Dr. Larry LyonProfessor of Sociology and Dean of the Graduate School
Dr. Larry Lyon is both a professor of sociology and the dean of the Graduate School. He graduated from Baylor in 1971 and received his PhD from the University of Texas in 1975. Baylor has always been a large part of his life. His father graduated from Baylor, as did his daughters. "Baylor has provided three generations of my family with high quality educations that have allowed us to achieve whatever we set out to achieve," says Dr. Lyon, "and with 2012, we will be able to ensure that this continues in the future."
Dr. Lyon is unapologetically enthusiastic about the direction in which the university is heading with 2012 as its roadmap. "I cannot imagine anything more positive for Baylor than 2012; not only for graduate education, but for the entire campus community," he says. He believes that 2012 is the most important experiment in higher education in recent memory. Dr. Lyon is definitely someone who knows how schools like Baylor are dealing with the increasing demands to keep up in the fast moving world of higher education. Over the past several years he has published numerous papers and articles on just this topic. "The improvements to higher education are occurring all across the nation. If Baylor does not strive to move forward," Dr Lyon observes, "we will be left behind."
His excitement is due in part to the increased support for faculty research ushered in by 2012. Dr. Lyon believes that this strengthened commitment to research has revitalized his own ability to actively discover, learn and then share what he has learned with his students, or even to include them in the process of discovery. "The tradition of world-class teaching at Baylor is in no way diminished by a more deliberate research agenda," says Dr. Lyon. In fact, he believes that this commitment provides an environment of more active learning-where undergraduate and graduate students learn in a hands-on environment.
Dr. Lyon believes that, beyond the increased support for research, there are many benefits associated with 2012. He cites smaller class sizes, additional faculty who are leaders in their fields of study and impressive new facilities as some of the more tangible benefits. But what excites Dr. Lyon most is that 2012 ensures that Baylor students, faculty and alumni will have a seat at the table for the crucial national conversations that are occurring on topics such as abortion, women's rights, work place conditions, the environment, cloning and stem cell research. "It is imperative that thoughtful Christian views be expressed and heard on a continual and respectful basis," Dr. Lyon says, "I want nothing less than for Baylor to be a discussant at the table of critical national and international conversations and for Baylor to be the vehicle by which Protestant Free Church ideas are added to the dialog."
The resources provided by 2012 promise that faculty and students will have the opportunity to be such voices and that they will be voices that are not only heard, but also make an impact. Attracting and retaining world-class faculty who are comfortable in their faith and providing them with the proper resources in part accomplish this.
For the past several years, Dr. Lyon has sat in on all faculty interviews for the 15 doctoral-granting departments. Each year he has grown more impressed with the quality of the faculty hired. This has occurred even as a more deliberate discussion regarding the role of faith in serious education has increased. He says, "At first, one might think that Baylor's faith-based mission would work against the goal of hiring top-flight faculty. But, in fact, it works just the opposite. The faith component is actually the difference maker for the faculty between other prestigious schools and Baylor." Dr. Lyon wishes that more people could observe this first hand as he has. He is also excited at how successful 2012 has been as a recruitment tool, referencing a recent American Sociological Association meeting where discussions about 2012 have begun to set Baylor apart from other institutions.
With all his enthusiasm about where 2012 is taking Baylor, Dr. Lyon is quick to note that this great effort is only made possible because of the strong groundwork built over Baylor's first 118 years saying, "Because of our history of excellence, we have the foundation on which to build. We are simply continuing to ensure that Baylor offers a top flight education relevant to the world that lies ahead."