Longtime science professors to receive distinguished alumni award at WBU

Release Date: February 18, 2008

PLAINVIEW – Longtime Wayland Baptist University science professors Dr. J. Hoyt Bowers and Dr. Gerald Thompson will be honored with the Distinguished Lifetime Service Award at Wayland Baptist University during homecoming festivities Feb. 21-24. Specifically, the awards will be presented during the 11 a.m. chapel slated for Friday, Feb. 22.

The pair will also be inducted into the Division of Mathematics and Science’s Hall of Honor in a Friday afternoon ceremony in Moody Science Building. The event, slated at 2 p.m., will feature the addition of plaques to the Moody wall, remarks by longtime coworkers and a reception.

Both Bowers and Thompson will be retiring in May at the conclusion of the 2007-08 school year after logging more than 40 years of service to the university. Bowers has been at Wayland since 1963, while Thompson joined the faculty in 1967.

A native of Clarksville, Texas, Bowers earned his bachelor’s degree from Sam Houston State Teacher’s College in 1957 and a master of education degree in 1958. He then received another master’s degree in biology from Stephen F. Austin University in 1964 and his doctorate in science from Texas Tech University in 1973.

As professor of biological sciences at Wayland, Bowers also served as chairman of the Division of Math and Sciences from 1982-2004. During that time, he helped establish a dual degree program in math and engineering with Texas Tech, and was instrumental in securing a grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to fund a summer science program to boost the skills of secondary science teachers in the region.

The grant, which led to the formation of the ASSIST (Academic Summer Science Institute for Secondary Teachers) and ASSET (Academic Summer Science for Elementary Teachers) programs, has been received continuously for 22 years, impacting 2,000 teachers and earning recognition from the state.

In his 45 years at Wayland, Bowers has seen great growth in the biology department, going from six majors in 1963 to 77 in 2007. The faculty has also increased on the Plainview campus, growth Bowers attributes to putting the academic and Christian welfare of the students first.

“I have made a sincere effort to inject and maintain a Christian influence in all areas of my work at Wayland. I have felt blessed in knowing what God called me to do in life where I was supposed to serve,” Bowers said. “I have seen Wayland grow and emerge as a vital tool used by God in furthering Christian education around the world. I feel blessed to have had a part in helping carry out Wayland’s mission of spreading the Gospel through the building of a strong math and sciences program.”

Bowers and his wife, Joanne, who is retired after teaching chemistry and physics at Plainview High School for 37 years, have a son, Mark, of Dickinson and two grandchildren. He is a deacon at College Heights Baptist Church.

A native of Bula, Texas, Thompson received his three degrees from Texas Tech University including the B.S. in Agricultural Education (1956); the M.S. in botany with minors in zoology and microbiology (1967) and his doctorate with a major in range science and a minor in plant physiology (1986).

He also did post-graduate study at Texas A&M, North Texas State, Oklahoma State, Oak Ridge Associated Universities, HACH Technical Training Center in Loveland, Colo. and the Teletraining Institute at Oklahoma State.

Thompson began his teaching career as a Vocational Ag instructor and FFA advisor in Dora, N.M. in 1956 and after serving for a year in the U.S. Army, he taught science at Pep School. He taught science at Cotton Center High School and was a teaching assistant in botany at Texas Tech. He taught science at Petersburg High School from 1962-67 prior to joining the Wayland faculty.

He was named Outstanding Teacher at Petersburg in 1966. His pastor, the Rev. Russell Pogue, was a member of the Wayland Board of Trustees and encouraged him to apply for a teaching position at the college.

Thompson also has taught introductory biology at Wayland’s campus in Kenya for three summers. He received the Distinguished Faculty Service Award from the Wayland Association of Former Students in 1988.

Thompson has received several teaching and research fellowships though the years. Through the Eisenhower Grants Program at Wayland, he wrote course content for grant proposals and taught graduate biology courses for ASSIST and ASSET from 1986-2000. He has had a number of scholarly publications and has read papers for professional organizations.

He and his wife, Marilyn, longtime telephone service manager for Wayland, have three sons – Stephen of Southlake, John Mark of Dallas and Paul of New York City ­­– and four grandchildren. He is a deacon and former Sunday school teacher at College Heights Baptist Church.

Family and friends are endowing a scholarship in honor of Dr. Thompson.

“Teaching at Wayland has been a great experience and I am blessed to have done something I have loved for so long,” he said.