Text title treatment: Dialogue with the Deans

Honors College

Thomas Hibbs, Dean, Director of Baylor in Washington, DC, and Distinguished Professor of Ethics & Culture


Our students face two large challenges: the first obvious to everyone the second not so much. They are entering an ever more competitive and uncertain economic world. For this, they need skills, internships, research opportunities and faculty mentoring to help discern career paths. To meet these needs, we are increasing our collaborative work with Career and Professional Development and with the offices of pre-law and pre-health. Precisely because the needs of the market are ever changing, our students need more than a set of determinate skills. They need the sorts of virtues that come from the liberal education honors college programs are designed to foster.

But they are also entering a world that will tempt and cajole them into thinking that career and financial success are the things most to be valued and that the Christian faith, particularly the faith of Christians in the South, is backwards and irrational, an obstacle to human flourishing. To prepare for this world, they need more than skills and information; they are going to need to drink deeply of scripture and the wisdom that comes to us from great authors of the past and the present.

They need the opportunity to think about happiness in more than a superficial way, to examine critically the dominant models of success and failure in our culture, and to ponder rich alternatives from the Christian tradition. Some things that count as success in our culture are described in scripture as vile while things that are often reviled in our culture ought to be eagerly embraced by Christians.

Through study, shared conversation with faculty and other students, through common prayers and service to least of these, our students will be able to shape the culture rather than to be passively formed by it.

Honors Residential College (HRC) Faculty Master Todd Buras organized the activities of the HRC around three loves: the love of God, the love of neighbor, and the love of learning. That's not a bad way of saying what we're about in the whole Honors College: the integration of the life of the mind with the life of faith, the pursuit of knowledge with the service of others, and the discernment of a career that is part of much more--a divine calling.

As dean, I am deeply grateful for the opportunity Baylor has given me--especially as a Yankee Catholic!--to bring together a tremendous team eager to work together for the common good and to build a community that fosters intellectual and moral virtue. I am truly blessed to work with a team of superb faculty colleagues, a talented staff eager to serve, and gifted students who pursue the love of God, the love of learning, and the love of neighbor.