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2006 Faculty Retreat


On May 15-19 the Institute hosted Vocation, Liberal Learning, and the Professions, a retreat for Baylor's chairs, deans, and senior academic administrators held at Laity Lodge, near Leakey, Texas. The retreat included over 40 faculty members, including President John Lilley and Provost Randall O'Brien. As part of the week-long program Mark Schwehn, Professor of Humanities and Dean Emeritus of Christ College at Valparaiso University delivered two lectures, "Recapturing the Concept of Vocation: Why It Matters for the Christian University" and "Exiles from Eden: Enjoying Christian Community and Intellectual Friendship." Elizabeth Newman, Professor of Theology and Ethics at Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond delivered two lectures as well, "The Church's Stake in the Academic Vocation: A Different Faith, Hope, and Love" and "When Difference Divides: Embodying Charity and Humility through Christian Hospitality." And Thomas Smith, Associate Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Department of Humanities at Villanova University, spoke on "Teaching as a Christian Vocation" and "Academic Administration as a Christian Vocation." Burt Burleson, pastor of Waco's DaySpring Baptist Church, led morning and evening worship services each day of the retreat.

The retreat sought to deepen participants' understanding of the theological exploration of vocation, to explore the implications of Christian calling for academic life in both its teaching and scholarly dimensions, and to enhance faculty readiness to help mentor students effectively in discerning and responding to their own Christian vocation. It also represented an opportunity to acquaint diverse faculty with one another, facilitate understanding and trust across varied disciplines and denominational perspectives, and initiate new friendships in a context of charitable discourse and cooperation. Perhaps more pastorally, the retreat program was designed to encourage the renewal possible through solitude with God and prompt thoughtful faith through a simple yet rich daily liturgy.

Participant responses were highly positive, with various chairs, deans, and provosts offering such comments as: "The ability to relax and laugh about our shared frustrations or joys was especially meaningful," "Each speaker brought wisdom and commitment to their presentations," "This was the best organized retreat in all aspects [in which] I have participated in my professional life," "I came away with a renewed sense of vocation for myself," and "Not only did the presentations and discussions provide a richer Christian conceptual scheme for our future discussions, the retreat format provided many opportunities to build relationships of common interest and trust to continue discussions and to enhance collegiality on campus."