(EDITOR’S NOTE: These remarks were delivered at the final faculty meeting of the 2020-21 academic year by Lauren Callihan, head librarian for Hedges Library.)
As I thought about how to best honor Carl Owens ’74 today, I realized that the only fitting way to celebrate him is in a way that reflects his 37 years of service as a dedicated reference librarian, expert researcher, and outstanding historian – by presenting a tribute to him in the form of a research paper.
(Oh, and by the way, Carl hasn’t checked my citations for this project, so I’m sure I’ll be hearing about my mistakes later.)
Carl Owens entered Baylor School as a ninth grader in the fall of 1970. During his time at Baylor, Carl bore witness to many changes and updates to the school, including the end of Baylor's military program in 1971 and the headmaster appointment of Dr. Herbert Barks, Jr. By the time Carl graduated, legendary faculty members Fred Hubbs, George Taylor ’54, Bill Cushman ’59, David Harris ’66, and Dr. Dan Kennedy were all on staff, and the inimitable Bruce High was at the helm of Hedges Library. From the very beginning, Carl has been at home in the library, and, fun fact, he served as one of the 1974 Baylor yearbook editors, a group which met under Bruce High in Hedges Library.
Carl was integral in leading Hedges Library into the digital age by creating the library’s first website, and he has worked tirelessly over the years to help students understand and avoid plagiarism in the context of the Baylor Honor Code.
Carl graduated from Baylor in 1974, and he went on to study at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, but Carl couldn’t stay away from The Hill for too long. On a visit to Baylor’s campus to see Mr. High, the famed head librarian offered Carl a position as the school’s reference librarian – and the rest, as they say, is history.
Carl began his faculty career at Baylor in 1985. While he worked in Hedges Library by day, he commuted back and forth from Knoxville regularly by night as he worked towards his M.S degree in library science from the University of Tennessee.
As Baylor’s reference librarian, Carl is famous for his multi-page documents that house any and all resources that a class might find helpful, and Carl will not rest until he follows up on every last detail of the project. Carl has dedicated untold hours helping students research information of all shapes and sizes, write research essays, craft analytical arguments, and, yes, correctly cite each and every source. If one comes to the second floor of the library, where, as Carl says, “the air is fresher and the students are smarter,” he or she is most likely to observe Carl and a student combing the reference collection searching for just the right resource or carefully reviewing the student’s Works Cited page to ensure that no comma is out of place and no title is left unitalicized.
Carl was integral in leading Hedges Library into the digital age by creating the library’s first website, and he has worked tirelessly over the years to help students understand and avoid plagiarism in the context of the Baylor Honor Code. According to Jen Clemmer, Class of 2007 and current science instructor, “Carl Owens is responsible for some of the longest-lasting lessons of my Baylor education. I took copies of his research handouts with me to college and frequently referenced his information on the Baylor website as I worked on papers and assignments. This may sound silly, but his guidance helped instill a love for learning that will last a lifetime.”
Carl Owens is responsible for some of the longest-lasting lessons of my Baylor education … his guidance helped instill a love for learning that will last a lifetime.
In addition to working with students and faculty on academic research projects, Carl has been a long-time supporter of the advancement office. The school often receives seemingly impossible tasks, such as tracking down a record of the poetry award someone’s grandfather won in 1953 or digging up a yearbook photo of the 1979 state-winning soccer team, but Carl somehow always manages to fulfill the requests. Carl has an impressive knowledge of our school’s history, and he is the very definition of institutional memory.
Over the years, Carl Owens has been a friend to a great many Baylor students, faculty, and staff members. When reflecting on their 18-year friendship, Reverend Dan Scott said, “I will always remember Carl’s sense of humor, wonderful friendship, and his ability to go above and beyond for me anytime I’ve been in need.” Indeed, the entire Baylor community is richer for Carl Owens’ friendship and service to the school.
Please join me in celebrating Carl and his many outstanding years of service to Baylor School.