June 23, 2005
Calling the administrators before him "the most creative voices in Baptist life today," Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. applauded a collaborative arrangement among Baylor's new School of Social Work, the Baptist University of the Americas (BUA) in San Antonio and Buckner Baptist Benevolences.
The initiative was announced April 18 at George W. Truett Theological Seminary, and the leaders Sloan referred to were Baylor's School of Social Work Dean Diana Garland, BUA President Albert Reyes and Buckner President Kenneth Hall.
Through the collaboration, BUA will develop a minor in social work with future plans to develop an associate degree in social work serving as a "pipeline," as Reyes called it, for students to pursue graduate study at Baylor. The School of Social Work, to which the Board of Regents granted independent status last November, will make available consultation and a faculty exchange with BUA. Buckner will provide BUA a faculty member -- Patty Villareal, an alumna of the former Carver School of Church Social Work.
"We are seeking to increase the diversity of our student body and of our faculty, and this is a wonderful partnership to that end," Garland said. "We need to provide leaders for Hispanic communities and congregations, and this is an outstanding way to accomplish that."
BUA President Reyes agreed. "Demographers predict Texas' population to grow by 30 million in the next 40 years. And 96 percent of that growth will come from non-Anglo populations -- mostly Hispanics. BUA students are prepared to serve in that multicultural future," he said.
Many of the students will be dual-degree graduate students in social work and theology or divinity from Baylor's Truett Seminary.
"Many of BUA's students are international students who will return to Central and South America. This is a wonderful way to provide persons with the knowledge and skills for work within their home communities," Garland said.
Buckner President Hall said the partnership is "all about meeting needs. Worldwide issues affecting children and families should be the concern and responsibility of caring Christians. We need to start allocating resources -- including the resources of dedicated, committed, highly trained Christian social workers -- to help meet those needs."
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