Sacred. The word came to mind frequently as we prepared this issue, with features on Christian music studies (page 30) and students' spiritual development (page 38). But it also goes beyond those obviously religious subjects into most every realm of the University.
By definition, sacred refers to "something set apart or dedicated for a holy purpose, connected to God, for use by God, or for God's glory." At Baylor's core from its earliest days has been that connection to a holy purpose, to something sacred.
The motto on Baylor's official seal--"Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana"--defines the scope of what this great University was created to be: "For Church, For Texas." The second half of that motto has expanded well beyond the borders of what was then the Republic of Texas to welcome students from all across the country and even around the world, while the first half is still central to Baylor's identity as it is defined in the University's mission statement: "to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community."
Baylor 2012, the 10-year vision of the University now in its sixth year, seeks to advance that mission even further by leading Baylor into "the top tier of American universities while reaffirming and deepening its distinctive Christian mission."
What a powerful combination! An institution of higher learning that equips young people to impact the world as leaders in business, science, education and entertainment, not only with the knowledge and skill to be the best, but with compassion and commitment to serve the least.
That shows through in much of what's going on at Baylor. The University's new emphasis on environmental research (page 24) and recycling (page 9) boils down to a desire to be good stewards of the Earth God has given us. Other efforts, like the Baylor Autism Resource Center (page 11) and student-led charity fundraisers (page 14), illustrate the University's attitude toward service. And of course, we still like to see our academic work recognized by organizations outside our community, be that in award-winning students and professors (pages 7 and 11) or national rankings from U.S. News and BusinessWeek (page 8).
This past month, I sat in the home of a professor with a number of his students and listened to the testimony of a pastor from a small village in India. The professor followed with his own testimony and an invitation to join him on an upcoming mission trip to this pastor's village. This wasn't a religion class, or a course on world missions, but a professor of neuroscience, sharing his home, his life, and his own commitment to the cause of Christ with his students.
As you read this issue, I hope you will see other examples of how Baylor is taking seriously its commitment to "integrate academic excellence and Christian commitment."
That, too, is something sacred.
Director, Baylor Magazine