Ten members of the Baylor School community will be honored with special awards during the school’s reunion weekend celebration Sept. 21-23.
The recipient of this year’s Distinguished Service Award is Buddy Fisher, a graduate of the class of 1946; and the 2012 Distinguished Alumni Award is Bob Bullard, class of 1981.
In 1965 Mr. Fisher was a recipient of the Baylor Distinguished Alumni Award in honor of his service to his community and church. At the 2006 Headmaster’s Awards ceremony he was recognized as a Baylor Sports Hall of Fame inductee primarily for football and basketball, but also for earning six varsity letters in golf, tennis, and track. This year he is being recognized and honored with the Baylor Distinguished Service Award, which recognizes those who have served Baylor in an exemplary fashion. Mr. Fisher’s love for Baylor is evident in the myriad ways in which he has served and participated, including leadership and emeritus membership on the Alumni Board of Directors. A consistent giver to the Annual Fund, he most recently served as the 2011-12 Annual Fund chair for the Class of 1946, which led all classes in giving participation with a record 91.7 percent. He is present at numerous athletic events both on and off campus and at alumni activities, often as a host. He has provided for Baylor in his estate plan, is active in the Heritage Society, and is a member of the Baylor Backers. He recently established the Fisher Scholarship to help students have the opportunity to attend Baylor.
Mr. Bullard is president and CEO of The Vincit Group, which has 3000 employees and provides complete solutions to food safety, sanitation, and water and energy management. The internationally recognized, Chattanooga-based company also offers clients expertise in food science, chemistry, operations, and engineering. Business TN magazine ranked The Vincit Group 26th in its list of The Top 200 Largest Privately Held Businesses in Tennessee. In April 2010 Mr. Bullard was inducted into the UTC College of Business’ Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame. He has served multiple terms of service on the Alumni Board of Directors and on the Baylor Board of Trustees. He has also served on the Headmaster Search Committee, opened his home for alumni events, supported the school with generous contributions, and participated in various fundraising campaigns.
This year’s recipients of the Distinguished Faculty Award are Larry Roberts, class of 1965; David Harris, class of 1966; and Schaack Van Deusen, class of 1961. Harris retired last spring after 41 years on the Baylor faculty. During his tenure he served as social studies department chair, soccer and chess team coach, and yearbook adviser. Roberts taught math and science and coached football and wrestling from 1969 - 1973, returned to run the new outdoor “Walkabout” program in 1975 before leaving to earn a law degree. He returned again in 1985 to work with Walkabout and taught science until his retirement in 2011. Van Deusen retired in 2012 after teaching at Baylor for 35 years. During his tenure he taught drama, served as chair of the fine arts department, and was an assistant wrestling coach, playing a significant role on teams that won 20 state championships.
The new inductees into the Baylor Sports Hall of Fame are Doug Dyer, class of 1978; Jamey Gifford, class of 1997; Bill McMahan, class of 1967; and Stewart Smith, class of 2001.
Mr. Dyer was named to the All-City and All-State football teams in 1978, the same year he also won the district and region wrestling championships. He then took the state heavyweight championship, setting a senior record of 32 wins and zero losses. He placed fourth for his age group nationally, securing All-American honors and a four-year athletic scholarship to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. In his Baylor career, Mr. Dyer won the Chip Healy Best Offensive Lineman Award, the TSSAA Regional Best Wrestler Award, the Luke Worsham Leadership Award, the Special Faculty Commendation Award, and the Ted Nelson Best Athlete Award.
Mr. Gifford was a nationally ranked runner and a state champion for Baylor’s track and cross country teams. He set school records in the 800 meter (1:54), 1600 meter (4:12), and 3200 (9:04), which weren’t broken until the years between 2005 and 2010. At the end of his senior year, he held the ninth fastest time nationally in both the 1600 and 3200 runs. He was the first ever prep school runner from Tennessee to compete in the Millrose Games, the most prestigious one-mile race for high school runners, where he finished third with a personal best of 4:16.75 to finish third.
As a student Mr. McMahan played varsity football, basketball, and baseball and captained two teams. Returning to Baylor in 1974, his career has included lower school school basketball, wrestling, and track, ninth grade football, and varsity football for 31 years. In 1991, he became head boys’ and girls’ track coach. He has named Chattanooga Area Track Coach of the Year 14 times and was named Tennessee State Coach of the Year for 2009-10. In his 21 years as head track coach, the girls’ teams have won the regional championship 15 times and were state champions in 1997-1999, and 2008-2011. His boys’ team won the state championship title in 2000 and 2002, and they were regional champions in 2001-03. In recognition of his great success in coaching, Mr. McMahan was inducted into the Greater Chattanooga Area Sports Hall of Fame in February 2012.
Mr. Smith won his first state championship diving title for Baylor when he was an eighth grader and went on to win four more state championships in his Baylor career. At the University of Alabama he was named SEC Freshman Diver of the Year and became a Division 1 NCAA six-time All-American. He finished his NCAA career by placing third on the one-meter board, twelfth on the three meter board, and fourteenth on the platform. He was named All-American in all three. In 2005, Mr. Smith was a member of the United States team at the World University Games in Izmir, Turkey. He was on the SEC Academic Honor Roll all four years of college, and in 2005, he was named a Capital One Academic All-American by ESPN the Magazine. Based on his GPA he was named a finalist for the H. Boyd McWhorter SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award, and used the post-graduate scholarship to earn a master’s of business administration degree at the University of Alabama.
Because health issues prevented him from accepting his Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011, Dr. Coleman Barks, class of 1955, will also be recognized at this year’s program. Barks is a son of Herb B. Barks, Sr., Baylor School’s headmaster from 1929 to1964. His brother, Dr. Herb Barks, Jr. ’51, was the school’s headmaster from 1971 to1988.
Mr. Barks earned a B.A. and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina and an M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley. For the next 34 years, he taught American literature and creative writing at various universities. He retired from the University of Georgia as professor emeritus in 1997. He is best known for his interpretation of the writings of the 13th century Persian poet Jelaluddin Rumi., and is an author of 21 volumes of translations of Rumi’s poetry, including The Essential Rumi. He has appeared twice on Bill Moyers’ PBS specials, and his work has been included in The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. He is often credited with raising the popularity of Rumi in the English-speaking world; his Rumi translations have sold more than a million and a half copies. In March 2005 the U.S. State Department sent Coleman to Afghanistan as the first visiting speaker there in 25 years. In 2006 he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Tehran. He has also published seven volumes of original poetry and was inducted to the Georgia Writers’ Hall of Fame in 2009.