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Baylor SOE Alumna Wins 2021 Book Accolades [12/29/2021]


Mary Landon Darden

Photo of Dr. Mary Landon Darden by The Wacoan

Baylor School of Education graduate Dr. Mary Landon Darden, MSEd ’91, EdD ’06, has won a national award for her book Entrepreneuring the Future of Higher Education: Radical Transformation in Times of Profound Change, published earlier in 2021 by the American Council on Education and Rowman & Littlefield. Darden’s book was named by the American Book Fest as “Best Education/Academic Book of 2021.”

American Book Fest is in its 19th year of delivering the “Best Book Awards,” covering numerous categories of books from mainstream and independent publishers.

Entrepreneuring the Future of Higher Education was also honored by Book Authority, which provides book recommendations from thought leaders and experts, rated as #36 on its list of “58 Best University Books of All Time.”

Entrepreneuring the Future book coverEntrepreneuring the Future of Higher Education addresses the financial considerations — even before COVID-19 — that were forcing the closing of increasing numbers of American colleges and universities, especially independent ones. Darden argues that higher education leaders must embrace an entrepreneurial spirit to face the challenges of the 21st century, rather than relying of what she terms the “wobbly two-legged stool that supports virtually every American school — tuition and endowment.” Her goal is to provide institutional leaders with a “nuts and bolts” guide and tools to move on from merely surviving and into thriving.

Darden describes herself as a “higher education futurist.” She received her doctorate in higher education administration from Baylor in 2006 through the Department of Educational Leadership (then the Department of Educational Administration).

Darden spent more than two decades in higher education leadership and research experience, including five years as center dean of the Concordia University Texas campus in San Antonio. Then in 2015, she founded Higher Education Innovation, LLC, an independent company with the mission to research, study, develop, and provide entrepreneurial, innovative, and specialized training for higher education presidents and leaders to help their institutions thrive. She is a regular speaker and keynote speaker on the topics of leadership and the future of higher education at conferences and universities globally.

During her career, Darden has received awards for administrative achievements, including the 2001 National Exemplary Award in Community Education from the National Council of Continuing Education and Training. Darden was named the 2018 Distinguished Alumna of the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. She has long been active in social justice issues and was recognized nationally for her work in mobilizing churches in Central Texas to respond to the humanitarian crisis following Hurricane Katrina.

In endorsing Darden’s book, George Washington University president emeritus Stephen Joel Trachtenberg said that higher education faces challenges on a “biblical” scale — including racial issues, the virus, and the demographic decline ahead. “The formula for averting an oncoming disaster has been captured in this wise volume by a professional leader and experienced scholar of the academic enterprise,” he said.

Dr. Roger Parrott, president of Belhaven University, said that Darden’s book is “overflowing with applicable solutions,” adding, “Her research-driven insights ae refreshing, empowering, and courageous.”

Darden previously published another book on higher education, Beyond 2020: Envisioning the Future of Universities in America, published by the American Council on Education and Rowman & Littlefield in 2009. Her 2006 dissertation at Baylor was on women in higher-education leadership, titled Women Presidents in Four-Year Colleges and Universities: An Analysis of Reported Changeable Attributes Contributing to Their Success.

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Baylor’s School of Education celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2019. With more than 60 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. The school boasts a variety of academic program options across its three departments: Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership, and Educational Psychology. Baylor’s award-winning undergraduate program in teacher education serves approximately 400 students and has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers with extensive clinical preparation.

More than 700 graduate students pursue advanced study and professional preparation in master’s, Ed.S., Ed.D., and Ph.D. programs. With multiple faculty searches underway and exciting new academic initiatives both at home and abroad, the school is in a period of significant expansion and is poised for greater impact through the production of meaningful, high-quality research and the preparation of outstanding leaders, teachers, and clinicians. Visit to learn more.

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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