'God On The Quad' Author Discusses Religious Higher Education During Lecture Series

Feb. 14, 2005

by Amanda Lewis, Student Newswriter

Baylor University's Institute of Faith and Learning hosted author Naomi Schaefer Riley at its monthly brown bag luncheon on Feb. 10 in Morrison Constitution Hall, where she discussed her book, God on the Quad: How Religious Colleges and the Missionary Generation Are Changing America.

Riley studied the curriculum, administration and student body at 20 religious educational institutions, including Baylor, and compiled her observations in God on the Quad to explain the rising popularity of these private colleges. She not only sought information from universities of her own Jewish faith, but Riley also observed schools of other affiliations, including Mormon, fundamentalist Protestant, Catholic and Baptist.

During her presentation, she pointed out the benefits available to scholars attending these universities, including the integration of faith and learning. Riley used Baylor as a model for the concept after visiting the campus in the spring of 2002.

"To an outsider, [Baylor] looked like a school that was so serious about its mission. That is somewhat refreshing to find at any college," Riley said. "The faculty seems to be very passionate about the direction the school is heading."

Her research indicates that sought-after high school students are choosing to attend these religious colleges over other prestigious universities because of the nurturing moral environment they offer their students. She also found that students of other faiths chose to attend religious institutions for the calm academic atmosphere, despite their difference in beliefs.

"By adding a sense of intellectual depth, students are getting something that is much more likely to last," she said. "Any time you can help them see how their own experiences are relevant to what they are studying helps them get more out of it."

Referring to current college students as the "missionary generation," Riley believes they are looking to pursue secular careers into which they can incorporate their faith.

While some students do study to become religious leaders, she said that many are looking for a way to evangelize from inside the working world.

"I do think the students I spoke to at Baylor seemed to have a strong idea of vocation. They certainly felt that they were receiving a competent education."

A 1998 magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University, Riley is an adjunct fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and the editor of the new journal "In Character." She is a contributing writer at "The American Enterprise" and a frequent contributor to the "Wall Street Journal," the "Boston Globe" and "National Review." Her articles have also appeared in the "Weekly Standard," the "New Republic," "Commentary," "Crisis," the "Public Interest" and "New Things."

Looking for more news from Baylor University?