Aspirational Statement and Preface

Aspirational Statement

The College of Arts & Sciences, the oldest and largest academic unit at Baylor University, will provide the leadership for Baylor to build its distinctive identity: a major research institution with a commitment to transformative education within a Christian community of scholars.


Pro Futuris is a bold strategic vision that will propel Baylor University into the top tier of universities nationally even as its Christian heritage and mission are more fully realized. This vision inspires us to strive for the highest academic standing while delivering a transformational education that prepares "men and women for worldwide leadership and service." Few major research universities are known for great teaching and fewer still for religious commitment. Baylor, however, uniquely aspires to the integration of all three imperatives.

The College of Arts & Sciences is the engine that will drive the University to the destination articulated in Pro Futuris. We have nearly one-half of the University’s living alumni and associated fundraising capacity. The faculty from the 26 academic departments1 of Arts & Sciences educate the entire undergraduate student body through the nationally recognized Arts & Sciences core curriculum, educate the great majority of the health science students, and graduate most of the University’s doctoral students, while at the same time managing many of the University’s centers and institutes. Because of the academic breadth and depth of Arts & Sciences, significant improvements to evaluative metrics of any kind are intrinsically determined by the achievement of our goals.

As this plan is implemented, the Arts & Sciences faculty, building on the long tradition at Baylor of dynamic teacher-scholars, will bring extraordinary discoveries to the classrooms in world-class facilities equipped with cutting-edge technology. They will produce research across the Humanities,2 Social Sciences,3 and STEM4 fields to help solve the grand challenges of society. Leadership in health science education and research will grow exponentially through new collaborations across school boundaries and with leading external constituencies.

As the College of Arts & Sciences realizes its conception of Pro Futuris, we will educate greater numbers of the world’s most academically talented students. With greater frequency, our undergraduates will distinguish themselves through national scholarships and admissions to prestigious professional and academic graduate programs. Our students will lead in their fields as informed citizens and empirical decision makers who are grounded in firm moral commitments and vibrant faith perspectives. They will have a deeper grasp of the world as they pursue and acquire positions of leadership within and beyond higher education. Our alumni will be more engaged with our work and will contribute in turn to the success of Arts & Sciences both financially and through actions and advocacy. Baylor, recognized as a national leader in higher education, will transform the world through its graduates.

Our plan, which we call A&Spire, focuses on five themes and their respective Acts of Determination (AOD) formulated as responses to key aspirational statements presented in Pro Futuris. These themes and the major initiatives embodied within them will provide the framework for robust, multi-faceted academic endeavors in the years ahead.

Theme 1

Advancing Liberal Education in the 21st Century is found at the intersection of academic excellence and informed faith as articulated in Pro Futuris. This intersection has been and always will be the heart of the College of Arts & Sciences and is exemplified in our commitment to transformational education. With a foundational, cutting-edge core curriculum, enhanced interdisciplinary collaboration, more engaged learning opportunities, and additional undergraduate research, successes will reverberate across all departments and programs. Utilizing these resources, our students will continue building skills in communication, critical thinking, civic leadership, and Christian perspective.

Theme 2

Becoming a Nationally Recognized Research Institution directly responds to the Pro Futuris aspiration to become a Research University classified at a very high level of research activity (RU/VH), led in large part by the STEM fields, as recognized by the Carnegie Foundation. Increased faculty scholarly productivity through grant awards, doctoral production, and technical and post-doctoral staffing are crucial for achieving this goal and for advancing Baylor’s reputation and distinct Christian mission. Compelling scholarship will enhance Baylor’s long-standing tradition of great teaching, while further engaging Baylor’s faculty and students in national discussions as central and vital as politics, religion, business, health, and the arts.

Theme 3

Strengthening Community Engagement responds to the Pro Futuris aspiration of informed engagement and committed constituents. Fulfilling Baylor’s mission of pro Ecclesia and pro Texana requires that we become more intentional about assessing and coordinating our communication efforts among faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends in order to continue building cohesive local, national, and global networks. Such work will not only enrich the educational experience of students residing at Baylor and in Waco, but also will enable us to serve Central Texas neighbors and cultivate alumni and friends for years to come.

Theme 4

Investing in the Health Sciences responds to the Pro Futuris recognition that the "brand" of Baylor is tied inextricably to the health sciences. This reputation, as part of a larger historic legacy, will be enhanced as we implement our strategic vision and respond to ever-changing academic, public, and political exigencies. Because Arts & Sciences educates most of the University's prehealth students, houses the Office of Prehealth Studies, and oversees many of the research programs devoted to the health sciences, our leadership is critically important to Baylor’s name recognition that attracts a strong student body. Our calling to heal broken bodies and wounded spirits informs our aim to attain the Carnegie classification of a very high research university.

Theme 5

Building the Financial Foundation provides a financial plan for the implementation of the Acts of Determination proposed in the themes of this document. The financial model will consist of three key components for the procurement of future resources: fundraising, judicious stewardship, and operational enhancements. All three sources must work in concert to implement and sustain the Arts & Sciences vision so that, as Pro Futuris concludes, "we can be confident in our actions as we chart a path that honors our heritage, raises our sights, and spreads light to a world that needs what God has called and equipped us to offer."

This document represents the fruition of research and deliberations completed during the 2012-2013 academic year by multiple committees comprised of faculty, staff, and colleagues from within and outside of the College of Arts & Sciences. A special thanks is extended to Baylor University Press for assisting with editorial reviews.

The committee members who produced the theme reports and for whom the College of Arts & Sciences is deeply grateful are as follows:

Sara Alexander, Mark Anderson, Michael Beaty, William Bellinger, Gregory Benesh, Frieda Blackwell, Heidi Bostic, Blake Burleson, Gary Carter, Kevin Chambliss, David Clinton, George Cobb, Stan Denman, Jaime Diaz-Granados, Robert Doyle, Steven Driese, Robyn Driskell, Patrick Farmer, Randy Fiedler, David Garrett, Lynnette Geary, Kenneth Hafertepe, Jeffrey Hamilton, Christopher Hansen, Carrolle Kamperman, James Karban, Lance Littlejohn, James Marcum, Frank Mathis, Lorin Matthews, Craig Moehnke, Daniel Nodes, Lee Nordt, Viola Osborn, Richard Sanker, David Schlueter, James Shepelwich, Alden Smith, Julie Stahl, Sara Stone, Charles Tolbert, Jack Tubbs, Elizabeth Vardaman, Dianna Vitanza, Suzy Weems, Kenneth Wilkins, Carl Wooten, Rose Youngblood.


1 Beginning the summer of 2014 the University will create a new College of Health and Human Sciences (HHS) that will include the transfer of the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department and the Family and Consumer Sciences Department from Arts & Sciences to the new college. References to these two departments in the A&Spire strategic plan must be considered tentative in light of these administrative changes.

2 The Humanities departments within Arts & Sciences include: Art; Classics; English; History; Modern Languages and Cultures; Philosophy; Political Science; Religion; and Theatre Arts.

3 The Social Science departments within Arts & Sciences include: Aerospace Studies/AFROTC; Anthropology; Communication Sciences and Disorders; Family and Consumer Sciences; Military Science/ROTC; Communication; Journalism, Public Relations and New Media; Museum Studies; and Sociology.

4 The STEM departments within Arts & Sciences include: Biology; Chemistry and Biochemistry; Environmental Science; Geology; Mathematics; Physics; Psychology and Neuroscience; and Statistical Science.