‘Student engagement is key to learning’

10.10.2016 | By Rob Vanya

Veteran educator Dr. Richard Bailey retires from San Jacinto College

A guide on the side rather than a sage on the stage.

That is how Dr. Richard Bailey, who recently retired from San Jacinto College, describes his personal teaching philosophy. “Lecture is important, but I also strived to be a coach and mentor and encouraged class discussions,” the longtime educator remarked. “The real key to learning is having students engaged, getting them personally involved. I liked for students to become so knowledgeable that they could teach the class. In fact, I would let students teach in class on occasion. The Latin proverb ‘Docendo Discimus’ is true: ‘Men learn while they teach.’”

Evidently his teaching style is effective. Through the years the popular professor and administrator has won awards for teaching excellence, as well as the respect of students and fellow educators. In his 45 years as an educator, he won the Ottis Lock Award for Excellence in Teaching, won a NISOD (National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development) Excellence Award, was twice nominated for the state Minnie Piper Award (the equivalent to a campus teacher of the year award), and has served as president of the Texas Association for Institutional Research.

Bailey’s position with the College at retirement was vice president of accreditation and special initiatives, where he served as the primary liaison to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, as well as overseer for numerous district-wide student success initiatives such as Achieving the Dream, the STEM Council and Men of Honor. His other administrative positions with San Jacinto College have been director of research and institutional effectiveness and North Campus vice president of instruction. In the classroom, he served as a history professor at the North Campus for 13 years.

His 39 years of experience with San Jacinto College ranked as one of the longest tenures at the time of his retirement. He is one of the few employees who has worked with every one of San Jacinto College’s six chancellors – Dr. Tom Spencer, Dr. Tom Sewell, J.B. Whitely, Dr. Jim Horton, Dr. Bill Lindemann and Dr. Brenda Hellyer.

At a recent reception, many students, friends and colleagues gathered to bid farewell to Bailey. “Dr. Bailey’s contributions to San Jacinto College and the community are far reaching,” commented Dr. Laurel Williamson, San Jacinto College president and deputy chancellor. “He is versatile and always willing to participate in every aspect of the College. He helped lay the foundations for many of our current student success initiatives. He has been a leader, friend and mentor for many employees and students. You can see his work and contributions throughout the successes of the College.” 

Bailey, 69, grew up in Fort Worth and graduated from the city’s Northside High School in 1965. He holds three degrees in history from Texas Christian University, a bachelor’s, a master’s and a Ph.D. He and Kim, his wife of 35 years, have three adult sons and four grandchildren, ages 1 to 6 years old.

His retirement plans include enjoying more time with his grandchildren, as well as “sleeping as late as I want at least a few days a week.” He also plans to enjoy two of his favorite hobbies, playing guitar and tying “flies” used in fly-fishing. “Tying flies is sort of a craft and hobby I enjoy doing,” he commented. “I don’t get out and fly-fish like I used to, but my oldest son does, so I keep him well stocked with flies.”

His retirement won’t be all R and R. He plans to finish an academic history project he has in the works that deals with early 1800s Texas history from the Mexican perspective. Bailey has a “fairly good” ability to translate Spanish, and he is translating from Spanish to English several writings about Texas history viewed from the perspective of Mexican historians. He also will continue to serve as an adjunct professor at the University of Houston Clear Lake, where he teaches two courses – Current Trends in Higher Education and Higher Education Law and Policy.

About San Jacinto College

Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, since 1961. As a 2017 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence Top 10 finalist and an Achieving the Dream Leader College, approximately 30,000 students each semester benefit from a support system that maps out a pathway for success. The College offers seven areas of study that prepare a diverse body of students to transfer to a four-year college or university or enter the workforce with the skills needed to support the growing industries along the Texas Gulf Coast. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $690 million each year to the Texas workforce.

For more information about San Jacinto College, call 281-998-6150 or join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.