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Alumni 150

Since Baylor’s first graduate in 1854, more than 140,000 men and women have earned degrees from Texas’s oldest
university. “Alumni 150” celebrates the collective mark these alumni have made upon the world through their exceptional achievements. As part of the Baylor Alumni Association’s celebration of its Sesquicentennial anniversary in 2009, the Line has profiled 150 of Baylor’s most remarkable alumni, with ten featured per issue. The selected alumni represent a range of professions and callings as well as eras in the school’s history. With this issue, and the final ten alumni selected, we conclude this special project. If you’d like to comment on “Alumni 150,” e-mail us at

William H. Bruce

Dr. William H. Bruce is remembered as one of Texas’s most important educational leaders, but his life and career in teaching started a few states to the east in the Deep South. Born in 1856 in Georgia, Bruce was raised in Alabama and began teaching in a rural school following his high school graduation. For eight years, he balanced work with his studies at Alabama A&M College (now Auburn University), earning a bachelor’s in mathematics in 1883. He moved back to Georgia to teach and work on a doctoral degree at Mercer University, but left the following year to become the head of the faculty of Blanco High School in Texas.

Over the next nine years in Blanco, Bruce stayed plenty busy, earning a master’s degree from Baylor University in 1886 and completing his PhD from Mercer in 1890. In 1893, he left Blanco to become the school superintendent in Marble Falls, and a few years later he served in the same capacity in Athens. His next stop was Stephenville, where he served for a year, from 1899 to 1900, as president of John Tarleton College (now Tarleton State University). He went on to serve as head of the mathematics department at North Texas State Normal College (now the University of North Texas) for four years, and then in 1905 he was named president of the young institution.

During Bruce’s seventeen-year tenure as president of North Texas State, which ended in 1923, he transformed it from a three-year preparatory school to a four-year college, thereby establishing the college as the top teacher-training institution in the state. He once described his job as “president, dean, stenographer, head janitor, and night watchman.” Bruce raised admission standards and oversaw the student enrollment’s expansion from 1,028 to 4,700. He increased the number of faculty from fourteen to 118 and added eight new buildings, including the school’s first dormitory, to the campus.

Bruce’s leadership role in education included a term as president of the Texas State Teachers Association in 1905, five years (1905-10) as chair of the Texas State Board of Examiners, and eleven years (1912-23) as president of the Council of Texas Normal College Presidents. In addition, during his career he made an international name for himself as a mathematician and writer, authoring Some Noteworthy Properties of a Triangle and its Circles in 1904; co-authoring two mathematics textbooks, Elements of Plane Geometry and Elements of Solid Geometry, in 1910; and authoring The Nine Circles of the Triangle in 1932.

Bruce died in Opelika, Alabama, in 1943.—Todd Copeland

Hans Brattskar

While many of the world’s superpowers continue to haggle over the causes of and solutions for climate change, Norway has quietly become the biggest international funder of rainforest conservation. And the man leading that charge is Hans Brattskar, the special advisor of the government of Norway’s International Climate and Forestry Initiative.

Since 2008, Brattskar has guided the Scandinavian country’s efforts to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by reducing deforestation and forest degradation. Under his leadership, Norway—whose population is just 1.5 percent of the U.S. population—has committed $440 million a year with the hope that other countries and agencies, such as the United Nations and the World Bank, will follow suit.

“Norway . . . could be catalytic in the sense that we could start building the international framework needed to make it easier for other countries to follow suit,” Brattskar has said. In his efforts to bring other countries to the table, Brattskar has met with numerous world leaders, including Britain’s Prince Charles, and played an integral part in December’s UN-led climate conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

No stranger to the world stage, Brattskar, who earned a master’s in international management from Baylor University in 1980, served as the Norwegian ambassador to Sri Lanka from 2003 to 2007. During his tenure, Brattskar was called upon to hold together an Oslo-brokered cease fire in the wake of fighting between Sri Lankan government troops and rebels, who were waging a guerilla-style war.

Prior to his ambassadorship, Brattskar lived in the U.S. several different times. In addition to his Baylor degree, he earned a PhD from Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California. From 1998 to 2003, he lived and worked in New York City, where he was the UN delegation’s Council of Ministers.

A noted economist and sociologist, Brattskar has also held managerial positions to support Norway’s minister of international development. He continues to be involved with the Oslo Forum, an annual global event that strives to improve the mediation of armed conflict. —Lisa Asher

Marc Burckhardt

Marc Burckhardt was an art history major at Baylor University, and the historical forces of art still influence his work today, he has said. A leading commercial illustrator, Burckhardt has produced paintings for publications such as Time, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, National Geographic, and the New York Times Magazine and for entities including Major League Baseball, Volkswagon, Barnes & Noble, and several record companies. In recognition of this success, he has been named 2010 State Artist by the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Texas Legislature.

Burckhardt has said that his early artistic influences included Dürer, van Eyck, and Rivera, along with comics, but that he finds inspiration in the outgrowth of artistic eras, such as medieval religious icons and American and English sporting paintings. Burckhardt’s distinctive illustrations are produced on wood panels and often exhibit a folk-art flair. He creates his paintings by building up layers of acrylic and oil paints and then finishing each work with a Raku pottery firing process that creates a unique crackle effect.

Burckhardt grew up at Baylor, and in Europe in the summers, as the son of German professors Jochem and Chris Christenson Burckhardt ’55, MA ’71. After graduating from Baylor in 1986, he earned another degree in 1989 from the Art Center College of Design.

As an illustrator, Burckhardt is particularly known for his portraits. He has painted commissions of Barack Obama (for Newsweek), Oprah Winfrey (Time), George W. Bush (Texas Monthly), Nelson Mandela (Time), Carlos Santana (Rolling Stone), Willie Nelson (Texas Monthly), and Ho Chi Minh and Walt Disney (both for the History Channel).

Burckhardt was commissioned to produce the cover of June Carter Cash’s album Wild Wood Flower. During the project, June died, and Johnny Cash asked Burckhardt to come to his home and paint a portrait of June. Burckhardt got to spend several days with one of his musical heroes and even sit in on one of his final recording sessions. In 2005, Sony Records commissioned Burckhardt to paint the cover illustration for the posthumous Johnny Cash collection The Legend. The packaging won a Grammy for boxed sets in 2006.

Burckhardt is also building a reputation as a fine artist, but told 3x3 Magazine that illustration will continue to be his focus. “I still really love illustration,” he said. “I enjoy the assignments—not knowing what I’ll be painting next. I like the collaboration and the variety. And I’m not sure that I’d get the same satisfaction from being a fine artist.”

Burckhardt’s paintings have been exhibited in numerous galleries, and his works have won a number of industry awards. Works by Burckhardt are in the private collections of celebrities including Oprah Winfrey and Ralph Lauren.—Meg Cullar

Richard Sellars

Dr. Richard  Sellars first worked for the National Park Service in the mid-1960s as a seasonal naturalist in Grand Teton National Park. He was working his way through graduate school, and his duties were relatively modest—doing campfire talks and nature walks. But during his time in Wyoming, he had already begun preaching the “big picture” understanding of the natural world and its preservation in the national parks that would underlie his thirty-five-year career as one of the Park Service’s most significant historians, researchers, and administrators.

“In the Grand Tetons . . . I always encouraged people to appreciate what they saw there but also to appreciate what they had back home,” he has said. “Appreciation can lead to curiosity and understanding and greater care of the land—not just in the parks, but everywhere.”

Sellars’s career with the National Park Service began in 1973, a year after earning a PhD from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He had previously graduated from Baylor University in 1957 with a bachelor of science in geology, and he had also earned a master’s degree from the University of North Texas. His first position was in the Southwest Regional Office in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which would go on to serve as home for the entirety of his Park Service career, although his research, writing, teaching, and administrative activities involved virtually the entire National Park System. In total, he visited nearly 370 of the more than 390 units of the National Park System. From 1979 to 1988, Sellars headed the Southwest Cultural Resources Center in Santa Fe, overseeing programs in history, archeology, and historic architecture for the Southwest Region, as well as Park Service-wide programs in underwater archeology.

In 1997, Yale University Press published Sellars’s book Preserving Nature in the National Parks: A History, hailed as the most thorough history of the national parks to have been written. Sellars delved into the details of how Park Service policies were formed over the decades and the varying roles played by landscape architects, foresters, wildlife biologists, and other Park Service professionals. “The incredible beauty of the national parks has always given the impression that scenery alone is what makes them worthwhile and deserving of protection,” he wrote in the introduction.

But as the book revealed, an amazing ecological wealth existed behind that scenery whose preservation had always hinged on the dedicated work of scientists, even if the Park Service had for many years given more funding and positions to landscape architects than experts in wildlife management or biologists. Sellars’s book became the catalyst for the Natural Resource Challenge, a multi-year program funded by Congress to revitalize natural resource management and science in the national parks.

In 1999 and 2000, Sellars served as president of The George Wright Society—an organization dedicated to the preservation of natural and cultural parks and preserves. Following his retirement from the National Park Service in 2008, Sellars was awarded the George B. Hartzog Jr. Award in May 2008 by the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees. In presenting the award to Sellars, the organization cited “his unparalleled past contributions to understanding and advancing the cause of natural resource management in the National Park Service, for his continued professionalism and positive contributions to cultural resource management.”

Sellars is writing a companion study to Preserving Nature—a history of how historic and prehistoric sites have been managed in the National Park System. He lives in Santa Fe.—Todd Copeland

Sam Houston Clinton

Sam Houston Clinton was a criminal defense attorney and an eighteen-year member of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest criminal court in the state. A 1949 Baylor University law grad who also attended Baylor as an undergraduate, Clinton was born in 1923 in Waco, where he was raised.

Clinton worked in labor law for the Dallas firm Mullinax and Wells before moving to Austin and opening his own practice in 1956. He made a legal name for himself representing high-profile defendants, including famous atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair when she moved to Austin. He also had the guilty verdict of Jack Ruby, the Dallas bar owner who shot Lee Harvey Oswald on national television, overturned based on procedural errors. Ruby, meanwhile, had died of cancer while in prison.

Clinton was the general counsel for the Texas AFL/CIO and for the Texas Civil Liberties Union. In the late 1960s, he won a lawsuit that resulted in the desegregation of women’s dormitories at the University of Texas. In Austin, Clinton served on the Historic Landmark Commission and, with his law partner Dave Richards, occupied the first historically zoned building in Austin.

Before going into private practice, Clinton had served as a naval aviator in World War II, worked as an aide to Waco-based Congressman W. R. (Bob) Poage, and was a field attorney for the National Labor Relations Board and a fingerprint examiner for the FBI.

In 1978 he was elected to the Court of Criminal Appeals, and he won re-election twice to subsequent six-year terms. During his time on the court, he wrote 1,094 opinions, the second most of any justice on the court.

Clinton was no relation to his namesake, Sam Houston, but in his obituary in the Austin American-Statesman, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett of Austin, a former Texas Supreme Court justice, said Clinton lived up to the name. Doggett said, “On more than one occasion, [Clinton] demonstrated the courage of his namesake. He was a fine jurist, an outstanding lawyer, and a powerful voice for progressive causes.” Clinton died in 2004 and is buried in the Texas State Cemetery.—Meg Cullar

Jodi Arnold

The words “evolve,” “powerful,” and “dream” are printed on the clothing labels of a Jodi Arnold original design. They are words that Arnold has lived by and that have helped her reach the pinnacle of the New York fashion world.

As a young girl in Birmingham, Alabama, Arnold turned her hand to sewing. “I just loved to make and wear clothes that were different from other kids,” she said. After graduating from Baylor University in 1988 with a degree in home economics and fashion design, she moved to New York City, where she worked as a pattern illustrator and assistant designer for Danskin active wear.

But because she hadn’t attended one of the top design schools, such as Parsons School of Design, she found it difficult to land design jobs. So she went out on her own to create her own line. Taking inspiration from, of all things, a cup of mint tea she had once drunk in Paris, Arnold named her line “MINT,” which debuted in 1999. Arnold’s interest in art and global culture led her to create pieces that featured unique beadwork, embroidery, and inventive patterns.

In 2000, Arnold was given the Young Designer Award by the American Cotton Council, which called her line “flirty and feminine, yet grounded in classic styling but with a twist.” Her designs have been worn by everyone from Cameron Diaz to Diane Sawyer and have appeared in the pages of every major fashion magazine, as well as in People and In Style.

True to her clothing label, Arnold has continued to develop her own style. In 2007, she launched a second, eponymous line for a more sophisticated customer. “As a designer, I’ve evolved away from that girly thing and still keep it feminine and whimsical, without being cutesy,” she said. She has also broadened her range from special-occasion pieces to clothing for every occasion—or for no occasion at all.

While Arnold has a store in New York City, she lives in Brooklyn, she said, because the warmth and lack of pretense there remind her of home. “At the end of the day,” she said, “I just want to create clothes that have a soul . . . an authenticity.”—Lisa Asher

Gil Stricklin

Gil Stricklin is the founder and CEO of Marketplace Ministries, a groundbreaking company that provides faith-based contract chaplains to secular businesses nationwide. When the company was launched in 1984, Stricklin was the only employee and chaplain. Marketplace Ministries now has more than twenty-four hundred chaplains, and Stricklin still serves as senior chaplain.

Stricklin took a leap of faith to start the company, offering a service that nobody had ever considered before. In a 2004 publication celebrating Marketplace Ministries, Stricklin said, “My vision was simply to love people in the name of Christ and to show the attributes of God through kindness and care in the workplace . . . so that people could see something of God’s love in human flesh.”

A 1957 Baylor University business graduate, Stricklin went through Baylor in the Air Force ROTC and was commissioned a second lieutenant upon graduation. He spent thirty-seven years in active and reserve duty as a chaplain in the Air Force and Army, retiring as a colonel. He graduated from the National Defense University in national security and the U.S. Army War College. Upon his retirement from the Army Chaplains Corps in 1994, he was presented the Army Legion of Merit, one of the highest peacetime medals given.

Stricklin said that the military prepared him for his current company. “I learned how to be an evangelical Christian in a very secular environment,” he said. “There is no more secular business in the world than the military, no more mixture of ethnicity, religions, and individual personalities.”

After active duty, Stricklin earned a BA in journalism from TCU and was religion editor of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and for six years he was special assistant for media relations for the evangelist Billy Graham. He then spent fourteen years at the Baptist General Convention of Texas, leaving in 1984 to begin Marketplace Ministries.

Stricklin is married to Ann March Stricklin, also a Baylor graduate, and their two sons both are Baylor graduates.—Meg Cullar

Hattie Brantley

Hattie Brantley’s life took a dramatic turn when the Japanese attacked and invaded the Philippine Islands in 1942, at the start of U.S. involvement in World War II. A lieutenant and nurse in the U.S. Army, Brantley was taken captive in the offensive. As a result, she became one of a group of captured nurses whose actions during almost three years of captivity would earn them the nickname “Angels of Bataan.”

The East Texas native, born in Jefferson in 1916, earned a nursing degree from Baylor University in 1937. Stationed in the Philippines, she was among the nurses who retreated from Manila to the Bataan Peninsula in the face of the Japanese attack. They served in open-air wards on Bataan before being ordered to retreat to the island fortress of Corregidor, where they were stationed in the hospital wards located in the underground tunnels during the Battle of Corregidor.

The Japanese eventually overwhelmed Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s forces, taking Corregidor on May 6, 1942. Two months later, Brantley and seventy-seven other nurses—the largest group of American women to be taken captive by an enemy—were moved to prisons in and around Manila. Imprisoned in the Santo Tomas prison camp until February 3, 1945, she and her fellow nurses cared for the medical needs of more than four thousand fellow prisoners despite dengue fever and a daily diet that was reduced to seven hundred calories per prisoner by 1945. The average nurse lost 30 percent of her body weight during the long imprisonment.

On the day the Santo Tomas camp was liberated during the Battle of Manila, the prisoners hid in the hospital. Brantley once recalled that when she heard a soldier call out, “Is there anybody here? We’re Americans,” she responded, “What took you so long?” Upon their return to the U.S., Brantley and the other Army nurses were awarded the Bronze Star for valor and a Presidential Unit Citation for extraordinary heroism in action.
“Like their male counterparts, these nurses faced the reality of combat, anguish of surrender, and the brutality of captivity,” retired Rear Admiral Frances Shea-Buckley of the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps has said. “Their story is one chapter in the annals of World War II that must be told, if American men and women are to appreciate the depth of sacrifices made by their countrymen and women in the cause of freedom.” The Santo Tomas internment camp was featured in Ken Burns’s documentary The War.

After twenty-eight years of service, Brantley retired from the military in 1969 with the rank of lieutenant colonel and as the last of the captured Army nurses to leave the service. In 2003, she was honored as “Outstanding East Texas Nurse” in commemoration of National Nurses Week. Brantley died in 2006 in her hometown of Jefferson.—Todd Copeland

Kevin Reynolds

Kevin Reynolds wants to make a rock-and-roll Western. You read that right, a cowboy movie with a killer soundtrack, or as Reynolds has described it, “Unforgiven with Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin music. I know that sounds really odd, but I know it can work.”

People in the movie business have learned that you don’t underestimate Reynolds when he says something can work. The movie director and screenwriter has helmed a few high-profile films, including Robin Hood: Princes of Thieves and Waterworld. But it’s with his smaller, more personal films—including the cult favorite Fandango—that Reynolds has carved out a niche on the silver screen.

Some people seem destined for Hollywood fame from almost their first steps. Kevin Reynolds was not one of those people. The son of former Baylor University president Dr. Herbert H. Reynolds, Kevin grew up believing that writing and directing movies was too impractical. So after earning a degree in history from Baylor in 1974, he entered Baylor Law School, graduating in 1976.

Reynolds left Waco for Austin, where he practiced law in the Secretary of State’s office and, for a creative outlet, took some film classes at the University of Texas. “I started spending as much time making little movies as I did practicing law,” he told the Baylor Line, “so it was time to make a decision.” His decision was to quit his job, move to Los Angeles, and attend film school at the University of Southern California.

USC proved to be the right place for Reynolds; out of his classes there, he wrote a script that became the 1980s hit Red Dawn, and a short film was optioned by Steven Spielberg’s production company. That film, Fandango, told the story of four college friends as they prepared to go their separate ways. Based on Reynolds’s own Baylor friendships, the film became a word-of-mouth classic.

That film would also cement the friendship between Reynolds and one of its stars, Kevin Costner. Together, the two would collaborate on several more movies, including the infamous Waterworld, a film that cost upwards of $200 million to make and caused a rift between the men that led to Reynolds walking away from the film before post-production was finished.

Reynolds took a couple of years to regroup and, as he described it, “restore my soul as a filmmaker.” His later projects, including 2001’s The Count of Monte Cristo and the 2006 version of Tristan & Isolde, were more modest productions, and they enjoyed success.

During a return trip to Austin in 2009 for the Austin Film Festival, Reynolds spoke about his future plans, which include a project with Richard Gere and even something with Costner, who he once again counts as a friend. And what about that rock Western? Reynolds insists that there’s an audience out there for it. “Because I think audiences want to be surprised,” he says. “You want to see something you haven’t seen before.”—Lisa Asher

Joseph E. Hawkins

Dr. Joseph E. Hawkins’s career as one of auditory science’s most prominent figures was launched during his student days at Baylor University. Five decades later, he returned full circle when he decided to serve as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Biology at Baylor in his retirement.

Born in 1914 in Waco, Hawkins was part of the Baylor family from the start. His father was chair of Baylor’s Department of German, and his mother also worked on campus. He learned German at a young age and studied for a year in Munich, Germany, before enrolling in Baylor at the age of sixteen. He earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1933 and spent the next year engaged in graduate study in chemistry and biochemistry at Brown University before learning that he had been named a Rhodes Scholar, becoming only the fourth Baylor graduate to have achieved that honor at the time.

The three years Hawkins spent at Oxford University, where he completed another bachelor’s degree in 1937, were followed by a position as a teaching fellow at Harvard University Medical School, where he earned a PhD in medical sciences in 1941. He later earned a master’s degree from Oxford in 1966, and in 1979 he was awarded a Doctor of Science degree from Oxford on the basis of his pioneering work on ototoxic vertigo and hearing loss.

Hawkins began to focus his research on the ear during his years at Harvard. During World War II, he served as an instructor in physiology at Harvard and conducted war-related research on the effects of intense sound on the ear and the effect of noise on communication—studies that refined the understanding of the anatomy and pathology of the inner ear. He also developed tests of hearing for speech that are still routinely used in audiological evaluation.

Hawkins once characterized his work over the years as having dealt primarily with “bad things that happen to the ear,” and he pursued his research at a variety of institutions—including the Merck Institute for Therapeutic Research, New York University Medical School, and the Sahlgrenska Hospital in Goteborg, Sweden—before joining the University of Michigan and the school’s Kresge Hearing Research Institute in 1963. To his earlier research in ototoxicity—the negative effect of certain drugs on the ear—he added investigations of the deafening action of noise, drugs, disease, and aging on animal and human ears.

Although he formally retired from Michigan’s medical school in 1984, he still taught and conducted research there as a professor emeritus of otorhinolaryngology (physiological acoustics) as well as teaching undergraduate classes in anatomy at Baylor each spring from 1985 to 1993.

Hawkins’s honors included the Award of Merit from the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, the Gold Medal for Basic Science of the Prosper Meniere Society, and the medals of the cities of Pleven (Bulgaria) and Bordeaux (France). He authored more than 115 publications on a variety of issues, including drug ototoxicity; effects of noise on hearing; inner ear anatomy, physiology and pathology; and psychoacoustics and audiology. He died at the age of ninety-four in 2008 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.—Todd Copeland

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