Wayland Faculty Honored with Temporary Chairmanship Professorship

PLAINVIEW – Members of the Wayland Baptist University faculty have taken on new roles due to recent changes.

Dr. Niler Pyeatt, professor of history, has been named interim chairman of the Division of Social Sciences at Wayland. Pyeatt is filling the shoes of chair Dr. Estelle Owens, professor of history, who is on sabbatical for the spring and summer completing research for the university’s centennial history book.

Pyeatt has been teaching history at Wayland since 1992, starting with the assistant professor role and named full professor in 2002. He primarily teaches the U.S. History survey courses and World Civilizations as well as upper-level British and European history classes.

Before coming to Wayland, Pyeatt taught part-time at Texas Tech University while finishing his doctorate. He holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree and a Master of Arts degree, both in history, from Tech and a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Eastern New Mexico University.

At Wayland, Pyeatt has been honored for his contributions, receiving the Janis Davis Faculty Appreciation Award and the Faculty Scholarship Award, both in 2004. He serves as sponsor of the College Republicans organization and co-sponsor of Phi Alpha Theta history honor society.

He has published articles, reviewed other articles and made several presentations about history topics.

Dr. Bobby Hall, vice president of academic and graduate services, said the interim choice spoke well of the division’s talent.

“It is an indicator of the strength of Wayland's faculty that someone of Dr. Pyeatt's talent is available to serve in the capacity of interim division chairperson,” Hall said. “Dr. Pyeatt has positively impacted the lives of many students as an advisor, as a teacher, and as a member of the Wayland community. We are appreciative of his willingness to serve in this role and Wayland will benefit from both his academic and administrative contributions during the interim period.”

Christa Smith, associate professor of modern languages and literature, has been named the Joachim Professor of Languages and Literature at Wayland. In her 37th year at Wayland, Smith has taught French and German as well as English courses in the Division of Languages and Literature.

Dr. Don Cook, professor emeritus of English, held the Joachim Professorship for more than 30 years and upon his retirement, the title was handed down. Smith was chosen by a vote of the division faculty for the honor, which comes with a monetary stipend.

“Christa Smith is most deserving of this recognition. She has dedicated her career to teaching and has done so with distinction. In addition, she has effectively contributed in many ways to the life of the University and to the Plainview community,” said Dr. Bobby Hall, vice president of academic and graduate services at Wayland. “It is most appropriate that she has been recognized in this way by her colleagues.”

Smith said the professorship was a welcomed honor.

“I feel extremely honored to have been chosen by my colleagues; they know my professional contribution best,” said Smith.

Smith has a bachelor’s degree from Wayland and holds two master’s degrees from Texas Tech, one in comparative literature and one in German. She has also done post-graduate work at Tech as well. She has taught at Wayland’s campus in Kenya for five summers and at the Alaska campus.

Smith is active in the Soroptimist Club of Plainview and the First Baptist Church. She has volunteered as an interpreter/translator for various entities in French and German.

In other staff changes, Priscilla Edwards has moved from the admissions office to the position of institutional research analyst in the Office of Institutional Effectiveness. Under the direction of Penny Poole, the office completes reports and research data for accreditation and study purposes.

With undergraduate and graduate degrees in business from Wayland, Edwards brings a familiarity with the university and a business background to the position. In her new role, Edwards will be assisting with data analysis and reports for the office.