Presidents of Baylor, Yeshiva and Catholic University to Discuss ‘State of Higher Education and the Calling of Faith-based Universities’

Feb. 2, 2015

President Starr welcomes leaders for “On Topic” conversation Feb. 4 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Contact: Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275
Follow Lori on Twitter at @LoriBaylorU
Follow Baylor Media Communications on Twitter: @BaylorUMedia

WACO, Texas (Feb. 2, 2015) – Are we witnessing the death of the religious university? Or is there a market for a faith-based institution in the 21st century?

Baylor University President Ken Starr will welcome Catholic University of America President John Garvey and Yeshiva University President Richard Joel for an "On Topic" conversation on the “The State of Higher Education: The Calling of Faith-Based Universities” from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 4, at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

The three leaders of these historic and prominent academic institutions that maintain a serious faith commitment will discuss questions that include:

• Is it considered a strength for these three universities that they refuse to give up their faith traditions?

• With the changes in the landscape of higher education, what are the pressures of being a modern-day university in the 21st century? Is maintaining a cultural and spiritual identity any different than 100 years ago?

• How do these institutions defend religious freedom and thought?

The event begins with a reception at 6:30 p.m. The conversation will start at 7 p.m. The presidents plan to take questions afterward.

From the Presidents about the Role of Faith-based Institutions Now and into the Future

    President Ken Starr: “When higher education in America was first established in the 1630s, the qualities of contemplation, discernment and wisdom were considered not only essential to a life of faith but also to the life of the mind. Today, faith-based higher education institutions provide education and scholarship grounded in ethics and an intellectual curiosity springing from disciplined habits of the heart that inspire action to help a hurting world. Ennobled by eternal values, faith-based institutions serve a higher calling. They are committed to instruction, research, scholarship and creative endeavors so talent may be released, truth may be discovered, beauty revealed and goodness multiplied, all for the benefit of others.”

    President John Garvey: “What are universities for? This is the question of the day in higher education, and faith-based universities and colleges have a distinct advantage in answering it. Because we believe that human beings are made to know, love, and serve God, we recognize that the academic vocation must be a way for students and faculty to come to know and love God better. This means we don’t just teach students about God in theology class; we create an intellectual environment in which faith informs all of our studies. It means we teach our students about the life of virtue and we try to show them how to live it.”

    President Richard Joel: “A core question for the future of our civilization is how young people grow feeling ennobled and enabled to matter in the world. Higher education serves, and needs to continue to serve, a key objective by helping students prepare to make a living, while at the same time, inspiring them in how to live a life. We have an obligation to help young people develop a nuanced approach to a value- laden western civilization. Faith-based institutions and mission-based institutions need to share these perspectives with their students and society as a whole.”

About the Universities

Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas, Baylor University is the state’s oldest continually operating university and the world’s largest Baptist university. As a nationally ranked research institution, Baylor offers a broad range of degrees among its 12 academic divisions. Established to be a servant of the church and of society, Baylor seeks to fulfill its calling through excellence in teaching and research, in scholarship and publication, and in service to the community, both local and global.

Located in Washington, D.C., The Catholic University of America was founded in 1887 by the U.S. Catholic bishops with the support of Pope Leo XIII and is the national university of the Catholic Church in the United States. Established as a graduate research center, Catholic University is home to 12 schools and 21 research facilities and is the only American university with ecclesiastical faculties granting canonical degrees in three disciplines.

Founded in 1886, Yeshiva University in New York City is the oldest and most comprehensive educational institution under Jewish auspices in America. It is an independent university that ranks among the nation's leading academic research institutions and, reflecting the time-honored tradition of Torah Umadda, provides the highest quality Jewish and secular education of any Jewish university in the world.

About On Topic

"On Topic with Ken Starr" is an ongoing series of compelling conversations on contemporary issues. President Starr’s past “On Topic” guests have included author, financier and alternative energy proponent T. Boone Pickens; former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; constitutional law scholar and Yale Law Professor Akhil Reed Amar; U.S. Sen. George J. Mitchell; writer and social critic Os Guinness; Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz; journalist and political commentator Juan Williams; and philanthropists Sean and Leigh Anne Touhy of “The Blind Side.” Upcoming “On Topic” guests include retired Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf, now the holder of the Jerry and Susie Wilson Chair in Religious Freedom at Baylor, and former Vermont Sen. Joe Lieberman.

The National Press Club is located at 529 14th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited and registration is required. To register, email

MEDIA: To register to cover the event, contact Lori Fogleman in Baylor’s Office of Media Communications at, Mary McCarthy Hines or Katie Lee in Catholic University’s Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600 or, or Matt Yaniv in Yeshiva’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs at


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

Looking for more news from Baylor University?