Letters From Our Readers

June 27, 2005


The story on the Agape Clinic is pre-sented so well! I am a TWU nurse practitioner student who has been deeply touched by both the staff and the patients. My experience at the Agape Clinic has moved me and motivated me in ways that are difficult to describe. Mr. [Charles] Kemp is such a good role model for us as we all realize the need to serve those who are less fortunate. The mission of the Agape Clinic basically follows the teaching in Matthew 25 ("Whatsoever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me"), and serves as a vital resource to those in the community. Thank you for running this story!
Kelley Berberich
Texas Woman's University, Dallas, Texas

Thanks for sending Baylor Magazine. I have enjoyed your objective reporting. The February issue was particularly interesting. "Academic & Religious Freedom," "A Question of Leadership" and "Identity Crisis" raised several questions in my mind. I have not been associated with Baylor since the 1950s, but I have taught at both public and Baptist institutions since that time. After reading the three stories noted above, it appears to me that the administration is not responding to "faculty diversity," but to the increased political conservatism and religious fundamentalism of American society. If you want to preserve Baylor's Christian heritage, which I believe is a worthy goal, then look to the history of the University, not to political and religious trends in the nation. I majored in philosophy at Baylor in the 1950s, taking classes with Bobby Baird, and I would tend to trust his judgment and his commitment to the school. I believe that the Baylor faculty was diverse in that decade. The philosophy and history professors challenged our developing minds with the great questions of life -- and religion. The question of "academic and religious freedom" at Baylor is the ultimate one. Listen to the voices of experience in making your decisions.
Calvin Dickinson, BA '60, MA '6l
Cookeville, Tenn.

I was disappointed to see that those who wanted Dr. Sloan's head on a platter finally got their wish. As the fervor for change intensified over the last few years, I suppose it was inevitable that a change would happen, but seeing it coming and agreeing with it are two different things.
I believe that it's only when one has been out of school for several years that it's possible to look at Baylor from a rather detached view, as opposed to the years spent on campus. I've been out for 30 years now, and it's been my experience that Baylor is viewed as a good place to go to school if you want to be a teacher, accountant, lawyer, preacher or a doctor ... but it will never be confused with a tier-one university that can take its place among the more esteemed institutions of higher learning. 
With the recent actions that led to Dr. Sloan's vacating the office, Baylor has assured itself of a solid lock on its previous stature among other schools ... a great place to go for the 13th, 14th, 15th and 16th grades ... but don't call it a great university. 
The great ones recognize that incurring debt when interest rates are at historic lows isn't such a bad idea, especially if growth to keep up with cutting-edge technology and learning is at stake. The great ones understand that a faculty that doesn't want to keep up with their peers in research will never attract the best and the brightest. And finally, the great ones realize that following a mission statement that declares that Christianity and education in the modern world are not mutually exclusive isn't such a bad idea. If Baylor doesn't do that, who will?
Ken Murdock, BA '74, MBA '75
Arlington, Texas

The articles by Vicki Marsh Kabat in the February Baylor Magazine provide some of the best coverage I have read on the current controversy at Baylor between the faculty and President Sloan's administration.
These articles are especially clear and succinct in putting both sides of the issues in perspective and should certainly help not only those of us who are not on the campus, but many who are, to have a better understanding of the differences that have led to the resignation of President Sloan. Hopefully, they will also help all who are now charged with the responsibility of moving forward and guiding Baylor as it faces the future challenges of being a university that honors its religious heritage in the 21st century.
Thanks for some very good articles on some complicated issues.
Blanche Brick, BA '61
Division Chair, Social Sciences, Blinn College, Bryan, Texas

I was glad to see Dr. Sloan step down as president and move into a role in which he may well be more productive. It was very wise of him to see that the healing Baylor needs would not come under his leadership. As the great Sam Rayburn put it: "You either lead by persuasion or you don't lead at all." Dr. Sloan had ceased to be able to persuade. Now it's time for the faculty, staff and administration to cease feuding and get on with the business God called Baylor to do: educate students in a distinctively Christian setting.
Estelle Owens, MA '73
Plainview, Texas

I would be remiss if I did not commend you and your staff on an excellent February 2005 edition of Baylor Magazine, so kudos to you. However, I need to confess that one simple picture in the issue motivated me to write: namely, the picture of Donna Herbert on page 17 under "Accolade: Staff Profile."
 I hardly know why Donna's picture struck me the way it did. Since I've spent a lifetime in Christian publishing (as author, editor, publisher), perhaps the picture had something to do with the words that explained the picture. ...
I don't know when I've seen such a genuine smile let us look into the soul of a person tired from work but joyfully glad to have done the work and be doing it. The hair is a little mussed, the nails aren't polished, the clasped hands are relaxed and Donna's look made me a friend though we'll probably never meet. 
Johnnie Godwin, BA '59
Gallatin, Tenn.

I was at Baylor for pre-med and received a BS in '55 for which I'm grateful.
Changes, even though my wife and I watched three children go to Baylor, have been mind-boggling. I wonder if the "healthy, wealthy, and wise" caption used in Departments typifies the attitude that is pervasive at Baylor? Where is the evidence of humble pride?
William Henry Ray, BS '55, MD
Tyler, Texas

P.S. Dr. Sloan is one of my heroes.

Regarding [the] three articles you wrote in this issue [February] ... As an alum and former Baptist student at Baylor,
I was greatly distressed to hear about the upheaval going on at the University. There seems to be great angst as to whether Baylor is going to continue to stress its Baptist heritage as opposed to focusing more on being a Christian university or becoming more of an academic-focused university.
I was raised as a Baptist, and one of the most important reasons for choosing Baylor over Texas A&M ... was because of the dedication and focus of its Baptist roots. Anyone who attended Baylor knew that it was the largest Baptist University in the world, and along with that came a devotion to that religion. Having visited numerous college campuses before, during and after college, there was always a certain goodness about Baylor that you didn't find at other schools - even those that were "Christian universities."
I think it is critical to the uniqueness, specialness and godliness of Baylor that it remain undaunted by the pressures of the outside world. That is one of the strengths of the Baptist religion and of this University. I understand that President Sloan has resigned under the heat of faculty pressure. It is sad that our faculty would create such a divisive atmosphere among its students and Baylor family that leads to such things. 
I strongly believe and pray that the leaders of Baylor will re-examine what is at the heart of this university - a family of Baptists (and others) whose goal in life focuses on the things we learned as freshmen in Welcome Week and the wheel that contains Christ at the center (I have no idea what happened to my old T-shirt that aptly spelled out the other "spokes" on that wheel).
... I realize that what is going on is much bigger than what I have to say, but as a proud alumna of Baylor, I could not sit by and not voice my opinion. I am sure there are hundreds, if not thousands, who will not respond but will feel the same way. 
Laura J. Beckman, BA '90, JD
Houston, Texas

Where on the site can I find the text of the 2012 Mission Statement? Not successful in my search. Thanks! Your personal coverage (two articles) in the current magazine are very helpful, well written and balanced -- as best I can determine. You provided some insights I had not understood from personal friends and previous coverage in newspapers, magazine, etc. I trust the "transition" in leadership will permit Baylor to recapture and "move forward" to an impressive place of excellency in "Christian Higher Education."
John B Hiott, BA '51
Raleigh, NC

[Visit www.baylor.edu/vision for current updates on Baylor 2012 - Ed.]

Your articles in the recently received Baylor Magazine are outstanding and have great insight. I have been "studying it" from when I first received it and can find answers to many concerns of mine; i.e., role of Christian schools in future, what are Baptists, etc.
Thanks for a great edition!
Patsy Vaughan Pentecost, BBA '52
Port Lavaca, Texas

In 1994 my husband and I adopted the cutest, brightest and most brilliant 1-year-old boy in the world. Being a proud mother who worked at a state college (not in Texas), our son's higher education was already on my mind. Only the best for our boy!
Having met my husband in a Spanish class in Old Main in 1984, I was immediately dreaming of the "Baylor Experience" for our son. The only bad part of the dream was the uncertainty if Baylor would continue to be a strong, evangelical, biblically based school. I wrote President Sloan (then still new in the job) and told him I lived in a state where students who graduated from high school with a B average or better could attend a state school free. I implored him to make sure Baylor was a distinctly Christian place to send my son ... where he would receive a great education from a Christian worldview. Otherwise, I said, I would see no reason to send our greatest blessing a thousand miles away and pay all that additional money for something he could get near home.
I never communicated with Dr. Sloan again, but when Baylor 2012 was unveiled, I was certain Dr. Sloan had my letter in mind! It was exactly what my husband and I thought Baylor needed.
As graduating seniors, my husband and I had commented that there was a need for a top-notch academic evangelical, Christian school. Working in higher education, I saw the incredible vacuum of influence evangelical Christian schools were making in the academic debate of key issues in our culture. I also realized the incredible academic pull that says to be intellectual requires one to absolve himself of all truths -- and especially biblical truths!
 I applaud you, Dr. Sloan, for your vision and efforts. I took our son and daughter to visit the campus for the first time this past summer. I was impressed with what you have led our alma mater to accomplish in the time you've been there. With you at the helm, I felt comfortable that Baylor would indeed be a place I would be willing to make the necessary sacrifices to send our children.
 I am deeply disappointed to learn of your resignation. I can only shake my head and wonder if Baptist university presidents are like Baptist pastors. Some 70 percent of pastors who lead churches through major building campaigns and/or structural changes end up having to leave when it is accomplished. (Believe me, being the wife of a Baptist pastor leading a church through a $6 million building campaign, I have paid close attention to this figure.)
 You had fueled the fire in me for Baylor. Dr. Sloan, I pray you can continue to stoke it from your new position. I can only imagine how emotionally tired you and your wife must be. I thank you for the personal sacrifices you made to help create and sustain the Baylor I asked you to ensure for my children. I know it's hard to be a leader. You have led well.
 Baylor regents and trustees, I implore you as I did Dr. Sloan in 1994: Increase Baylor's Christian character and intellectual standing. It can be done. It should be done. Our world desperately needs a university that can train men and women to compete intellectually with the best and still have a Christian worldview. Don't give up now. Give us a president who will be as strong in implementing Baylor 2012 as Sloan was in creating and endorsing it. Make Baylor the kind of school I will be proud to send our greatest joys (our children) far away from home to attend.
Thankful for Dr. Sloan,
Martha Tyree Clark, BA '86, MA '87
Tallahassee, Fla.

The February 2005 edition of Baylor Magazine (published by Baylor's Office of Public Relations) included a book review by guest contributor Robert Darden, senior editor of The Wittenburg Door magazine (a magazine whose stated mission is "to deflate pompous individuals, movements and institutions from any religious persuasion that take themselves too seriously"). The opening sentence of Mr. Darden's book review reads: "I'm not much of a fan of the Apostle Paul." I wonder if Mr. Darden considers Paul one of those "pompous individuals" who took himself "too seriously" about trivial topics like sin and salvation or heaven and hell.
I don't mind hearing, reading or considering opinions and viewpoints that differ from mine. But it is sad when liberal voices -- like Mr. Darden's -- speak with Baylor's approval (either tacit or expressed). And we wonder why Baylor is having an identity crisis! Perhaps Baylor ought to be more concerned with the "truth" than with "public relations."
As for me and my household of Gentiles, we are big fans of Paul. If you're not a fan of Paul, read Acts and Romans. If you're still not a big fan, keep reading Acts and Romans until you are. 
David Skeels, JD '03
Fort Worth, Texas

Your three articles in the February issue of Baylor Magazine about the issues and struggles surrounding the University's religious identity and future were very thoughtful and insightful, and particularly informative. I am very impressed with the evenness and openness with which you were able to explore these delicate matters, and the clarity with which you have articulated the debate.
As we struggle with somewhat similar issues (small liberal arts college version), it is wonderful to read and learn from someone who has the intellectual energy, personal maturity and professional wisdom to take on what certainly must be one of higher education's most challenging conversations.
Mark W. Van Tilburg
Executive Director of College Relations, William Jewell College, Liberty, Mo.
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