Devan Jonklaas, PhD
Faculty-in-Residence, Senior Lecturer Chemistry and Biochemistry
College of Arts and Sciences
Baylor to me, is unique because it aspires to be an unequivocally Christian school while also aiming to be a top tier research university that is committed to academic excellence.
To me, Baylor has the size and academic standing to achieve these goals. I went to a wonderful Christian university for my undergraduate experience, but it was very small (with under 2,000 students) and thus lacked the finances to have a library (or e-library) stocked with the best academic journals. In addition, it was a challenge to get prominent academicians to speak there.
Baylor’s size and standing offers students access to excellent library resources and the ability to attract prominent scholars to speak on campus. For example, in the chemistry department, our Gooch-Stevens Lecture series has had several Nobel laureates as our honored guests and speakers. We also have faculty who conduct research that is being published in preeminent journals, and this means our undergraduate students can experience working with active, published researchers — which wasn’t possible at my alma mater.
At the same time, Baylor still feels like a small university where students feel known and cared for.
We can offer them the best of both worlds — the academic resources of a large institution and the personalized attention of a smaller school. This is amplified by our emphasis on community, so students feel loved and known like they are in a much smaller school.
An inherent facet to Baylor feeling like a close community is because it has chosen to hire faculty and staff who have been transformed by Jesus and aspire to live out His teachings. Thus, because “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends,” the faculty and staff at Baylor have a built in ethos (inspired by our Savior who gave His very life for us) of attentiveness and service toward our students: We aren’t simply on campus for a job, but we feel a strong call to be at Baylor to help our students flourish.
I have been pondering and reading about “individual success” and one of the consistent themes I have encountered is that the individual achieving success had often been mentored.
Among the many significant individuals in my life were my high school chemistry and physics teachers. They believed in me and encouraged my achievement. They were both brilliant and had doctorates. Their Christian faith led them to invest in students like me instead of pursuing much more profitable
and/or academically fame-bringing careers. Their impact on me was not just in the classroom, but it included hosting us in their homes for Bible study and more. By their care and concern, they modeled the love of God to me and were the epitome of those who fostered transformational education. I have aspired to follow in their footsteps at the college level as I engage with my students.
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