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Baylor hosts conference for Baptist universities

April 7, 1997

Baylor hosts conference for Baptist universities

Educators discuss future roles of technology, faith in higher education

By Michelle Van Rysselberge

Lariat Staff Writer

Baylor University's school of education hosted a weekend conference April 4 and 5 for education faculty from eight Baptist universities in Texas.

The conference, made possible by the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the Baylor University Partner's Project, is the first of its kind, and educators hope it will be an annual tradition.

More than 70 educators from Baylor University, Dallas Baptist University, East Texas Baptist University, Hardin-Simmons University, Houston Baptist University, Howard Payne University, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor and Wayland Baptist were scheduled to attend the conference.

'The purpose of the conference will be for the education faculty members to examine two major themes that impact the preparation of future teachers in Texas,' said Dr. James L. Williamson, acting dean of Baylor's school of education, in a press release. 'The first is how educators can use emerging technologies to better prepare future teachers, and the second is to examine the relationship between faith and learning.'

In the opening session on April 4, Dr. Clarence Ham, dean of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor's school of education, said that the conference's five main goals were to become better acquainted with one another, learn new things, be a positive influence, identify issues common to Baptist universities to prepare teachers for the future and have a good time.

After lunch, Dr. Wallace Davis, president of Wayland Baptist University, spoke about 'The Relationship of Faith and Learning.' Davis mentioned several problems in the relationship: the deterioration of the moral fabric in the United States, denominational affiliated universities abandoning their religious heritage and convictions or becoming tolerant and non-confrontational, the lack of chapel and Bible study requirements and faculty replacing their faith with the discipline they teach.

In 1940, 40 percent of all students who attended universities in Texas attended private schools. Now only nine percent attend, and Davis predicted by 2000 the number will decrease to six percent.

'Can Christian universities maintain uniqueness?' Davis asked.

To save Christian universities, basic lessons of morality must be taught in schools, Davis said.

To integrate faith and learning, faculty should not be discouraged, remain faithful to the purpose of education and transforming lives, share their faith with students, know the purpose of teaching and that morality instead of intellectualism may make the biggest difference, Davis said. He added that administrators should expect faculty to talk about their faith in class and that the faculty's faith credentials should be as impeccable as their academic credentials.

'It is only in all classrooms, not just Bible classes, that Christian character of the university will find its full expression,' Davis said. 'The university's administration must be able to say the mission of faith and learning is really happening in the classroom.'

After the opening session, the group heard two other speakers that afternoon. Dr. Eddyth Worley, internationally known expert in distance learning and consultant for Nortel, Inc., in Washington D.C., lectured about 'Education and Technology.'

During the third session, 'Technology: Promise and Problems' was the topic Dr. Betty Jo Monk and Dr. Doug Rogers, of Baylor's center for technology, discussed.

In the evening, the educators had dinner at the Brazos Club and Dr. Don Newberry, president of Howard Payne University, gave a presentation called 'Education, We're in it for Life.'

'Jobs Alike and Special Interest Groups' was the title of the mid-morning activity April 5. To close the conference, the faculty ate lunch at the Harrington House and Dr. Mark Littleton, executive director of the State Board of Educator Certification, spoke about 'Professionalism in Education.'

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