Jerry Gibbens, who served for more than half a century as an English professor at Williams Baptist University, was presented an honorary doctorate by WBU Saturday. The honor was bestowed during the university’s commencement exercises.
“It is astounding to think of the contributions Jerry Gibbens has made to Williams Baptist University through more than 50 years of service. His intellect, his dedication to academic excellence and his exemplary Christian commitment are hallmarks of his tenure at WBU. As I remarked to him, it was one of the highlights of my own academic career to present him the doctoral hood,” said WBU President Dr. Stan Norman.
The presentation was made by Norman and Dr. Kenneth Startup, a longtime academic dean and emeritus professor of history at Williams.
“Jerry Gibbens has been a faculty member of truly singular significance during his long, distinguished tenure at Williams,” Startup said. “His passion for teaching, his remarkable skill as a teacher, his love for learning, his unfailing support of his colleagues and of the university and its mission are unlikely to be surpassed.”
Gibbens, a WBU alumnus, returned to his alma mater in 1967 as a member of the English faculty, serving for 53 years in that capacity before retiring this spring. He was also chair of the Division of Arts and Sciences and the Department of English and Communication Arts. He was named an emeritus professor upon his retirement.
Dr. Blake Perkins, chair of the WBU Department of History, had recommended to the Williams administration and Board of Trustees that Gibbens receive the honorary doctorate. His recommendation was read at the commencement ceremony.
“Professor Gibbens has also been an exceptional colleague and outstanding mentor to fellow faculty members over the years. As a faculty member, department and division chair and committee member, he has been a stalwart champion and promoter of the highest-quality of Christian liberal arts education,” Perkins’ citation read.
WBU’s commencement had been scheduled originally for May, but it was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. It was rescheduled for Saturday with social distancing protocols in place, giving graduates and their families the opportunity to celebrate the milestone.
Williams is a private, Christian university in Walnut Ridge.