Baylor's Christian Commitment
As we begin a new year, casting our vision forward to the day when our collective world will regain the security and physical togetherness we once thought of as “normal,” we still find ourselves vulnerable to the anxieties, uncertainties and conflicts created by the many challenges of an ongoing pandemic.
Similar conditions characterized the world in which Jesus and His disciples lived. Amid the tensions of being ruled by occupying Romans and deeply felt religious expectations concerning the coming of the Messiah, Jesus sought to bring healing to a conflict-filled world. Indeed, when questioned by the Pharisees concerning the greatest commandment in the law, Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV).
This message of love is of paramount importance today all around the world. As a Christian research university, Baylor is firmly grounded in these words of our Savior. The components of our strategic plan, Illuminate, are directly tied to the practice of loving God with all our heart, soul and mind. Our commitment to providing a welcoming, caring community to those on our campus and to those with whom we interact around the world is based on loving one another as a reflection of God’s love for each of us.
Since our founding more than 175 years ago and continuing through the ensuing generations, Baylor has profoundly impacted our students and communities both in our immediate area and across the globe by focusing on excellence in teaching, service and research. We have intently maintained a unique place in American higher education as a prominent research institution guided by a Christian mission rooted in the compassion and values of Texas Baptist pioneers.
Occupying this position of prominence, we have frequently found ourselves at the crossroads of religious, philosophical, social and intellectual tensions. That we continue to occupy such a place today, leaning into our commitment to embody Christ’s love while seeking truth, comes as no surprise. In fact, it comes as a confirmation that we are in exactly the right place. Nowhere is this intersection more evident than in our University motto: Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana, or “For Church, For Texas.”
Judge Abner V. McCall, J.D. ’38, B.A. ’42, was Baylor’s 10th president, serving from 1961 to 1981. In September 1969, he gave a speech in Waco Hall on the theme of “Change Within the Unchanging.” McCall’s words marked the beginning of the observance of Baylor’s 125th year.
“This University is founded on the belief that only the truth proclaimed by our Lord gives real freedom and that this truth is unchanging,” McCall said. “An educational program that emphasizes this truth we believe is ever modern and ever relevant to the life of the student in the University and outside the University in the future.”
Judge McCall went on to share, “It has been often said, however, that change is the chief characteristic of this age and that the rate of change is ever accelerating.” After noting the advances that were “revolutionizing the ‘knowledge industry,’” he added that Baylor University must continue to be flexible and changing in these areas.
Today, Baylor continues to pursue excellence in higher education — adapting and integrating new thoughts and advances without deviating from our core values or our long-held mission. This is a challenge we eagerly accept. We hold firm to the conviction that the world needs a preeminent research university that is distinctively Christian. The world needs a Baylor.
I am grateful that during this time of challenge and uncertainty throughout our country and in every nation across the globe, members of the Baylor Family continue to stand united by our long-held values as an institution and dedicated to our Christian mission to serve as a beacon of hope to our surrounding world.
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.
President, Baylor University