Mikeal Parsons, Ph.D., Designated as University Distinguished Professor

Designation is highest honor bestowed on Baylor faculty

April 11, 2023
Mikeal Parsons, Ph.D., professor and The Macon Chair in Religion at Baylor University

Mikeal Parsons, Ph.D., professor and The Macon Chair in Religion at Baylor University, has been designated as Baylor’s inaugural University Distinguished Professor, the highest honor bestowed on Baylor faculty.

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WACO, Texas (April 12, 2023) – Baylor University Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., announced today that Mikeal Parsons, Ph.D., professor and The Macon Chair in Religion at Baylor University, has been designated as Baylor’s inaugural University Distinguished Professor, the highest honor bestowed on Baylor faculty.

University Distinguished Professors are recognized for their advancement of Baylor’s mission through outstanding achievement in scholarship and/or creative activity as evidenced by exceptional national and international recognition in their respective disciplines or at the intersection of multiple disciplines. In addition, these faculty contribute to the professional development of colleagues and serve as a passionate mentor for colleagues and students. Parsons was informed of his selection by College of Arts & Sciences Dean Lee Nordt, Ph.D., and Doug Weaver, Ph.D., religion department chair and professor of Baptist studies.

“I am honored, humbled and deeply grateful for receiving the designation of University Distinguished Professor,” Parsons said. “The 28-year-old version of myself who began teaching at Baylor in 1986 could never have imagined such an honor coming my way. I have been privileged to work with wonderful students, staff, faculty and administrators over the years. This recognition is a testament to the supportive infrastructure, material resources and stimulating intellectual environment provided by the Department of Religion, College of Arts & Sciences and the larger University.”

Baylor previously designated the separate titles of Distinguished Professor and University Professor but recently created a new policy and process for University Distinguished Professor designation, which includes dean nomination and input of a selection committee with a designated membership that includes faculty members. The Provost expects a maximum of two University Distinguished Professor appointments in each two-year cycle.

“I am thrilled that Professor Parsons was selected as the first University Distinguished Professor. His accomplishments reach the very high expectations of this award,” Provost Brickhouse said. “Distinguished scholars from across the country carefully articulated the nature of Dr. Parson’s contributions to our understandings of the New Testament and how this scholarship places Dr. Parsons amongst the most revered scholars in this field. Another important component of this award is its emphasis on mentorship. Not only have Dr. Parson’s mentees excelled, they credit their accomplishments in part to the support and guidance of Dr. Parsons.”

A North Carolina native and first-generation, summa cum laude graduate of Campbell University, Parsons spent his senior year of college studying theology at the University College, Cardiff Wales. He received the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Southern Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. While a graduate student, he served as pastor of the First Baptist Church, New Castle, Kentucky.

Parsons began his teaching career at Baylor as a lecturer in religion, working his way up the professional ranks achieving the title of Professor and Macon Chair in Religion in 2003. He has authored or edited more than 30 books and 60 peer-reviewed articles and essays. He has supervised some 30 doctoral dissertations at Baylor, most of which were subsequently published as academic monographs.

In 1993, Parsons was elected to membership in the Studiorium Novi Testamenti Societas, the international society whose membership is by invitation. In 2018, he received the Baylor URSA Undergraduate Mentor of the Year Award and, in the same year, was recognized as the John Gammie Distinguished Professor by the Southwest Commission on Religious Studies.

“I am thankful for the love of my family, and I am especially grateful for my spouse, Heidi Hornik, chair of Baylor’s Art and Art History Department, (and co-author on so many projects), whose support and encouragement have been unfailing over the years. Again, I am deeply appreciative of this honor,” Parsons added.


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 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


The College of Arts & Sciences is Baylor University’s largest academic division, consisting of 25 academic departments in the sciences, humanities, fine arts and social sciences, as well as 11 academic centers and institutes. The more than 5,000 courses taught in the College span topics from art and theatre to religion, philosophy, sociology and the natural sciences. The College’s undergraduate Unified Core Curriculum, which routinely receives top grades in national assessments, emphasizes a liberal education characterized by critical thinking, communication, civic engagement and Christian commitment. Arts & Sciences faculty conduct research around the world, and research on the undergraduate and graduate level is prevalent throughout all disciplines. Visit the College of Arts & Sciences website.