Dr. Thomas KiddAssistant Professor of History
Dr. Thomas Kidd arrived at Baylor by way of Notre Dame just over a year ago. He is currently contracted with Yale University Press to produce what could prove to be the definitive book on the First Great Awakening. To say the least, the research required to develop such a work is time consuming. So the question arises: Does such an effort detract from the quality of his teaching? Dr. Kidd thinks not. As an assistant professor of History with a passion for both research and teaching, Dr. Kidd was drawn to Baylor, in large part, because of the initiatives set forth in Baylor 2012 directing the University toward an increased emphasis on research, while maintaining its rich heritage as a Christian university invested in the lives of its students. While some feel the two priorities are at odds, Dr. Kidd believes that his ongoing research programs help him in the classroom. Through active involvement in research and evolving course studies, Dr. Kidd maintains an enthusiasm that helps to foster a more intimate and engaging environment for his students. More specifically, Dr. Kidd says, "A lot of the things that I talk to my students about (with relation to ongoing research) help me to conceptualize an issue, and in the process, engage and excite my students about the material we are covering in class."
Dr. Kidd does not see teaching and research as an "either/or" proposition, but rather, one that provides significant opportunity for teacher-student interaction. It is a chance, he says, "to invest deeply in the lives of students." In fact, in his year at Baylor, Dr. Kidd feels that he has already developed a number of strong bonds with students. Together, they are not only bringing new ideas to life, they are developing relationships. A case in point: Dr. Kidd will be working during the course of the next year with a senior who wants to pursue a PhD in history. They will be conducting research for Dr. Kidd's upcoming book on the First Great Awakening. In the process, Dr. Kidd feels that this opportunity will aid not only in this student's conceptualization of historical issues, but also in his own professional development.
While Baylor and its students will certainly continue to benefit from Dr. Kidd's enthusiasm, he believes that higher education will profit enormously through Baylor's goals for 2012, saying "The vision is ambitious, to say the least. And I think that there is a real niche to be filled for a Christian research university, particularly in the Protestant tradition. There are a lot of Christian schools, but there are very few-if any-top-flight research universities that have a Christian commitment central to their mission."
Dr. Kidd is thankful that Baylor has afforded him the resources necessary to fulfill many of his personal and professional goals. At Baylor, he is not only given support for his research and teaching endeavors, but he also feels free to embrace his Christian faith in a community that shares, rather than compartmentalizes a spiritual identity. Needless to say, Dr. Thomas Kidd is encouraged by the vision iterated in Baylor 2012.