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When he speaks about writing the 600-plus-page history of the University, he describes it as a solitary project.
Dr. Don Looser, vice president emeritus, will see three years of effort come to fruition when “An Act of Providence” is published in mid-November.
Halcyon Press is expected to publish 1,500 copies of the work close to Nov. 15, the 50th anniversary date of the chartering of the University.
Looser said he and Dr. Doug Hodo, president emeritus, conceptualized the idea for a written history in the 1990s. When President Robert B. Sloan Jr. took office in 2006, Hodo and Looser presented their proposal to him. The University commissioned the project, and Looser began working on it that year.
Looser officially retired from his position as vice president of academic affairs in 2007, but has continued to work on campus to complete the book.
He spent more than three years working on the project, gathering information from various sources. He said he relied heavily on the bound volumes of the previously published editions of the Collegian when writing the history. He used them to research and to verify facts, he added.
“The Collegian has been really wonderful,” Looser said. “In many ways, it has captured the moment on campus at a particular time.”
He also referred to past University publications, board minutes and other sources.
Sloan said he could not imagine anyone but Looser being able to write the book because of his longevity on campus. Hired in 1964, when the University was known as Houston Baptist College, Looser has witnessed 46 years of history as it happened. He also used personal notes taken during his time at the University.
Looser said he wanted the book to help its readers establish a broader perspective in regards to the University’s history.
“All participants — students and parents, faculty and staff, administrators, trustees, donors, and the public — had varying knowledge about the actual experience of others,” he writes in the book’s epilogue. “It soon became apparent that an assignment for this volume was the presentation of the varying perspectives by the many constituencies.”