WBU Awards Gibbens

Honorary Doctorate

Jerry Gibbens, who served for more than half a century as an English professor at Williams Baptist University, was presented an honorary doctorate by the university during its commencement ceremony on Aug. 8.


“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.”

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.

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.

The professor emeritus title signifies faculty who have provided noteworthy and longstanding service to WBU. Any member of the faculty who retires after at least 20 years of full-time service to Williams, with a minimum rank of assistant professor, and who has rendered “distinguished and meritorious services” to the university, maybe appointed professor emeritus.


In 2017 the “Jerry Gibbens Atrium” was officially dedicated in the Maddox Center after extensive renovations were made to the building. At the time Gibbens was the longest-serving member of the faculty at WBU and was bestowed with honors after spending much of his career teaching in the building.


“Jerry Gibbens is a master teacher across generations, mentor to younger faculty, relentless learner, formidable academician, serious Christian, and his legacy is now appropriately recognized in this gathering place for students, in this wonderful place for learning,” Startup said at the dedication ceremony.