When the 10-year Vision was unveiled in 2001, it challenged the Graduate School to develop "Christian scholarship of the highest order." The mandate was clear:
- Have at least 10 doctoral programs in the social sciences and humanities.
- Focus the research of graduate programs in specialized niches: theology; moral philosophy; literature; the ethics of research, business and health care; democracy and civil society; and the integration of Christianity with education, social work, nursing and psychotherapy.
- Be more productive in doctoral output, research and external funding in the eight existing doctoral programs in science and mathematics, focusing science programs around the environment and the health sciences.
- Achieve a critical mass of doctoral students, with a universitywide benchmark of at least two or three doctoral graduates per year per program.
Doctor of Science In Physical Therapy
Sociology (expanded & renamed)
Exercise, Nutrition & Preventive Health
A tall order. How is the University doing? Five doctoral programs have been added since 2000-01 (see chart) and at least two more -- in political science and church music -- are in various stages of approval.
Looking at the goals set out in 2012, Graduate School Dean Larry Lyon says he is comfortable with the progress in his division, although it doesn't translate neatly into an "items accomplished" checklist. For now, qualitative progress may take precedence over quantitative, postponing some of the new doctoral programs originally envisioned, he says. "It seems to me that the need to enhance existing doctoral programs is at least as great if not greater than the need to add new ones."
He points to these recent accomplishments:
- In sociology's PhD program, the sociology of religion concentration went from 0 to 7 graduate students and now is probably among the top five such programs in the nation.
- The doctoral programs in English, religion and philosophy recruit larger and stronger graduate classes every year.
- The master's program in history began an innovative policy of one-to-one faculty/graduate student mentoring.
- Political science has brought in as its new department chair Mary Nichols from Fordham University to help build a doctoral program in political theory.
- The graduate program in physical therapy moved up to No. 5 in the nation, according to the most recent U.S.News & World Report rankings.
- Recent faculty hires with scholarly reputations sufficient to attract top-quality doctoral students to their programs have included Stephen Evans, University Professor of Philosophy and Humanities, in philosophy; Stephen Prickett, director of the Armstrong Browning Library, a chair holder and a visiting professor, in English; Steve Driese, professor and chair, in geology; Rodney Stark, University Professor of Social Sciences, in sociology; and Bennie Ward, chair and Distinguished Professor, in physics.
"There is no chicken-and-egg dilemma," Lyon says. "It's very clear what has to come first. The quality faculty has to come in order to really ramp up graduate student recruitment."
He expects this to be a breakout year in recruitment in biology, chemistry, physics and geology. Why? The $100 million Baylor Sciences Building. "The new science building is going to be a wonderful recruiting tool for our graduate students in the sciences. There's just no doubt about it. It's already helped us recruit science faculty; it's about to help for graduate students as well."
As evidence of this, he notes that the museum studies graduate program just recruited its largest and strongest class "due in no small part to the new Mayborn Museum Complex."
Lyon, who helped draft the 2012 language about expectations for Graduate Studies, realizes Baylor isn't adding new programs or graduate students as rapidly as desired, but he sees it as a compromise he's willing to make.
"You can look at the pipeline and see that we're moving in the right direction. We could increase the size, but it would be at the cost of quality. We're making a good trade-off, and the result is the strongest set of graduate programs Baylor has ever had."