Strong Foundations

May 30, 2024
Dr. Larry Browning (left) and Dr. Bert Crossland (right)
Dr. Larry Browning (left) at his retirement reception in 2019 and Dr. Bert Crossland (right).

When Dr. Bert Crossland, BSEd ’80, MSEd ’86, thought about creating an endowed scholarship at Baylor, he thought of the professor who most influenced his career path — Dr. Larry Browning. Browning joined the Baylor faculty in 1977 and served as chair of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction from 2006 until his retirement in 2019.

Crossland graduated from Baylor with a major in elementary education and taught in schools in Killeen and Valley Mills, Texas, and West Dundee, Illinois; he also taught at the University of North Texas, where he earned a PhD, and at the University of Alaska Anchorage. He is now CEO of Crossland Literacy, a successful consulting firm that supports teachers through professional development and distribution of high-quality reading resources.

Crossland said it was when he came back to Baylor for a master’s degree that he really felt the influence of Browning. Although Crossland had an education degree and had been teaching in Killeen for several years, the deeper exploration of the philosophies of education had an impact on him.

“Dr. Browning introduced me to the world of great thinkers in the world of reading education — a world I was totally unaware of. It provided a great foundation for my research,” Crossland said.

Dr. Larry Browning in 1980 and Bert Crossland in 1980 as a Baylor senior
Dr. Larry Browning (left) in 1980 and Bert Crossland in 1980 as a Baylor senior, from the Round-Up yearbook.

“There was a good connection between Dr. Browning and me; I liked his style and his philosophy,” he added. “He introduced me to great writers like Frank Smith — whose book of essays is still on my shelf — Dolores Durkin, Louise Rosenblatt, and many others that helped to form his viewpoints on teaching and learning, and most specifically reading education.”

Browning remembers his student fondly, noting that it was unusual at the time for a master’s student to have the extensive classroom experience that Crossland had.

“He was also unusual in that he read all of the materials and always prepared for class,” Browning joked. “He seemed to like my classes and to think he was learning something, and he laughed at my jokes. What more can you ask for?”

Browning said it was a time of controversy regarding the philosophy of teaching reading — the “reading wars” — and that their views seemed to align. “We spent time talking after class and just got to know each other,” he said.

The two friends have not stayed in close contact during the years, although Browning said he has watched Crossland’s career from afar. Having lived outside of Chicago for 30 years, Crossland rarely visits Baylor. But he credits Baylor and Browning for his success, and that’s why he chose to support Baylor and the School of Education (SOE).

“I could not have predicted where I am sitting today and the great experiences I’ve had, the great leaders in reading education that I’ve worked with,” he said. “I got there because I had a good, strong foundation, and Baylor gave me that.”

The Browning Crossland Endowed Scholarship is fully endowed and will go to deserving students in the SOE with preference for those studying elementary education. Crossland plans to continue contributing to the fund and has made a planned gift through his estate.

“I wanted Dr. Browning’s name to be first,” he said of the fund’s moniker. “He deserves to be known for a long, long time.”

Browning said Crossland has done “a lot of good” in his educational career. “I’m so thankful that he did this and that we got to reconnect. No one has ever honored me this way.

To find out more ways that you can support the School of Education, please contact Elisa Dunman at (254) 709-0870 or via email at
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