Thomas L. Charlton continues to divide time between the department and the Baylor administration. For the department, in addition to teaching sections of Texas history, he is collaborating with other historians in developing a public history graduate emphasis. For the university, he serves as vice Provost for Administration, with special duties related to development of the Baylor proposal to become the host site of the future George Walker Bush Presidential Library Center. He is also acting director of the American Studies Program during the 2002-2003 academic year.
I graduated from Baylor in December 1984. Your office was one of the last places I stopped on my way out of town. As I left, you said to me, "When you've had time to reflect on it, write me and tell me what your education has meant to you." I wrote you with an answer within about six months. At the time that seemed like an eternity and I was sure I had quite a perspective on the value of my undergraduate education. Nearly 18 years later I am a professor of Political Science & Justice Studies at a mid-sized college in Kansas where I have been asked to address the Arts & Sciences honor graduates at a reception next week. My Dean asked me to comment upon the value of a liberal arts education. As I prepared for the presentation your parting words to me became the corner stone for my talk. I thought, perhaps, you would enjoy reading the speech and hearing my response to your question from the vantage point of these 18 years.
I hope that your term has ended well. I greatly enjoyed getting to talk to you during our short trip through Waco in August. That was our first visit back to the campus since graduation--actually we have driven through a couple of times on weekend evenings but have not gotten a chance to talk to anyone. I truly treasure my experiences at Baylor, and the history department has had a tremendous impact on my life.
When Dean Faber asked me to give the address at this afternoon's reception, I found myself thinking about one of my professor's parting words when I graduated. I had just taken my last undergraduate exam in a class on the American Presidency. I remember handing in that ink filled blue book and leaving the classroom with conflicting feelings. I was excited about the future and anxious to move on to the next step in my life, but I was also sad to see the end of what had been four pretty terrific years. On my way out of the building I stopped in to say goodbye to Dr. Campbell. As I left his office he said to me, "When you've had time to reflect on it, write to me and let me know what your undergraduate education meant to you."