Named in honor of William Carey Crane, the fourth president of Baylor, the Crane Scholars Program is an intensive program for Baylor undergraduates sponsored by the Institute for Faith and Learning that encourages and supports gifted students who are interested in connections between faith and reason. The program seeks to identify and mentor students who are considering graduate school and careers in academic life in particular, though not all Cranes pursue a vocation in the academy. Whether a student's path leads to higher education or some other profession, the aim is to help cultivate the next generation of Christian scholars and professionals with a sense of vocation.
The program convenes dinners, seminars, and retreats in an effort to foster intellectually rich discussions about faith and scholarly inquiry as students are introduced to leading Christian scholars and their writings. In addition, the program seeks to provide resources and guidance to students applying to graduate programs in a variety of academic disciplines.
Above all, the Crane Scholars Program invites students to think of an academic or professional career as a form of Christian service or a vocatio, a religious vocation. Christian historian Nathan Hatch has written, "College faculty and administrators have no greater responsibility than to nurture a new generation of Christian thinkers. This means going the second mile to shepherd the young people who have the potential to be the next generation of Christian scholars. In an age when fewer of our very best students are willing to make the sacrifices required of an academic career, we must lead them to take up the calling of teaching and scholarship." No less is this true for those whose vocation leads outside of the academy. The Crane Scholars Program seeks to fulfill Baylor's responsibility to provide its best students an opportunity to explore and prepare for service in the Christian academy and to the world.
Students who elect to enter the program must meet high academic standards and develop habits of study and research.
Graduates from the 2017 class will pursue various opportunities. Three will begin teaching careers, serving in both private and public schools. One will begin medical school at Baylor College of Medicine, while two others enter gap year programs before beginning medical school (one in bioethics at the John Paul II Institute and the other in the Theology, Medicine and Culture program at Duke Divinity School). Five other students will begin graduate programs (MA and PhD) in classics, theology, physics, math, and higher education administration. They will study at the University of Oxford, Baylor University, the University of Colorado, Rice University, and Duke University. Finally, a Crane graduate will begin working as an engineer at the Department of Energy.
Over the past several years, five Crane Scholar alums have been accepted into the highly regarded Lilly Graduate Fellows Program.