Baylor University Honors Its First Black Graduate Student in Religion

The department of religion in the College of Arts & Sciences at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, has announced the establishment of the Robert L. Gilbert Scholar in Religion Graduate Stipend, named in honor of Baylor’s first African American graduate. The Gilbert Scholar in Religion will receive an annually enhanced stipend of $6,000 above the base stipend of $20,000, with full tuition remission for up to five years (a package of about $250,000 over that period).

The late Rev. Gilbert — an influential educator, pastor, and civil rights leader in the Waco area — graduated from Baylor in 1967 with a bachelor’s degree in history. In 1970, he became the first African American to enroll in Baylor’s graduate program in the department of religion. During his time in that program he became assistant director of the university’s Upward Bound program.

“We are grateful to be able to honor the legacy of Rev. Robert Gilbert by offering this stipend that combines two of his passions: education and the church,” said James Nogalski, director of graduate studies in religion. “We hope that the addition of the Robert L. Gilbert Scholar will enhance our ability as a program both to diversify our student body and to learn how race and culture impact the learning process. We anticipate that our Gilbert Scholars will return this investment many times over as they bring new insights, different experiences, and fresh perspectives into our conversations.”

Rev. Gilbert died in 1992 at the age of 50. More than 1,000 people attended his funeral on the Baylor University campus.

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