Baylor Students, Faculty and Staff:
Today we live in a world in which it seems people struggle to get along with one another. Everyone has a “hot take” on current issues, opinions are at polar extremes and compromise is nearly non-existent. And while it may seem to the contrary, we embrace diversity of thought on university campuses, including here at Baylor. In fact, one of the hallmarks of higher education is creating an environment through which individuals are presented with a “marketplace of ideas” – a term first coined by John Stuart Mill in 1859 – through which they determine their opinions and beliefs on issues and learn to express those convictions in informed and respectful ways.
At Baylor, we hold ourselves to an even higher standard as a Christian research university. We are not only guided by diverse thought and scholarly inquiry, but also through Scripture and the example set forth by Jesus Christ. We are advised to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19). Also, as Christians, we are called to “encourage one another and build each other up.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
This fall I will host a Baylor Conversation Series focusing on civil discourse for the campus community. While we may not always agree, we should demonstrate mutual respect, objectivity without hostility and an appreciation of the experiences of others. I cannot think of a more valuable practice for each of us to employ than that of loving our neighbors even when our beliefs on a matter differ.
This series will include panel discussions, roundtables and an exciting concluding event as we will welcome nationally renowned speakers Drs. Robert P. George (Princeton) and Cornel West (Harvard) to Baylor on Nov. 15. These two distinguished scholars come from opposite ends of the political spectrum, but they have learned how to respectfully disagree and have ultimately become friends.
In addition to these Presidential events, there are many other learning opportunities involving civil discourse this fall that will be hosted through our various academic areas. The Baylor Conversation Series website includes the full schedule, as well as a list of recommended readings from Baylor faculty members.
Here are a few items of note for this week:
After unloading vehicles, carrying boxes upstairs and setting up dorm rooms, the First Gent and I are worn out! But what an awesome (and hot) start to the fall semester. Thank you to all of our volunteers who welcomed our incoming students and their families to Baylor and assisted with Move2BU. I look forward to seeing everyone on campus over the next several days, and be sure to stop by Allbritton House on Monday from 3-5 p.m. for Popsicles with the Prez.
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.