History


Founding of the Dawson Institute

Baylor University established the J. M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies in 1957. It was named in honor of Dr. Joseph Martin Dawson (1879 - 1973), an outstanding Baylor University alumnus, distinguished author, and ardent advocate of religious liberty and the separation of church and state. The Institute is the oldest of its kind located in a university setting. It is exclusively devoted to research in the broad area of religion, politics, and society and committed to the separation of church and state and the advancement of religious liberty around the world.

  

Timeline

  • 1957
    • The J. M Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies is founded. It is named in honor of Dr. Joseph Martin Dawson, who served as the first Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs (1947-1954).
  • 1958
    • The Journal of Church & State, the only periodical of its kind at the time, is established and soon becomes the preeminent forum for publication of key articles.
  • 1959
    • Dr. James E. Wood, Jr. is appointed as the first director. He held this position until 1972 and again from 1980 to 1995.
  • 1965
    • The Interdepartmental Graduate Degree Program in Church-State Studies is inaugurated, leading students towards a Master of Arts degree.
  • 1968
    • The Church-State Center moves into permanent facilities in the Carroll Library and establishes its classrooms and library there.
  • 1970
    • Jim Logsdon is the first graduate to earn a Master of Arts degree.
  • 1973
  • 1995
    • The third director, Dr. Derek Davis, is appointed. He served as director until 2006.
  • 1997
    • Dr. J. David Holcomb, the first doctoral student, graduates.
  • 2006
    • The fourth director, Dr. Chris Marsh, is appointed. He held this position until 2011.
  • 2008
    • The Journal of Church & State celebrates its 50th Anniversary with its 167th issue.
  • 2012
    • The academic programs of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies close, and enrolled students work to complete their degrees.
  • 2013
    • The J.M Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies is restructured through the efforts of Dr. William Bellinger, former chair of the Department of Religion, and Dr. C. Doug Weaver.
  • 2015
  • 2021

Click here for more information on former directors of the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies.