This spring I was struck by a story about two women who ran the Pittsburgh Marathon. The two women — Laura Mazur and Jessica Robertson — met at mile 14 when they realized they were in last place. Laura was running her 12th marathon, while Jessica was running her first. Jessica was exhausted and was thinking to herself, “I’m not going to make it. There’s literally no one else out here but me, and I can’t do this by myself.”
It was at this point that Laura, the veteran marathoner, told Jessica she would slow down her pace if it meant Jessica would stay with her until the finish line. Jessica agreed, and the two women remained together for the final 12 miles. More than seven hours after the marathon started and only eight minutes before the race course was officially closed, the two women crossed the finish line holding hands side by side.
This idea is at the core of our recent Baylor United brand launch.
In April, Baylor University united our brand behind the iconic, interlocking BU, which has roots on campus reaching back nearly 100 years. The logo is powerful, distinct and instantly recognizable. However, Baylor United is about much more than unveiling new athletic uniforms and University logos.
At its heart, Baylor United speaks to how unity lies at the core of who we are as an institution and as the Baylor Family. It’s a powerful description of our identity.
“At its heart, Baylor United speaks to how unity lies at the core of who we are as an institution and as the Baylor Family. It’s a powerful description of our identity.”
It’s no secret that when successful organizations or systems are united, they become greater than the sum of their parts. Take, for instance, the human body. There are between 30 trillion and 40 trillion cells in the average human body, and when they work in concert with one another they create a breathtakingly beautiful, sophisticated system. Yet, if our bodies were to split into disconnected organs, we wouldn’t be able to perform complex functions. We’d be a complete mess.
As the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 12:5 — “So in Christ, we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
At Baylor, this scripture is lived out in many ways. We encourage our faculty to collaborate within their departments and across departmental lines for the benefit of our students and the growth of our academic endeavors. This is especially critical as we pursue the goals of Illuminate, our strategic plan, and strive to be the preeminent Christian research university.
We provide opportunities for our students to learn about each other’s cultures and backgrounds through celebrations and gatherings, teaching them to respect one another and grow together even as they pursue the unique course God has called each of them to.
These are also the lessons I learned as a student-athlete during my own college days. Playing basketball, I learned how to work as a member of a team, how to deal with difficult and stressful circumstances together, and how to work toward shared goals with people who came from many different backgrounds, talents and experiences.
Such life lessons came to form an essential foundation for my career in higher education administration, informing my approach to consensus-building leadership. I see the same attributes in our leaders who serve in a wide variety of roles across this campus.
One such leader is women’s basketball head coach Kim Mulkey, whose achievements we celebrate in this issue of Baylor Magazine. Indeed, she exemplifies the culture of excellence and the spirit of unity that are central to the Baylor experience. Coach Mulkey laid out for our Lady Bears a path to the national championship that could only be achieved if they worked together as one team. She set goals along the way and showed her talented student-athletes how all of the pieces could fit together if they were united in purpose.
Samuel Palmer Brooks, one of Baylor’s most beloved presidents, told the graduating Class of 1931 in what became known as the Immortal Message, “Do not face the future with timidity nor with fear. Face it boldly, courageously, joyously. Build upon the foundations here the great school of which I have dreamed, so that she may touch and mold the lives of future generations and help to fit them for life here and hereafter. To you seniors of the past, of the present, of the future I entrust the care of Baylor University. To you I hand the torch.”
If you’ve ever walked into a dark room with a candle, you know how much light a single flame can provide. And if you’ve ever been to a candlelight service, perhaps during a Christmas celebration or a church service, you know that passing that light to others can illuminate an entire room. I pray that at Baylor, as we go about providing a transformational education to our students, our hearts and lives will always reflect God’s illuminating love and truth.
As an institution of higher learning dedicated to service and leadership, we have set our sights on bold goals as detailed in Illuminate, our strategic plan, and Give Light, our $1.1 billion comprehensive campaign. I hope that you will be a part of these pursuits and join with us to reach these goals. Whether your support takes the shape of sharing the stories of Baylor’s progress and the work of our remarkable faculty and students with friends and colleagues; following and extending the reach of our social media channels among your spheres of influence; connecting our young graduates to opportunities within your organization; returning to campus for an athletics event, theater production or musical performance; or investing your time and resources to advance a specific program or initiative of the University, each and every avenue of support is valued and helps Baylor’s light shine brighter in the world.
The members of this wonderful, diverse community of Baylor alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents and friends that we call the Baylor Family are vital partners as we pursue ever greater accomplishments. Thank you for helping us honor the words and vision of President Brooks by continuing to boldly pursue the future as we mold the lives of our students through a transformational educational experience.