Excerpt ... The title The Baptist and Christian Character of Baylor gives only a small clue about the vigorous, pitched debate and conversation, of both an intellectual and practical character, that animate this work. The pages that follow bear witness to a plan and a resulting controversy that have gripped the Baylor community in recent years. The papers of this collection, arising from a colloquy encounter in the Spring of 2003, describe, analyze, and critique a vision embodied in a plan that proposes an aggressive transformation of Baylor.
The much-lauded architect Daniel H. Burnham admonished us all to "dream no small dream, because it hath not the power to move men's souls." Be assured that the plan-described by many as brilliant and invigorating and by others as misguided and corrosive- has moved in some fashion the soul of virtually every man and woman within the Baylor community. It touches upon nearly every aspect of the University in all of its embodiments, functions, and objectives. The plan, called "Baylor 2012," gazes out over a span of about a dozen years-from the point of the plan's development and conceptualization in 2000 and 2001, to its anticipated culmination in 2012-and envisions a Baylor of a higher and sharper profile.
The conversation and the controversy have unfolded against a backdrop that must necessarily inform any meaningful understanding of Baylor. Thus, some background is in order. The university was chartered in 1845 and has for over a century and a half been guided by its mission to provide Christian higher education. The mission statement proclaims that
Baylor is founded on the belief that God's nature is made known through both revealed and discovered truth. Thus, the University derives its understanding of God, humanity, and nature from many sources: the person and work of Jesus Christ, the biblical record, and Christian history and tradition, as well as scholarly and artistic endeavors.
The statement then adds: "[w]ithout imposing religious conformity,Baylor expects the members of its community to support its mission."