A Fond Farewell: Dr. James Farison

A Fond Farewell

Baylor University mourns the passing of two inspirational and dedicated professors from the School of Engineering & Computer Science (ECS). Dr. James B. Farison, professor emeritus of engineering and chair of the engineering department and Dr. Tommie R. Thompson, professor of mechanical engineering. Farison went home to be with the Lord on January 19, 2017, at the age of 78 and Thompson on June 29, 2015 at the age of 74.


Dr. James Farison

A native of McClure, Ohio, Farison earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Toledo and his master’s degree and PhD in engineering from Stanford University. Over the next 35 years, he went on to have a distinguished career at the University of Toledo as both a professor and dean of the College of Engineering. Following his retirement from Toledo, he and his wife, Gail, relocated to Waco. During the next 15 years, Farison served in a number of capacities, including professor and chair of the department of engineering at Baylor, where he especially enjoyed the opportunity to share his faith in Christ in an academic atmosphere.

Farison was remembered by his colleagues as a remarkable and wise Christian man who worked tirelessly to lead and promote the engineering programs at Baylor.

“I consider Dr. Farison to be one of my dearest all-time friends, and he represented the integrity and ethic that one seeks to model and employ,” said Dr. Ben Kelley, professor of mechanical engineering.

“Jim was a consummate professional and a faithful servant of Jesus,” said Dr. Randall Jean, professor of electrical and computer engineering and graduate program director in ECS. “We all miss him and remember his service to our department and his genuine friendship with great gratitude. In the last years of his service at Baylor, after stepping down as chair, his most often expressed comments were thankfulness for the blessing of his wife and the joy of his time spent with us in our department.”

“Jim Farison and I arrived on Baylor’s campus in the fall of 1998. Over time he became my colleague, mentor and friend,” said Dr. Kenneth Van Treuren, professor of mechanical engineering and associate dean for research and faculty development. “His wealth of experience and wisdom helped shape the School of Engineering & Computer Science into what we see today. He was instrumental in beginning our engineering graduate programs and in forming the two engineering departments. His passion for education was only exceeded by his love for God. Jim came to Baylor for the same reasons that attract faculty and students today: his belief in the Christian mission that is found at Baylor University. He was truly an inspiration and his legacy will continue in all that we do.”

According to his obituary, “one of his greatest passions was to serve the Lord in many capacities in his local church, both while in Toledo and Waco. He also enjoyed spending time with his family and loved being with his four grandchildren. While he is greatly missed, the family is encouraged by the fact that he is in the presence of his loving Savior, Jesus Christ.”