddell and continuing the story of the Academy Award-winning film “Chariots of Fire,” the film focuses on Liddell during his time as a missionary in China and when he was being held in a Japanese labor camp. These special events were hosted by Dr. John and Mrs. Cindy White and the Truett Sports Ministry Program. John and Cindy enjoy a special relationship with the Liddell family and are now in the planning stages of launching the Eric Liddell Institute to be housed at Truett.

Scene from “On Wings of Eagles”
Scene from “On Wings of Eagles”

Baylor Football Teams Up with the Texas Hunger Initiative

The Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) at Baylor University works with school districts, like La Vega ISD, and communities across the state to improve participation in school breakfast through innovative alternative service models, like “Breakfast in the Classroom” and “Grab and Go.” Yesterday, March 14, representatives from the Baylor football program, including players Grayland Arnold (#4), Jamie Jacobs (#43), and Jonathan Hockman (#24), as well as Ryan Kelly, an administrator in the football program, joined students at La Vega Elementary to promote the importance of school breakfast and to encourage students to participate. Dave Thiel, Director of Child Nutrition for La Vega ISD described the important work of THI and the Baylor football program: “It is exciting for a first, second, or third grader to see some local sports figures – successful students that are proven athletes and who have proven that they’re doing great academically. They’re great role models in the community. We always appreciate it when Baylor supports us and comes out, and the Texas Hunger Initiative has been a really good supporter of our program here at La Vega, in many different ways.”

In a state where more than 1 in 4 children are food insecure, the public school system continues to grow as a primary infrastructure for addressing childhood hunger. Participation in school breakfast has been associated with decreased tardiness and absences and better school performance, attention, and behavior. More Texas students than ever are starting their school days fueled for success, especially students who might not have regular access to food at home. As a current student-athlete who benefited from school breakfast as a child, Jonathan Hockman reflected about his experience volunteering: “It’s important to keep perspective, because football, at the end of the day, is just a game. It’s really about who you reach through football. These kids look up to us, and it’s important that we can maintain that outreach and perspective of giving back to the community and back to others, and I’m happy and blessed to be able to do this.”

THI’s innovative model addresses food insecurity at all levels – local, state, and federal – by organizing systems and helping people work together to create more efficient and effective programs and policies that reduce hunger in Texas. Thanks to the efforts of numerous partners, including the Baylor football program, every day we get closer to our goal of ending hunger and setting up children for the wellness and success every child deserves.

Baylor Libraries Preserve Black Gospel Music

Since 2007, Darryl Stuhr, associate director for digital projects in the Baylor Libraries, and his team of specialists have worked with Professor Bob Darden on the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project. This initiative, which began with an op-ed in the New York Times by Darden in 2005, now boasts over 5,000 black gospel music recordings digitized with thousands of songs available to the public online.

The Baylor Libraries’ digital preservation efforts caught the eye of Dr. Dwandalyn Reece, curator of music and performing arts for the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. When its doors opened last year, digital tracks from the Baylor Libraries’ collection were featured in a standing exhibit. As thousands pour through the doors each day, they experience the rich, cultural heritage of the black gospel tradition and directly engage with Darden’s passion and the work of the Baylor digital projects 1,500 miles away.

Sound engineer Stephen Bolech works to preserve a vital part of America’s cultural heritage.

Based on this success, Darden and the Baylor Libraries recently partnered with KWBU 103.3 FM, our local NPR affiliate, to record a series of brief historical vignettes that highlight different dimensions of the black gospel music tradition. These two-minute segments not only air locally on KWBU 103.3 FM, but have also been picked up by NPR stations across the nation. Darden continues to mine the Baylor Libraries’ digital collection for music and, more importantly, the stories behind the music, to share with the NPR audience. “It is inspiring to see how Professor Darden’s passion for the black gospel music tradition has resulted not only in the preservation of this vital dimension of our culture, but also an outpouring of engagement with these treasures,” said Pattie Orr, Vice President for Information Technology and Dean of University Libraries. “The Libraries, through our Riley Digitization Center, are proud to be a partner with Darden in this important work.”

Knowing the details of our history is essential to understanding contemporary society. The gospel music tradition holds the keys to everything from contemporary rock, R&B, hip-hop, soul, and other contemporary musical forms. Darden and the Baylor Libraries bring this to light with each track digitized and every episode of SHOUT! Black Gospel Music Moments that airs.

Nursing School Helping Babies Breathe

Globally, close to a million babies die within the first week of life from simple and preventable breathing issues, known as birth asphyxia. Many infants would respond to resuscitative measures if this lack of oxygen during late-term labor were recognized. To ameliorate this problem, the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization have collaborated to develop Helping Babies Breathe, a program to prepare nurses, midwives, and skilled birth attendants with simple yet lifesaving skills.

Teaching “Helping Babies Breathe” in Rural India

With the help of a BU Missions research grant, the support of Dean Shelley Conroy, and the leadership of Dr. Lori Spies and Dr. Cheryl Riley, nurses from Baylor University’s School of Nursing have and are continuing to initiate sustainable culturally congruent initiatives by working with global agencies and existing well-established regional partners in Ethiopia, India, Vietnam, and Zambia. LHSON nurses provide Helping Babies Breathe workshops and equip partners with the necessary tools to help babies breathe. Conducting Helping Babies Breathe workshops to APNs, nurses, midwives, and traditional birth attendants can increase workforce capacity and provide training for basic newborn care in vulnerable populations. Incorporating the Helping Babies Breathe program into existing research, clinical courses, and service learning global endeavors led by Advanced Practice Nurses can significantly contribute to decreased infant mortality.

Teaching “Helping Babies Breathe” in Rural Ethiopia

An inspiring example from LHSON serves as a testament to the immense benefits of Helping Babies Breathe: after teaching in Langano, Ethiopia, an LHSON team traveled to remote Makki to teach Helping Babies Breathe. While the LHSON team was gone, a woman who was pregnant with twins and had placenta previa went into labor early at the Langano clinic. The first twin was born, and the woman was bleeding profusely. Nurses at the Langano clinic loaded her into the clinic van/ambulance and headed to the nearest hospital. The first hospital turned them away, so they headed to the second hospital, which meant 2-3 hours of driving. Meanwhile, the second twin was born blue and floppy. While a nurse worked to save the mother’s life, the clinic assistant/translator, who had attended LHSON’s Helping Babies Breathe course, was handed the second baby and immediately knew what to do. After performing the actions he had learned during training, the baby cried; the mother and her two children survived. Our Ethiopian colleagues attributed this baby’s survival to the LHSON team having taught the Helping Babies Breathe course.