HSU Announces 2020 Faculty and Staff Members of the Year

August 26, 2020 Nikki Slater

The 2020 Faculty and Staff Members of the year are Dr. Robert Ellis and Jim Jones.

The votes took place in the Spring, but the announcement was delayed until the return to campus in August. The announcements were made during the welcome back to campus appreciation breakfast on August 18.

Robert EllisDr. Robert “Bob” Ellis, most recently served as the Dean of the Logsdon School of Theology and Logsdon Seminary and remains a current Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew under the Logsdon School of Theology.  Dr. Ellis was an alumn of Hardin-Simmons where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in religion and a minor in philosophy.  He went on to receive his Master’s in Divinity and Doctorate in Philosophy, with a major in Old Testament and minors in New Testament and ethics from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  He also spent two years in post-doctoral study at the University of Cambridge in England.

Dr. Ellis frequently ministers in churches as a preacher and Bible conference leader and has engaged in mission projects in Brazil, Romania, England, China, Nigeria, and South Africa. He has led travel courses to Israel and Greece. His passions are following Christ, his family, teaching, serving the church, baseball, fly fishing, gardening, and travel.

“Dr. Ellis is one of the stars on our faculty. He found a haven here when his previous institution was under assault by forces positioned against student learning. As an HSU graduate, he flourished here and pointed his students toward critical thinking and truly understanding the Bible. Dr. Ellis has risen among his peers to become a Dean. And in that position, he has admirably defended his School against those who would diminish the value of the kind of theological education that HSU has always prized.” —Rich Traylor

Jim JonesMr. Jim Jones recently retired in May after 16 years as at Hardin-Simmons University.

Jim grew up in Ft. Worth and came to Hardin Simmons to pursue his education as a first-generation college student and ended up making Abilene his permanent home.  He took a position in the Abilene Philharmonic Orchestra to help with college expenses and further his music education which then became a 33 -year commitment to this organization.  After completing his education and completing a long career in the music profession, Jim ended up back at his alma mater in 2004 as the Director of Financial Aid.  In 2011, he was promoted to the Associate Vice President for Enrollment Services where he served until his retirement.

He credits HSU to the spiritual, academic, and social influences that made him into the person he is today and for bringing he and his wife Nancy, of 45 years after meeting on campus.  His children also graduated from Hardin-Simmons making them third generation Cowboys and now his grandchildren are proud members of the HSU Posse Kids.

“Oh my goodness! Jim LOVES HSU, and I have never had a conversation when he doesn’t offer wisdom for how we can do our jobs better. I first met him when I was a freshman on campus, and he drove several Honors students 3 hours one way to Austin just to participate in an Honors Dinner. He goes out of his way to make sure that we succeed. Jim is always willing. He’s always offering encouraging words and devotional thoughts for the team. He’s also willing to step in whenever necessary or whenever someone needs help. Not just because he wants to provide good customer service, but mostly because he cares about people for who they are. That’s the best customer service and team member you can have.” —Hayley Smiley

Two steps comprise the selection process for Faculty and Staff Member of the Year: nominations and voting. Nominations were accepted from mid-February to the beginning of March from employees of the university and included statements of support regarding how the nominees fulfill each of the given criteria. Upon receiving the nominations, the Administrative Council narrowed the list to 10 nominees in each category, faculty, and staff. University employees were then invited to vote directly for their top picks for both Faculty and Staff Member of the Year.

To be selected, nominees must be full-time faculty or staff who have worked for the university for three consecutive years. Though the nomination and voting processes are the same, faculty and staff must exemplify different characteristics to be selected for this award. The Faculty Member of the Year exemplifies teaching excellence, professional development, service to the university, and demonstrate strong Christian values. The Staff Member of the Year exemplifies innovation, dedication, service, and demonstrate strong Christian values.

Also honored were three runners up in each category.

Faculty:  Dr. Lindsey Edwards, Dr. Scott Hamm, and Dr. Ron Rainwater

Staff: Mrs. Kacey Higgins, Mrs.Elizabeth Torres, and Mr. Marcus Wood

Celebrating milestones with Hardin-Simmons were Tim McCarry, and Dr. Ronald Rainwater for 35 years of service; Britt Jones, Dr. John Neese, Elizabeth Norman, Dr. Dennis O’Connell, Dr. Janelle O’Connell, Dr. Andrew Potter, and Dr. Don Taylor for 25 years of service; followed by Dr. Renee Collins, Chad Grubbs, Debbie Kelly,  Dr. Marsha Rutland, and Marcus Wood for 20 years of service.