Guest / Limited Access /
Page 2 of 3

Baylor 2012 announced the institution's intent to become a tier one institution. Do you think that goal will become a reality in the next decade?

I don't want to offer future predictive judgments. The future is unknown and unknowable. I do believe Baylor 2012 is a comprehensive plan for excellence and the expansion of learning, and the further and central integration of faith and learning is extraordinary and courageous. I embrace it wholeheartedly and enthusiastically. The grand vision of Baylor 2012 is one of the very important dimensions of Baylor life that has drawn me this great institution. The board of regents unanimously supports Baylor 2012. Here we are in 2010, so it is time thoughtfully to assess where Baylor is as an institution, and after that assessment, the process will be to prayerfully contemplate the next step.

The original plan for Baylor 2012 called for many new additions to the university, including an honors college and 10 new doctoral programs, with 200 new faculty appointments. Do you know what the state of Baylor 2012 is right now?

Many of the goals have in fact been accomplished admirably. Others remain as aspirational and noble objectives. The task now is to assess comprehensively and thoughtfully where the university is on that march toward 2012.

Do you think it'll achieve the goals it set out to accomplish?

That is part of the assessment process that I have not engaged in yet, and will be actively addressing{?} in the coming weeks and months.

I understand you plan to switch your membership from a Church of Christ church to a Baptist church.

We worship at University Church here, but we continue our longstanding involvement in McLean Bible Church in McLean, Virginia, so I had moved into the broader evangelical world several decades ago. So many nondenominational churches comfortably fit into the broader Baptistic traditions. I'm very comfortable with Baptist distinctives, many of which are shared in the evangelical world.

Is it more important to you that Baylor is in the Baptist tradition or the Christian tradition?

Both need to be honored. Baylor's mission makes it very clear that it is a Christian university, and at the same time it honors its deep and historic Baptist roots. The Baptist tradition must be lifted up and honored, but as part of a broader vision of serving the Kingdom with a capital K. The Baptist heritage is so deeply rooted in American life and culture; the stories of 17th and 18th century America are made much richer and fuller by incorporating and understanding specific Baptist traditions, particularly noble and unceasing effort to secure freedom of conscience and religious freedom. That is a noble part of the heritage that deserves to be treasured by all Americans, especially those in the broad evangelical household of faith.

You worked on the Proposition 8 case while you've been dean at Pepperdine. Will you take on extra activities while president at Baylor? 

That remains to be seen. That is an unfolding conversation. I certainly know that my immediate task is to listen and learn, and that's going to require more of my full time and energy. It remains to be seen.

Aside from Baylor, what university do you most admire, a university that you want Baylor to aspire to become?

Baylor frequently lifts up Notre Dame University in the Catholic world as a model for excellence while honoring and deepening ties to a particular community. I do hold Notre Dame up as an example here at Pepperdine as an aspirational school. Notre Dame has moved into the highest ranks of American universities in terms of the excellence of its scholarship. Certainly, it has been very intentional in honoring and deepening its historic ties to the Catholic world. In a practical sense, Baylor is very well poised to be a counterpart in the broad evangelical world of higher education.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
RecommendedHow Do I Talk with Someone Whose Worldview Opposes My Own?
How Do I Talk with Someone Whose Worldview Opposes My Own?
This week on Thursday is for Thinkers, Dr. Toby Jennings explores the biblical ways to talk with someone with an opposing worldview.
TrendingFive Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
Five Errors to Drop From Your Easter Sermon
If you want to help people see Holy Week with fresh eyes, start by dropping these familiar fallacies.
Editor's PickHeaven Is For Real
Heaven Is For Real
A toddler’s report that he has visited heaven is met with skepticism from everyone but his father.
Leave a Comment

Use your Christianity Today login to leave a comment on this article. Not part of the community? Subscribe now, or register for a free account.