Baylor Welcomes Dr. Burt Burleson as University Chaplain

Sept. 11, 2007
News Photo 4257Dr. Burt L. Burleson

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

Dr. Dub Oliver, vice president for student life at Baylor University, announced today that the search committee charged with selecting Baylor's university chaplain has unanimously chosen Dr. Burt L. Burleson, a 1980 Baylor graduate and pastor of DaySpring Baptist Church in Waco, to serve in the position, effective Oct. 1.

As university chaplain, Burleson will provide Baylor students, faculty and staff with administrative, symbolic and spiritual leadership for a university community that values its Christian identity and aspires to more fully integrate the intellectual and spiritual life of students. As chaplain and dean for university ministries, he will work to nurture common ground for students, faculty and staff to explore issues of faith, deepen Christian commitments, and offer and receive care in times of need.

He succeeds Dr. Byron Weathersbee, who served as interim chaplain from August 2005 to May 2007, and Dr. Todd L. Lake, who served as Baylor's chaplain from 1999-2005 before becoming vice president for spiritual development at Belmont University.

"Burt Burleson is a gifted minister and preacher, who brings considerable creativity, understanding of spiritual formation, and pastoral care to this role," Oliver said. "We are thankful to the Lord for His leading us to Burt and for Burt's openness to serving his alma mater in this significant and important way."

"To say I'm excited about this opportunity and new place of service would be a great understatement," Burleson said. "I love Baylor and I love what I do, and the thought of expressing my calling at Baylor is just overwhelming. I can't wait to begin and I'm so thankful for the confirming sense of clarity and joy we've felt as this process has unfolded."

Burleson will be responsible for helping students to explore their spiritual gifts, God-given strengths and vocational calling. He will oversee several ministry programs, including Chapel, resident chaplains, Christian campus ministries, mission opportunities including the engagement of faculty in strengthening discipline-specific mission trips, and campus dialogues about faith, learning, vocation and life.

Burleson earned his bachelor's degree in sociology and business from Baylor in 1980, a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1985 and his doctor of ministry degree with a concentration in Christian nurture from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1992. He also received training in pastoral counseling at Samaritan Counseling Center of the Bay Area from 1987-89.

Burleson has served as pastor of DaySpring Baptist Church in Waco since 1995 and as a part-time therapist at the Samaritan Counseling Center of Central Texas from 1995-96 and 1998-2000. He also has extensive experience ministering to students, youth and adults, serving as minister of university students and single adults at Pioneer Drive Baptist Church in Abilene from 1993-95, minister of counseling and family life at Willow Meadows Baptist Church in Houston from 1991-93 and minister to students (youth and college) from 1983-90, minister of youth at Garden Oaks Baptist Church in Houston in 1982-83, and minister of youth at Lake Highlands Baptist Church in Dallas from 1980-82.

Burleson and his wife, Julie, have two children, Abby and Brandt.

Burleson was named a finalist for the position two weeks ago and came to campus on Sept. 6 for interviews with various constituent groups. He also gave an open presentation to the campus community on "Nurturing the Spiritual Formation of Students Within the Context of Diverse Constituencies at Baylor." The search committee met on Monday night and unanimously approved Burleson's selection as chaplain.

The university chaplain search committee led by Oliver included Dr. Jeter Basden, religion; Elisa Dunman, new student programs; Dr. Scott Moore, Great Texts; Travis Plummer, student body president and a senior biology major from San Antonio; Ryan Richardson, youth programs; Olga Rodriguez, a senior biochemistry major from Eagle Pass; and Christie Soparas, resident chaplain and second-year student at George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

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