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Balancing Act

This article was published in the Spring 2009 issue of The Baylor Line and written by Meg Cullar.

How do administrators and faculty ensure that Baylor’s Christian commitment complements, rather than unsteadies, Baylor’s pursuit of academic excellence?

LIKE MANY COLLEGE STUDENTS, DARIN DAVIS STRUGGLED with issues concerning the meaning of life—life in general, and his life in particular. While he had been raised as a Christian, he couldn’t see any connection between his faith and what his professors were teaching in the philosophy classes he was taking at the University of Texas. He was grateful for what he was learning, but he wasn’t sure how it fit into his life. 

“I left UT sensing that something essential was missing,” he said. 

Then he came to Baylor to pursue a master’s in philosophy, graduating in 1995. What students typically feel about their undergraduate institution, Davis felt about his graduate university. “My time at Baylor quite simply changed my life,” he said. 

Baylor’s big advantage was a faith-based approach to learning, he said, or at least an approach that acknowledged the role of faith. “The essential difference was that teaching and learning were grounded in a particular tradition—that faith commitments were not simply among the various options that one could learn, but that the Christian faith animated the intellectual work of the university,” he said. “I learned at Baylor that working intellectually from and through a faith perspective requires one to reflect, articulate, and defend one’s views—not simply to assert them—and to be willing to bring one’s views into dialogue with those that might challenge them.” 

While some might suggest that taking a Christian approach to intellectual ventures would create limits on inquiry, Davis found just the opposite. “I found at Baylor a more authentic freedom than I had experienced before,” he said. “I discovered that the freedom I sensed was an expression of Baylor’s Christian identity, not in spite of it.” 

Years later, in 2006, Davis returned to Baylor with a PhD in philosophy from St. Louis University, and now he is helping to support Baylor’s efforts at integrating religious and intellectual pursuits as the interim director of Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning (IFL). 

The institute was founded in 1997″in response to the widespread assumption in the modern academy that the life of faith and the life of the mind are antithetical,” according to the institute’s website. However, a degree of controversy surrounded the IFL at the time of its creation. A segment of the faculty and alumni expressed concern that the institute’s programming represented an overly aggressive effort to insert religion across the curricula. They viewed the advent of the IFL, in combination with other administrative practices during the late 1990s and early 2000s, as threatening to tip Baylor’s longstanding balance of “Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana” (for church and state) toward a manufactured piety. Why were such programs necessary, they wondered, when Baylor had long been and continued to be an institution with strong ties to the Baptist denomination and an undeniably Christian environment on campus? 

Today, while some concerns about the IFL’s role on campus linger, the institute has become a busy hub for activities promoting the integration of faith and learning with the goal, Davis said, of supporting the university’s mission: “to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.” 

Baylor’s major constituent groups, including the Baylor Alumni Association, have supported the university’s commitment to these dual goals of faith and academics. The alumni association recently affirmed this aspect of Baylor’s mission when its board voted on five “core values,” one of which states: “We believe in Baylor University’s distinctive combination of academic excellence and Chris-tian witness as a Baptist institution.”

While there is broad-based agreement about the compatibility of the Christian faith and the academic life on campus, questions nevertheless exist about the extent to which the two should be programmatically integrated by the administration and lived out by the faculty both inside and outside the classroom. 

Revolutionary road 

According to Baylor’s interim provost Dr. Elizabeth Davis, there’s really only one road that Baylor can take to accomplish its goal of integrating faith and learning, and that’s a road where the faculty members are doing the driving. “When you’re talking about the academic pursuits of the creation and dissemination of knowledge—the primary realm where faith and learning come together—things are basically in the hands of the faculty,” she said. “And that’s where they should be.” 

With that basic principle established, Davis agreed that a collegiate sports metaphor might explain the university’s priorities regarding faculty, with the two essential elements being recruiting and coaching. Recruiting includes the selection and tenure granting of faculty members, while coaching encompasses all the university’s efforts and programs to help those faculty members integrate faith and learning both in the classroom and in their academic research. 

Faculty recruitment, Davis said, is focused in the various departments and schools that are seeking to hire for an open position, although all prospective faculty members for a tenure-track position also interview with the Office of the Provost. Davis does not conduct all of those interviews, she said, as many are handled by vice provosts, including Dr. James Bennighof, vice provost for academic affairs and policy, and Dr. Naymond Keathley, senior vice provost.

“Department attention to faculty recruitment is incredibly important,” Davis said, “and this applies as well to mentoring and evaluation early in a new faculty member’s time at Baylor. For this reason, it is crucial that the members of the department become familiar with their new colleagues’ work. And the importance of these processes is all the more evident when one considers that the new faculty are destined themselves to recruit, mentor, and evaluate additional colleagues in the future.” 

Candidates for faculty positions at Baylor are asked to make a comment about their faith journey at their initial application, Davis said, but the answers vary widely, and there is no litmus test for what is an acceptable response. 

“As Baptists, we may be accustomed to the language of Zion—making a profession of faith, being convicted of my sins,” said senior vice provost Keathley. “But someone from a Catholic tradition may not use terms such as these. Candidates may say they were raised in a church and confirmed, or they may say religion was a very important part of their family life.”

Responses by prospective faculty members about their faith journey have ranged from a listing of church membership to a lengthy history of how that person became a Christian to a statement of how their faith influences their academic discipline, Keathley said. A wide range of perspectives can fall into the arena of what is acceptable, according to Baylor officials. 

Baylor hires both Protestants and Catholics, as well as those of the Jewish faith, according to the provost’s office. Causes for real hesitation, the provost said, would be a complete lack of involvement in a local congregation, an inability to articulate a faith commitment, or an inability to articulate how Baylor’s Christian mission differs from that of a secular university.

“We realize that not everyone is going to be able to articulate a keen understanding of faith and learning, and I think we are still evolving in our understanding of integrating faith and learning,” 

Davis said. “Some of the red flags would be either never being part of a congregation or not being part of a congregation for the last several years, so that it’s evident they really have no intent to be a part of a Christian community.” 

Davis said that most of the time, that is not an issue for the provost’s office because the departments do not typically ask to invite a candidate to campus if they don’t believe he or she would be a good “fit” for Baylor in terms of religious commitment. The Office of the Provost sponsors seminars at the beginning of every hiring season to reiterate its position on an active faith commitment and to answer questions faculty have about potential candidates. Any department approved for a faculty hire must have a representative at the seminar—usually the department chair and/or the chair of the search committee will attend. 

Davis, who had been a vice provost for financial and academic administration since 2004 before her appointment as interim provost last July, said, “When you think of all the separate search committees and the numerous people who are reviewing files and inviting people to campus and the fact that very rarely is a candidate coming in who really isn’t a fit, you’ve got to think that we all are on the same page—or at least in the same chapter.”

As an example, the Hankamer School of Business has guide-lines that are similar to those articulated by the provost’s office. Business dean Dr. Terry Maness said, “Given the nature of the institution that we are, we hire faculty for whom faith is going to be an important part of their lives. We don’t ask people to wear it on their sleeve or anything, and we don’t have a litmus test, but faith is some-thing we talk about.”

And that’s nothing new, Maness noted. “A faculty member’s faith commitment has been a part of the hiring process in the business school since I was hired thirty-one years ago.” 

Maness said the university doesn’t provide written guidelines saying that prospective faculty members must belong to a church, but if they don’t, “We’ll talk about it?’ And as faculty members go through the tenure process, he said, faith remains a point of discussion. “It’s not anything we grill somebody over,” he said. “It’s just part of the conversation. We really do want people for whom church is an important part of their lives and fellowship is part of their faith.”

Vice provost Bennighof said that each department and school has the freedom to talk to faculty candidates in a way they think is appropriate. “Typically, they ask about their Christian faith as it relates to the mission of Baylor University,” he said. “I think the rea-son it is important for someone to be part of a congregation is that we believe it will translate into being a part of the Baylor community, in the sense that they’re able to converse about these things—not that someone has to be the same as everybody else.” 

In the hiring process, the faith commitment of a prospective faculty member is considered along with the records of both teaching and scholarly research exhibited by the candidate, Bennighof said. The total lack of evidence of a faith commitment would jeopardize a candidate’s chances, but the same is true of the prospect whose research is lacking or whose teaching style is lackluster. 

“We’re serious in an interview about talking about all three of these things, and the departments are serious about them also,” Bennighof said. “The research is probably the easiest to evaluate from a distance, and the departments have the expertise to do that.” But there have certainly been faculty prospects who have come to campus for an interview, given a class presentation, and then been passed over because of their teaching performance, he noted. 

Everyday ethics 

Once faculty members are on campus, Baylor’s approach to coaching is one of encouragement and opportunity. As business dean Maness put it, it’s more about the carrot than the stick. 

“We’re not mandating; we’re not pushing,” he said. “We’re simply coaching and trying to get people to talk and think about how to integrate faith and academics.” 

While encouragement, not requirement, is the watchword, Baylor’s approach in recent years has certainly been organized and intentional, as evidenced through several new initiatives and programs. While Baylor has focused some efforts on facilitating faculty research that intersects with faith issues, officials say that their primary concern is that a faculty member be able to guide students into thinking of their profession as a vocation—a calling—rather than just as a job. 

The sixth imperative of Baylor 2012—the university’s ten-year vision adopted by regents in 2001—also addresses that issue: “Guide all Baylor students through academic and student life programming to understand life as a stewardship and work as a vocation.” 

“In any field, a professor could be in a position to advise students vocationally,” Bennighof noted. “You could be a math student at Baylor and a committed Christian, and you could come to your math professor and say, ‘How can I be a Christian and a mathematician and not be on the mission field?’ So it’s important for the professor to have enough of a sense of what they are doing as a vocation to address that—not necessarily to convince the student to become a math professor, but to be able to see what they are doing in the context of their faith.” 

To what extent a faculty member at Baylor brings his or her faith into the classroom is an individual matter, according to the provost’s office. In some cases, it’s obviously more pertinent than others, the provost said, but you might be surprised. 

In addition to serving as provost, Davis is also a professor of accounting in the business school, where she began teaching in 1992. And there are certainly things about accounting that have nothing to do with faith. “The debits are always going to be on the left, regardless of your worldview,” Davis noted. “There are a lot of rules to accounting, but if accounting could be strictly reduced to rules, then you wouldn’t need accountants. A lot of accounting has to do with judgment, and some of those judgments certainly are based on who you are and what you believe.” 

Business school dean Maness said, “We like ethics to be spread across the curriculum rather than it being expected that it would be covered in a required course:’ In fact, the business school does not have a required course in ethics, although several departments do have a requirement. “The idea is that if everyone thinks there is a required course, then they won’t take the same responsibility for it,” he explained. 

There might be more time dedicated to ethics in a class on leadership or management than there is in statistics, Maness said, but students should always be exposed to pertinent ethics information. In addition, there are upper-level electives in Christian ethics and principled leadership that are available to business students. 

But if the administrators of the School of Business are expecting ethics curriculum from professors, then who is training the professors? One person who is facilitating ethics training and faith-and-learning know-how is Dr. Mitch Neubert, holder of the Chavanne Chair of Christian Ethics in Business and professor of management development. 

“I coordinate all activities related to ethics,” Neubert said, “and I like to talk about ethics not just as the idea of avoiding wrong and trying to stay out of jail, but it’s this idea of also doing good.”

Neubert said he is inspired by Scripture. “There’s a passage out of Isaiah that says stop doing wrong and start doing good, and I use that as kind of a way to broaden this umbrella in what I talk about regarding ethics.” 

On an ongoing basis, Neubert—along with Dr. Jeff Tanner, associate dean for research and faculty development—tries to supply plenty of opportunities for faculty who feel like they need information about how to integrate ethics and faith into their curriculum. “No one should feel like it’s someone else’s responsibility to talk about ethics,” he said. “Everyone should talk about how ethics affects their particular discipline.”

In cooperation with the dean, Neubert hosts a discussion group each semester for about fifteen faculty members from a variety of disciplines within the school. “We’ll primarily talk about ethics, but also about integrating faith perspectives into that and about how you do that at Baylor. We’ve done these for a number of years, and the hope is that over time, everyone will have a chance to be in those discussion groups.” 

Faculty are not required to teach any specific amount of hours of ethics, Neubert said. “It’s really under the control of the faculty; it’s not something that I enforce or monitor.” 

Neubert said he thinks the business school is doing a good job of teaching ethics to students and providing student-centered programming. He believes that his next step is to expand offerings to faculty “to see if somehow I can be a better resource to people about how they can integrate faith in their teaching and in their research, too.” 

Each year, the business school hosts an ethics forum, and Neubert has expanded it under his watch. “It’s become much more than a speaker and a luncheon,” he said. “We now have several competitions for students that challenge them to experience the process of trying to put their values and faith into practice in making ethical decisions.” 

One of them is an ethics “slam” competition for the one thou-sand freshmen in the “Introduction to Business” class. The students are faced with everyday issues such as cheating off someone’s test, plagiarizing, or responding to a friend who asks for a test question. The students write a response, and then the best responses are advanced to a live competition. “We don’t require or expect that all of our students provide a faith perspective,” Neubert said. “But if that’s one of the reasons for their response, then we encourage them to use their faith values to explain that.” 

There’s also an internal ethics case competition and a nation-wide MBA ethics competition associated with the yearly ethics conference. 

Neubert’s office has also sponsored speakers on Christian leadership, such as Ken Blanchett, the author of Lead Like Jesus, and has held servant leadership seminars. “Those seminars, for both faculty and students, are pretty explicit in terms of how to integrate faith in how they are leading,” Neubert said. 

The ethics forum in the fall of 2008 was combined with the annual symposium hosted by the Institute for Faith and Learning and was themed “Bottom-Up Approaches to Global Poverty.” Neubert said it was a good topic for Hankamer students because “business could play a particularly important role in stimulating economic development in poor countries. If I have a faith that says I should be kind to my fellow man and have a special concern for the poor, how can I do that as a business person?” 

The big picture 

What Neubert has been doing in the business school is similar to what the Institute for Faith and Learning (IFL) and Darin Davis, who became interim director of the institute last September after serving as associate director since his arrival at Baylor in 2006, have been doing for the campus as a whole—helping professors who have an interest in learning how to better integrate faith and learning in the classroom and in their research. 

Like the student-life programming aimed at developing a sense of vocation in students, many of the programs of the IFL were started with the help of grant money from the Lilly Endowment. Now that the grant’s time frame is complete, the TEL will apply to the university for program funding. A new entity, the Academy for Teaching and Learning, which was established last year to provide professional development in teaching, may also begin providing help to faculty members who want to integrate faith in the class-room, according to the provost’s office. 

In addition to the IFL’s annual fall symposium, which draws hundreds of participants, the institute also co-directs a medical ethics conference each year, sponsors a retreat for new faculty, hosts reading groups each spring on faith and learning topics, provides “Vocation and Faculty Formation Grants” for faculty to do research or attend conferences on faith topics, and has provided one-time grants to faculty to pay dues in faith-based academic organizations. 

The IFL also sponsors the Crane Scholars Program, an initiative for academically excellent undergraduates interested in the connections between faith, learning, and vocation. This program recruits faculty to mentor students who have an interest in academic careers, aiming to cultivate a new generation of Christian scholars. Students participate during their sophomore, junior, and senior years and are involved in academic presentations, discussions of readings that are hosted in the homes of faculty members, and a yearly retreat. Each year some of the students travel to an academic conference. This past fall, fourteen Crane Scholars went to the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture’s annual conference. 

Research grants provided by the IFL recently have included one for religion professors to lead a seminar on vocation for ministry students and a grant to send a professor in the Honors College to a workshop on Bible for Victorians and complete a monograph about Victorian parables. Another Honors College professor attended two conferences to study theology and vocation. A teacher of foreign language was sent to a conference of the North Amer-ican Christian Foreign Language Association, where she presented a paper, and a philosophy professor presented a paper at the con-ference of the Baptist Association of Philosophy Teachers. 

None of the programs of the IFL are required for faculty or staff, Darin Davis told the Line, and the approach is simply one of pro-viding enrichment and encouragement. “All our programs are offered by way of encouragement,” Davis said. “So many faculty are trained at large research universities where matters of faith receive little attention as connected to the academic life. Considering how faith can inform teaching and scholarship can be quite new for some of them.”

While faculty may choose whether they will participate in university-sponsored faith-and-learning activities, Baylor’s provost said, they can also raise or entertain matters from a faith perspective in class. “Delicate topics are bound to come up in certain academic contexts,” Davis observed. She said Baylor professors are free to cover all subject matter relevant to their disciplines, even in dealing with issues such as abortion, stem cell research, evolution, or homo-sexuality. 

“When you talk about such issues, there’s going to be a scientific perspective,” she said. “But there will also be ethical issues and a Christian worldview which Baylor faculty are able to raise in the discussion.” Davis added, “If we don’t handle these issues here, in an environment where students are free to ask questions without ridicule, they will not be armed as they need to be to face these issues in the world.” 

Faculty focus 

One need look no further than Baylor’s many official publications and press releases to see numerous examples of faculty members who are directly combining faith with their academic pursuits. The Baylor Line has published stories on a poverty initiative in the School of Social Work, a researcher of gospel music, and the work of Baylor’s Institute for Studies in Religion—just in the past few issues. The university’s publications and press releases detail faculty projects such as research on volunteerism and faith development, grants for studies at churches, a nationwide survey on religious practices and opinions, seminars on Christian music, and nursing initiatives to take health care to underserved foreign countries. Baylor professors are being recognized nationwide with religious awards, such as the Christianity Today Book Awards, which honored three Baylor professors’ publications last year. 

But not all faculty research needs to be explicitly Christian to reflect Christian values, said Master Teacher and longtime professor of philosophy Dr. Robert Baird. Faith informing a faculty member’s professional life need not involve doing research on a religious topic or trying to relate every classroom subject to the Christian worldview, he said. 

Baird, a 1959 Baylor graduate who earned a master’s in phi-losophy at Baylor in 1961, later joined the faculty when Abner McCall was Baylor president. Baird recalled, “I can’t tell you how many times I heard Abner McCall say it: ‘Part of what it means to be a Christian university is that we treat one another with dignity and respect. That’s our Christian obligation. That was his repeated emphasis to those of us on the faculty in his day.” 

Baird, who served as chair of the philosophy department from 1987 to 2005, added that faculty members have an obligation “in our various ways to communicate to students our belief that the mind is one of God’s greatest gifts and that we are thus obligated to use our minds in disciplined and creative ways.” 

But Baird said that, several years ago, he became concerned that all prospective faculty members were being led to believe that their research must focus on some intersection between faith and their discipline. “To require such a professional integration of faith and one’s discipline of every faculty member would be too restrictive,” he said. “Such a direction was sometimes reflected in the questions put to potential faculty members.” He said he became aware of those questions in conversations with administrators, departmental chairs, and other faculty. 

“I was concerned that the integration agenda not be expressed in a way that precluded our hiring individuals who could come here, serve their disciplines well, serve our students well, and thereby serve Baylor well, but who were not particularly interested in integrating faith in their research,” Baird said. “Such integration of faith and one’s discipline can be done in ways that are intellectually rigorous and thus academically admirable, but that is a special calling, which I don’t think should be expected of all Baylor faculty.” 

He also said that the emphasis on faith and learning should not be understood as something new at Baylor. “From the time I came to Baylor as an undergraduate in the 1950s, that has always been a part of Baylor life,” he said. 

Baird said he has had a positive response to Baylor’s most recent efforts in the arena of faith and learning. “I think Baylor ought to provide unique opportunities for faculty who are profession-ally interested in integrating their Christian worldview and their discipline,” he said. “That can be valuable for the individual, for Baylor, and for the Christian community at large. It is also valuable for the broader academic community by contributing to the diversity and pluralism of higher education.” 

A newer faculty member, Dr. Lori Elmore Baker, is a good example of what Baird is talking about—a faculty member putting faith into practice but not necessarily putting it into her research per se. A 1993 Baylor graduate who earned an MA in anthropology in 1994, Baker was familiar with Baylor’s religious affiliation when she came to interview for a job in 2000. But she was a little bit apprehensive about whether she would be expected to present religious views about topics like evolution, which she covers in anthropology classes. 

“They said they expected me to cover evolution in anthropology,” she said. “Their primary concern was about how I would help students understand and reconcile science with their religious beliefs. They wanted to make sure I would be sensitive and caring to students when they heard things that would be controversial or contrary to their religious beliefs.” 

Baker also said she was sold on Baylor because the university was willing to support her new research project—collecting DNA samples from the bodies of illegal immigrants who had died and identifying the remains through matching them with family DNA. “It was kind of on the edge for a university to support that kind of research, because it had a risk of not having any academic output for a long time,” Baker said. But Baker’s work has already produced results, with nearly seventy individuals being identified. Compare that with the country’s missing persons database, which had iden-tified about a half a dozen people the last time Baker checked, and you can see the impact. 

While her research is not about religion, Baker said that it is very much directed by her faith. “My primary discipline is ancient DNA and trying to resurrect ancient societies through research,” she said. “While I find that fascinating—and so do ten other people in the world—when I do human rights work, I feel like I can make a contribution to people’s lives. It feels like I’m doing some-thing that is meaningful and that can directly affect someone who is living today.” 

Baker first became involved in this kind of forensic research when DNA labs, which were ill equipped for working with old DNA, would call for help with immigrant remains. “I’m good at getting DNA out of something that is three thousand years old, so getting DNA out of something that is three years old was not that challenging,” she said. In the meantime, “I realized that it was fulfilling and that it was something God wanted me to do. I can’t say that I love doing it, because I don’t; it is sad.” 

But Baker continues because it’s an important thing for her to do with her God-given talents, she said. 

In addition, she has been exercising her faith by serving as a leader for the Crane Scholars Program of the Institute for Faith and Learning, working with students who want to be academicians. “I don’t usually have the opportunity to think about spirituality with students,” she said. “In my courses, we don’t analyze St. Augustine; we talk about science. So this has been a different experience to read philosophy and discuss it with these students. They are so articu-late, directed, and aware. It is amazing that this group has brought them together and allowed them to meet with others who are leaders in spirituality and religion.” 

Dr. Dave Jortner is an even newer faculty member, starting at Baylor last fall. Jortner holds a tenure-track position in the theater department, while his wife is a lecturer in English. Like Baker, Jortner found Baylor’s approach to religion to be a healthy one, offering opportunity but not coercion. And that was especially important to Jortner, since he is one of Baylor’s few Jewish faculty members. 

“If this had been Liberty University, I would not have come,” he said, “because Liberty is doctrinal and not interested in inquiry. And I say that with knowledge because I grew up close to Liberty.” 

Yes, Jortner admitted, he had a few “reservations” before interviewing at Baylor, but they were quickly put to rest. “I was very touched by their making sure that I was comfortable here,” he said. “But I think that what people don’t understand is that, when you grow up Jewish in this country—anywhere out-side of New York—you grow up in a Christian world. At Baylor, people are just more open about it.” 

Jortner grew up in Blacksburg, Virginia, where his father still teaches at Virginia Tech. While there are more Jewish faculty members there, he said, the Jewish life in the community is richer in Waco, where there are two synagogues, rather than just one. Any reservations I may have had are by now almost completely gone,” he said. 

Jortner was warned that students might try to convert him, but it hasn’t happened yet, he said. “I was drawn here by the department and the supportive learning environment for students here, and both the faculty and students here are incredible,” he said. 

Jortner’s academic specialty and research focus is on twentieth-century Japanese theater, and he said his faith informs his teaching in a philosophical way. 

“In the Jewish faith, there is a real tradition of scholarly inquiry” he said. “There is almost as much of a sense of discussion as of a sermon. We are encouraged to talk about theological issues and to argue and discuss vigorously. That sense of inquiry certainly spills over into my professional life.” 

Secondly, he said, “The Jewish faith has a long history of the performing arts as celebratory, as a way of celebrating divinity. I see theater as my way to give back to the world, to create a little bit of beauty.” 

While theater may not sound religious to most people, Jortner sees a connection. “I think theater and religion are close,” he said. “In theater there is the idea of the discipline as a way to explore human nature and questions of existence.” 

As a person of faith, Jortner said, he appreciates being at a place where there is a “real discussion” of faith and faith practices. 

Taking advantage 

Providing that kind of open discussion is something that administrators see as a big advantage for Baylor on the national educational scene. 

Davis at the IFL said that he sees the institute’s role as pivotal in helping Baylor keep that edge. “I think of us as helping Baylor fulfill its promise. And the promise is two pronged—to be both academically excellent and to affirm and deepen the university’s Christian and Baptist identity. To help Baylor do those two things at once is our work.” 

Although those two goals are an unusual combination in higher education, Davis said the two should not conflict. “We are called as Christians to fully exercise our intellectual capacities; we’re called to love God with our whole mind,” he said. “So what we want to do is foster the kind of conversations and initiatives that would enable faculty and staff and students to see the life of the mind and the life of faith as united.” 

Davis said that, as a student at the University of Texas, he was encouraged to view scholarly inquiry as seeking the ideal of scientific objectivity. “But we ask questions from our own place in the world; there is no view from nowhere,” he said. “The risk of trying to step outside ourselves in this way is that faith commitments invariably get pushed to the side.” 

Davis said, “Baylor is uniquely situated to transform the lives of students intellectually, morally, and spiritually. This is the calling of a lifetime for faculty and staff, and it is the reason that so many students come here. They’re looking for a place where faith truly matters.”

Meg Cullar is news editor of the Baylor Line. 

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