Dr. Karen Alexander Recognized as Dallas Baptist University’s Piper Outstanding Professor of the Year

Dr. Karen Alexander

"I have to say that the richest part of receiving this recognition is knowing that it comes from being part of a community. This community has richly blessed me and has richly supported me. It is so good to be in a supportive academic community." (Dr. Karen Alexander)

Dr. Karen Alexander has been a dedicated professor at DBU for nearly ten years, teaching both English and Spanish courses in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Dr. Alexander is passionate about the lives of her students both in and out of the classroom, seeks to establish thought-provoking instruction through deep reflection on writings of the past, and aims to foster relationships between students through a number of different instruction methods. It is because of all these reasons and more that DBU is proud to name Dr. Karen Alexander the Piper Outstanding Professor of the Year.

Dr. Alexander was born in San Antonio, Texas. Because her father was in the Air Force, Dr. Alexander grew up all around the globe, spending time in Ankara, Turkey; Dayton, Ohio; San Antonio, Texas; and the Philippines. As she moved into adulthood, her love for the nations grew, leading her to become a full-time missionary later in life.

Dr. Alexander attended Baylor University, where she obtained her undergraduate degree, followed by a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at the University of Virginia. Dr. Alexander went on to receive an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Baylor. She completed her journey of higher education by conducting her post-doctoral work in Spanish at the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba in Argentina.

Dr. Alexander has been married to her husband, Dr. Mark Alexander, for 40 years. He also serves as a professor at DBU, teaching intercultural studies in the College of Christian Faith and in the Graduate School of Ministry. Prior to their time in Dallas, the Alexanders served as missionaries with the International Mission Board for 25 years in Argentina. The couple has three children: Ariel, who lives with her family in Bolivia where she works with women coming out of trafficking; Lucas, who lives in Waco with his family where he is an emergency department doctor at Baylor Scott and White; and their youngest son, Steven.

The Alexanders first came to DBU after being introduced by their colleague Dr. Bob Garrett to Dr. Cook in 2012 upon returning to the U.S. to take care of their parents. Dr. Karen Alexander teaches English and Spanish classes, as well as upper-level courses in English literature such as courses on seventeenth century English poetry and Shakespeare, and surveys of literature from Spain and from Mexico.

"Obviously, as teachers we desire students to learn well and to learn deeply," says Dr. Alexander. "Constructing a classroom community provides the context for deep learning." Dr. Alexander accomplishes this in-class community by having students pray for one another, growing trust and relationships through group projects, and being intentional to understand the context from which each student emerges.

"Seeing God work in students' lives in, and out of, the classroom is what I am most passionate about," Dr. Alexander says. "For example, studying John Donne's poetry and helping students appreciate the cataclysmic suffering going on around Donne in the seventeenth century, plague, religious turmoil, and his own personal suffering of losing his wife and some of his children. Then reading his poetry in which he argues with God, cries out in his suffering, and maintains his trust in the one who sees, knows, and redeems. This unit helps students appreciate a God who can redeem suffering in their own lives."

It is authentically Christ-centered teaching like this that sets DBU apart. The integration of biblical ideas, the true care of professors like Dr. Alexander, and the commitment to encouraging growth across all aspects of life brings DBU's mission statement alive:

"The mission of Dallas Baptist University is to provide Christ-centered quality higher education in the arts, sciences, and professional studies at both the undergraduate and graduate levels to traditional age and adult students in order to produce servant leaders who have the ability to integrate faith and learning through their respective callings."

DBU proudly recognizes Dr. Karen Alexander as the Piper Outstanding Professor of the Year, honoring all the hard work she does in each and every classroom into which she steps.

In closing, Dr. Alexander leaves us with this: "I am thankful to be here and to see Him work in me, through me, and most of all," she says, "around me."

Written by Emmalie Ellis

Emmalie Ellis writes for the University Communications department at Dallas Baptist University.