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Dr. Zachary Beck, Associate Professor of English, Nominated for Prestigious Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation Award

January 31, 2024

East Texas Baptist University announces Dr. Zachary Beck, Associate Professor of English in the School of Christian Studies and Humanities, as the university's nominee for the esteemed Minnie Stevens Piper Professor Award. Dr. Beck's outstanding contributions to academia and leadership within the university make him a worthy contender for this prestigious honor.

Established in 1950, the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation operates as a non-profit charitable corporation with a dedicated focus on postsecondary education in Texas. Annually, the foundation carefully chooses ten Piper Professors from various regions in Texas, recognizing their exceptional teaching at the college level.

“I have watched Dr. Beck grow not only our Honors program but also as a significant academic leader on our campus,” Dr. Thomas Sanders, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs said. “He has earned the respect and esteem of both students and faculty. He challenges students to follow Christ with not only their lives but with their minds as well. Dr. Beck is a great representative of ETBU and its mission of developing servant leaders.”

Under Dr. Beck's leadership, the Honors Program at East Texas Baptist University has experienced remarkable growth. In just four years, the program has expanded from six students in 2019 to an impressive 86 students in 2023. These students now comprise 6% of the undergraduate body and an impressive 15% of the freshman class.

Dr. Beck's commitment to academic excellence is evident in his nine years of dedicated service as the chair of the ETBU's Honors Program. In this role, he has overseen and approved 25 student Honors Projects across various disciplines.

“I strive to make my classes spaces of hospitality for students, and I constantly challenge myself to encounter my students thoughtfully and meaningfully,” Beck said. “The students in our program are not only excellent thinkers but are also kind and faithful men and women who want to hone their tremendous talents in obedience to God’s call on their lives. It is a great privilege to serve this community of scholars, to equip them in their calling.”

In 2015, Dr. Beck implemented crucial revisions to the Honors Project procedure. These changes included the addition of student defenses at the proposal and completion stages, along with enhanced oversight at the departmental and school levels to ensure the highest quality projects. In 2017, he further contributed to the program by designing the Honors minor, which includes the Honors Project and four junior-level seminars surveying Western intellectual history. Recognizing the importance of student retention, Dr. Beck introduced four additional courses for freshmen and sophomores in 2021. His commitment extends beyond the classroom as he plans and hosts social events for Honors students nearly every week of the semester, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie.

In addition to his role in the Honors Program, Dr. Beck has been an active member of the Faculty Senate. Serving as the English Department representative from 2020-2022, he was subsequently elected Chair of the Faculty Senate in the summer of 2022. In this capacity, Dr. Beck contributed to committees tasked with revising the Faculty with Distinction selection process, the Faculty Senate's constitution, and the university's sick leave policy.

After completing his term as Chair, Dr. Beck continues to serve the Faculty Senate Past Chair, acting as a vital liaison between the Senate and the administration. His dedication to institutional improvement was evident in his contribution to the English Department's five-year program review in 2023. Dr. Beck played a key role in mapping the program's outcomes to its curriculum map, providing a narrative assessment based on institutional effectiveness data, and proposing adjustments for a more streamlined student advising process.

East Texas Baptist University proudly supports Dr. Beck’s nomination for the Minnie Stevens Piper Professor Award, recognizing his exceptional dedication to academic excellence and the university community.

“I am deeply grateful to be nominated for the Minnie Stevens Piper Professor Award,” Beck said. “My colleagues are all outstanding professors, and it means so much to have their endorsement for my nomination, as well as to be recognized for this honor by the administration. Personally and professionally, this has further affirmed to me that God called me to serve at ETBU, and I am blessed by that affirmation.”