Inaugural Achievement Awards Ceremony Highlights Baylor Black Alumni Alliance Reunion Weekend

October 3, 2022

Ceremony recognized the Rev. Robert Gilbert Distinguished Black Alumni Awards recipients, BBAA Founders and students receiving the Dr. Vivienne Malone-Mayes Scholarship and Trailblazer Scholarship

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-709-5959
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WACO, Texas (Oct. 3, 2022) – The Baylor University Black Alumni Alliance honored the past while celebrating the bright future ahead for outstanding Baylor students and alumni during its inaugural Achievement Awards Ceremony Sept. 30 in Barfield Drawing Room, one of the highlights of the BBAA’s Reunion Weekend. The evening benefited the Dr. Vivienne Malone-Mayes Scholarship Endowment.

The ceremony included the presentation of the highest award given by the Baylor Black Alumni Alliance: the Rev. Robert L. Gilbert Distinguished Baylor Black Alumni Award. This award recognizes Baylor Black Alumni who, though service, have earned the respect and approval of peers and colleagues in their communities, professions and vocations. The late Rev. Gilbert – an influential educator, pastor and civil rights leader in the Waco area – graduated from Baylor in 1967 with a B.A. in history. Gilbert and Mrs. Barbara Walker were the first Black graduates of Baylor University.

The 2022 recipients of the Rev. Robert L. Gilbert Distinguished Baylor Black Alumni Award are:

  • Col. Patrice Holmes, B.S. ’97: Col. Holmes is the commander of the 28th Mission Support Group, Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. She leads a group of nearly 2,000 military, civilian and contractor professionals in planning, organizing, coordinating and implementing installation services and support to more than 7,740 military and civilian personnel and their families. She has received numerous major awards and decorations, including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, among others.
  • Larry W. Coffer II, B.S.Ed. ’00, M.S.Ed. ’06: Coffer is a research administrator at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, where he manages the research activities for the Department of Breast Medical Oncology and the Morgan Welch Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Program and Clinic. At MD Anderson, Coffer also serves as a guest lecturer for the Cancer Research Administration and Management Certificate Program and volunteers to assist with fundraising and diversity efforts. He recently was recognized with a Citation for Excellence Award for Laboratory Research, a top honor at MD Anderson.
  • Pearlie Beverly, B.A./B.S., M.S.Ed. ’01: Beverly, a native of Snyder, graduated from Lincoln High School in 1965, the last graduating class before the schools integrated. Her family encouraged her to be the first in the family to go away for college. Beverly attended Jarvis Christian College with the goal of becoming a teacher. At Jarvis, she was a leader for equality, ultimately serving as student body president. She encouraged students to stand up for what was right and used her skills as a collaborator to work with faculty, staff and all students to be agents of change. Beverly loves Baylor students and has seen the population of minority students grow from 11% to 38% since her arrival at Baylor in 1988. She worked in the Graduate School until 1994 and was named director of Multicultural Affairs in 2005. At the urging of a student, Beverly returned to school to earn her M.Ed. in 2001 from Baylor.

“Our organization has worked alongside Baylor University for over 35 years to provide support to current Baylor students, faculty and staff. This event is our way to showcase outstanding alumni who have made significant impacts in their respective professions and those who have laid solid foundations while at Baylor University,” said Marie A. Brown, B.A. ’92, president of the Baylor Black Alumni Alliance. “We are forever indebted to the founders of this organization as well as those who came before us.”

The evening included remarks from Black members of the Baylor Board of Regents: Michael P. Heiskell, B.A. ’72, J.D. ’74, Senior Attorney, Johnson, Vaughn & Heiskell; Alicia D.H. Monroe, M.D., provost, senior vice president of academic and faculty affairs and professor of family medicine at Baylor College of Medicine; and Michael McFarland, B.B.A. ’93, Ed.D. ’05, superintendent of schools, Crowley Independent School District.

In addition, the ceremony recognized the founders of the Baylor Black Alumni Alliance, formerly The Baylor Black Alumni Club, which was chartered by a small group of alumni in 1980. Although established in 1980, the organization was officially recognized and chartered by Baylor in 1985. With this new relationship with the University, the members decided to add a new focus and created a scholarship to assist students who demonstrated financial need and academic excellence, and since 1985, has awarded over $40,000 in academic scholarships to minority students. In honor of the founders, emcee John “JJ” Joe, B.B.A. ’93, M.B.A., led a conversation with founders Isaac Hardy (President), B.B.A. ’80; Shawneequa Mitchell Harris, B.S. ’78, M.P.H., D.D.S.; Michael P. Heiskell, B.A. ’72, J.D. ’74, and Bennie Lambert, B.B.A. ’83, M.S.Ed. ’90, Ph.D.

The BBAA also took time during the ceremony to recognize the 48 recipients of the University’s Trailblazer Scholarship and the two recipients of Dr. Vivienne Malone-Mayes Scholarship: Lydia Samuel, a senior nursing major from Garland, and Shelynbria Jackson, a senior biology major from Cypress.

Dr. Malone-Mayes was the fifth Black woman in the U.S. to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics and the first Black female to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin. She had originally applied to Baylor in 1961 but was rejected because of her race. In 1966, Dr. Malone-Mayes joined the Baylor faculty as a professor of mathematics and taught for 28 years until ill health forced her to retire in 1994. She passed away June 9, 1995, at age 63. Baylor recognized Dr. Malone-Mayes in February 2019 with the unveiling of a bronze bust at the entrance of the department of mathematics, which represented the first sculpture of a female professor or alumna on the Baylor campus.

The sold-out crowd in Barfield Drawing Room included President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., who offered remarks about a remarkable group within the Baylor Family.

“Our Black alumni have made tremendous contributions to our campus, to the church and to our world,” President Livingstone said. “We celebrate the ways they have contributed to Baylor University and have transformed their communities after graduation, and we look forward to the future impact that Black alumni will have as they shine the light of Christ and fling their green and gold afar.”

For more information about the BBAA, visit the Baylor Black Alumni Alliance website.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.