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Scholarship Drive in the Works for Dr. Doug Ferdon, Former JPR&NM Chair December 11, 2020

Posted by Mia Moody-Ramirez in : Uncategorized , trackback

Back in December of 1997, former Baylor College of Arts & Sciences Dean Wallace L. Daniel Jr. had big dreams for Baylor Journalism, and Dr. Doug Ferdon was his man for the mission.

That’s when, after a year-long national search and eight years as a Baylor teacher, Ferdon received a three-year appointment as chair of what is now the Journalism, PR & New Media department.

“I know it was 1982,” said Senior Lecturer Cassy Burleson, “because former chair Loyal Gould asked me if I knew anyone good for the job. Of course, I knew it might be hard to recruit Doug from the golf courses in Panama City, Florida, at the community college where he was teaching, but … he was …

”Absolutely perfect … for Baylor.”

It turned out to be a good match for more than 30 years for the Wisconsin native.

Today, a scholarship drive for $50,000 is in the works for Ferdon, a man of many putts.

“Doug’s a man of few words, unless you get him going on history (pick any subject), his grandfather, facts, suggestions for politicians, mysteries – or his favorite subject, golf. Doug also has the best sense of diplomacy of anyone I know – and that’s important,” Burleson said.

When he joined Baylor in 1982, Ferdon was Lariat adviser for five years while teaching one course. Then he became a full-time faculty member, teaching Law & Ethics and History of Journalism.

In 1995, the department was down to 108 majors. In 1997, Wallace was quoted in a Baylor news release as saying he believed the department “had the potential to achieve national prominence, and under Dr. Ferdon’s leadership, it should reach this goal.”

Ferdon knew it would take a village.

He continued to support existing faculty while recruiting and hiring more people who could build that “nationally prominent” scholastic village. He also added public relations to the curriculum at just the right time and partnered with Baylor’s business school to have the department teach a Writing for Media Markets course for business and other majors, including Film & Digital Media.

Ferdon had increased the faculty from six to 14 when he retired in 2014. Ferdon was on the hiring team for Drs. Clark Baker, Marlene Neil, JPR&NM Chair Mia Moody-Ramirez and Burleson, as well as Robert “Bob” Darden, Maxey Parrish, Sharon Gripp, Kevin Tankersley, and former faculty member, Dr. Amanda Sturgill, now a tenured associate professor at Elon University in North Carolina.

Along the way, Ferdon negotiated some coups to get the majors up from 108 in 1995 to 400 by 2014.

For one, Ferdon convinced Darden, now a full professor, Baylor’s Professor of the Year in 2020, and creator of the Black Gospel Music project now housed at the Smithsonian, to move from the English department to Journalism. Darden attributes much of his career success to Ferdon and said, “I had found him to be a man of high ethical character and a crackerjack administrator, and I knew it would be a wonderful experience.”

Ferdon served as chair until 2005 while also teaching Law & Ethics and Journalism History.

“Doug was one of my inspirations for teaching,” said current Chair Moody-Ramirez. “He asked me to teach my first course, and I was hooked. He provided the support I needed to succeed. He is a gem.”

Since his retirement in 2014, Ferdon has continued as an adjunct instructor, although he said when he retired that he was going to “just read books and play golf.” He didn’t.

Ferdon and Sylvia, also from Wisconsin, will celebrate their 50th anniversary in August. They share a love for golf as well as each other. Sylvia toured on the LPGA circuit, is former head coach of Baylor’s Women’s Golf, and won the Big 12 national title of coach of the year – twice – after beating cancer. The couple now divides time between Waco and their cottage home in Baileys Harbor in Door County, Wisconsin.

Although they have no biological children, they’ve raised a herd of students and golfers over the years.

Still a source of wise counsel in the department, Ferdon said, “When I began college in the 1960s, enrollment was doubling across the U.S. Baby Boomers, including women and minorities, were finding a college education part of their dreams. Teaching for 46 years – full time and part-time – I saw the costs rise. If a scholarship in my name can help just a little, it would give me great pleasure,” Ferdon said.

He’s that kind of guy. Patiently building the village all these years, fostering harmony along the way.

Probably because he knows how to sink the long putt.

To contribute to the Doug Ferdon Endowed Scholarship fund, please click the link below and contribute to the Journalism Excellence Fund and designate the Doug Ferdon Endowed Scholarship as the recipient of your pledge.




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