Much of last week and the coming one, I’m traveling to bring good words about the Honors College to alumni, friends, and donors in the Houston, Washington, DC, and Boston areas. It’s a joy to hold high our accomplishments and to invite others to embrace and support our aspirations. Admiration of the Honors College runs high. I always hear spirited praise of our faculty and staff, and the stories recounted of our students’ successes are touching.
As I write from Annapolis, I have the pleasure of a gentle breeze off the Chesapeake Bay, sight of catamarans tacking around the marina, and bells from boats and yachts coming and going. It’s uplifting, a reminder that, whatever sea-borne storms may batter our shores and lives, the mercy of the Lord endures forever.
I spent most of Thursday in the company of four wonderful colleagues: Jessica Hooten Wilson (University of Dallas), Angel Adams Parham(University of Virginia), Chris Perrin (Alcuin Fellowship), and Anika Prather (Howard University). Our hosts were Noah Tyler and Gabriel Blanchard of Classic Learning Test (CLT), and we were gathered to discuss the nature, scope, significance, and usefulness of an author bank from which CLT draws in creating reading and writing passages for its standardized tests.
Our wide-ranging conversation was bracing and wonderful, ranging from Terence the African to Margery Kempe to Edmund Husserl, with many a detour to speak of greater and lesser authors along the way. What struck me most was not the intelligence of my companions, though they each certainly have that quality in abundance. Nor was I principally taken by the breadth of their learning, though they knew much about our inherited traditions of learning. Rather, I left admiring the fairness, in all its senses, of a conversation grounded in the conviction that true learning is noble, that it depends upon others’ gifts, and that sharing what we know elevates us, both in the giving and the receiving.
It was indeed this kind of intellectual friendship that first aroused my interest in an academic vocation, now some thirty years ago. During college, a professor I respected invited me to attend a faculty reading group. What I witnessed, in reticently taking a seat around a table of my favorite teachers, was the exhilaration of hearing smart people talking about big ideas. Even more, I saw devoted friends helping each other grow in understanding and wisdom. Their companionable discussion modeled for me the kind of intellectual community for which I longed. I still do.
Our lives are enriched when, in Christian fidelity and friendship, we take time to read, think, speak, and learn together. Let’s always look for space in our schedules, and certainly within our hearts, to sit with each other now and then, mulling over great and ordinary matters together. And when we do so, let’s be gladdened by the fair gifts of learning and encouragement we receive, remembering that in these things, too, the mercy of the Lord endures forever.
Please give attention to a few other matters of common interest:
- Last week, our faculty reached a 100% COVID-19 vaccination rate, making the HC the first academic unit at Baylor for which all faculty have accomplished this significant public health measure. Hooray! Provost Nancy Brickhouse has expressed her personal gratitude, which I heartily share. Staff colleagues, please help us out. At a 73.7% vaccination rate, you have room to improve. In the meantime, twice-weekly testing remains required. North Village and Hankamer COVID-19 testing sites open at 7:45 a.m. and close at 6:00 p.m., so completion of testing before or after work hours is possible.
- Faculty in the Great Texts Program have created a new course, now approved for the 2022-23 Undergraduate Catalog: GTX 3332 Black Intellectual Traditions. It aims to explore ways “Black Americans have written about their distinctive experience resisting oppression, marginalization, inequality, enslavement, poverty, and the abuse of authority from the 18th to the 21st centuries—as well as the deep connections between this experience and the creation of new forms of artistic beauty and literary excellence.” Well done, colleagues. We look forward to the impact this important new course will have upon the minds and lives of our students.
- We have a new Human Resources Consultant serving us out of Robinson Tower. Count on Hannah Bjerch-Andresen as a point of contact for HR-related news, procedures, and personnel support. She is an alumna, having received a BBA in human resources management in 2015. Welcome back to Baylor, Hannah!
- Congratulations to Amanda Barton, business officer for the Honors College, for reaching her five-year service milestone at Baylor this month. As business officer, Amanda helps plan and manage college finances, coordinate Ignite-related processes, and support personnel hiring actions. We’re grateful for your service, Amanda, and wish you a happy fifth anniversary.
All the best,
Douglas V. Henry | Dean
Honors College | Baylor University
baylor.edu/honorscollege/ | 254.710.7689