Ellis Honored by Hardin-Simmons Faculty

By LORETTA FULTON

The wait was worth it for Dr. Robert Ellis, who just learned that he had been chosen the Faculty Member of the Year at Hardin-Simmons University, an award that normally is announced at the end of the spring semester.

But last spring was far from normal, with COVID-19 disrupting all aspects of life. So, Ellis learned via email on Friday that the faculty at Hardin-Simmons had selected him. 

“I think we all had forgotten about that,” he said.

Well, not everyone has forgotten. Ellis will be honored Wednesday at a faculty breakfast on campus. Classes are scheduled to begin Monday, with a mix of in-person and online courses.

Dr. Robert R. Ellis, Hardin-Simmons University Faculty Member of the Year

Ellis has been dean of the Logsdon School of Theology and Logsdon Seminary since 2018. With the announcement last spring that Logsdon would be closing, Ellis is beginning his final year at Hardin-Simmons. He will teach three classes this fall and three next spring as about 60 students finish their degrees at Logsdon. 

“I’m basically overseeing the teach-out process for the year,” he said.

In addition to teaching, Ellis will work with the 60 students, who are on campuses in Abilene and San Antonio, as they finish their degrees. 

When public schools and universities closed on-campus classes last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, online education became the norm. Hardin-Simmons, like most other universities, will continue with live-streamed online lectures as well as in-person classes this fall.

“I’ve been so impressed,” Ellis said, “at how adaptable everyone has been.”

Ellis turned 65 in July and isn’t sure about the future past May 2021.

“I may be retiring,” he said. “I’m old enough to do that.”

Ellis noted that he hasn’t taken a sabbatical in 20 years, by his own choosing, and it may be time to take one. His wife, Teresa, is retiring as Logsdon librarian Aug. 31.

Praises for Ellis’ selection as Faculty Member of the Year came quickly on Facebook. One of the first was from Myles Werntz, a former colleague who will be heading up the new Baptist studies program at Abilene Christian University.

“Congrats to Robert R. Ellis for being named Faculty of the Year at HSU,” Werntz wrote. “He was nominated and voted on by his peers. Bob is one of the best people I know, and I’m proud you were my dean.”

Rob Sellers, a former religion professor at Hardin-Simmons, also offered congratulations.

“Congratulations, Bob. This is a wonderful validation of your creative and compassionate work as professor and dean,” Sellers wrote. 

Ellis is a product of Hardin-Simmons, earning a bachelor of science degree in religion in 1977. He earned a master of divinity degree and a doctor of philosophy degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also spent two years, 1992-1993 and 2000-2001 in post-doctoral study at the University of Cambridge in England.

Ellis began his ministry career as pastor of Forestburg Baptist Church in Forestburg, Texas, from 1980 to 1984. He joined the faculty at Hardin-Simmons in 1984 and then moved to the faculty of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He taught there until 1996 when he returned to HSU. 

Ellis is the author of “Learning to Read Biblical Hebrew: An Introductory Grammar,” published by Baylor University Press in 2006. He also is a contributor to numerous articles, books, dictionaries, and professional journals. 

Ellis also has engaged in mission projects in Brazil, Romania, England, China, Nigeria, and South Africa, in addition to serving as a guest minister and Bible conference leader. 

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