Baylor University is approaching the completion of a ten-year plan that directed a period of significant growth and impacted all aspects of University life. In BAYLOR 2012, we asserted our intention to enter the top tier of American research universities while deepening our Christian commitment. By all indications, we have made remarkable progress. We have explored a multitude of ways to nurture our ability to lead faithful lives within the University community and to allow our faith to inform the work that we do. At the same time, we have demonstrated the institutional will to build the necessary infrastructure and cultivate our faculty's expertise to participate fully in the community of scholars, as evidenced by the Carnegie reclassification of Baylor as a research university with high research activity. We celebrate the successes of the past decade. Yet we realize that our efforts to deepen our Christian commitment, by their very nature, should never cease, and we still have considerable work to do to position Baylor as a preeminent research university with very high research activity. Indeed, we are inspired as we continue to grow and be known as a national research university that resolutely embraces its Christian identity.
Baylor stands in a place occupied by few other institutions. While some colleges and universities proclaim, as Baylor does, a guiding set of Christian principles, and many universities, as Baylor does, strongly support scholarly research, Baylor is among a very few set apart by a Christian identity and a commitment to research. As stated in BAYLOR 2012,"We believe that the highest intellectual excellence is fully compatible with orthodox Christian devotion. Indeed, the two are not only compatible but mutually reinforcing." From this vantage point, we are able to contribute to the national conversation about important issues that are confronting the world—issues such as health care, economic growth, human rights, poverty, and sustainability—in a way that few others can.
The nineteenth- and twentieth-century diminishment and ultimate disappearance of Christian commitment from the elite universities of the United States is well-documented. Yet we still believe that not only can a Baptist heritage inform a Protestant, free-church approach to life, it can also inform the life of the mind. The world needs a top-tier research university that not only is unapologetically Christian, but also demonstrates to the world that a Baptist or Protestant or Christian commitment does not imply a lack of scholarly research, but—to the contrary—requires scholarship at the highest levels of quality.
And it is not just the scholarship we produce that inspires or compels us. We strive to graduate students who go forth and want to make a difference in our world. Our nation is in desperate need of citizens and leaders who have the integrity and the life of faith to do what is right in the face of competing pressures. Thus, it is essential that our students not only engage fully in our academic enterprise—learning to absorb, synthesize, critique, and produce knowledge—but that they also have a passion to apply that knowledge in the context of a commitment to achieve ends that transcend mere self-interest.
Baylor has long identified and stated its Mission, Foundational Assumptions, Core Convictions, and Unifying Academic Themes, which, collectively, comprise Baylor's Christian commitments. These commitments, together with Baylor's motto, Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana, continue to define Baylor's character, Baylor's purpose, and Baylor's exceptional vocation in the world of higher education. They motivated the very founding of Baylor, and they have guided the University at every point in our history.
These commitments direct the recruitment, hiring, and development of our faculty and staff, and they shape our students' educational experience. This experience transcends the lecture hall, the studio, and the laboratory because our duties do not end at the classroom door. A commitment to the whole student challenges us to incorporate the cultivation of the life of the mind with opportunities for spiritual formation and leadership development. Our faculty model and expect academic excellence. But they also nurture the spirit of the men and women who honor us with their trust and time. Baylor University remains a place where the Lordship of Jesus Christ is recognized, studied, and celebrated in community. And that community is not limited to an academic building or bound by the class hour. Indeed, our community is inclusive, engaging students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and friends.
We love God with our heart and so we are compelled to care for one another and to care actively for our hurting world. We love God with our soul and so we are called to worship Him and to serve Him in building His church. We love God with our mind and so we are called to research, scholarship, and creative endeavors that truth may be discovered, new knowledge disseminated, and beauty revealed. We will continue to exercise care in hiring faculty and staff who embrace our mission and enthusiastically support these goals and whose lives of faith manifest integrity, moral strength, generosity of spirit, and humility (Colossians 3:12) to train students who will go out into the world with these same characteristics.
It is against this backdrop that we look back, giving thanks for all that Baylor has been, and look forward, with great expectation, to the promise -- and purpose -- that illuminate her destiny.
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OUR NEW STRATEGIC PLAN is a dynamic roadmap for our future, providing direction without dictating specific action—a living document that illuminates our destination but invites creativity in determining the paths by which we will arrive. At the highest level, our proposed plan includes six aspirational statements, all of which proceed directly from our Christian commitments. Within these, areas of specification codify our broader themes. Following the adoption of the plan, acts of determination, reflecting the aspiration and specification of our proposed plan and generated in all areas of the University, will take the form of a variety of original ideas that will illuminate our vision going forward. The present structure enables everyone in our community to have the opportunity to contribute to the proposed plan and to University progress. Projects and initiatives already underway are mentioned in the document to demonstrate the bridge connecting BAYLOR 2012 and OUR NEW STRATEGIC PLAN. Some new initiatives will be implemented immediately, while others may be reworked as circumstances change or new ideas emerge. Still others will, of necessity, be implemented only as resources become available.
We launch OUR NEW STRATEGIC PLAN in humility but from a position of strength—strength measured in the form of traditional outputs, such as student ability and research productivity, as well as strength motivated by a Biblical worldview reflected in the character of our people, our programs, and the nature of our investments. Our plan for the next decade will be characterized by renewed energy and creativity. Building on our standing as a national research university, we set as our goal the continued integration of faith and reason, cultivating wisdom that transforms the lives of our students, guides our work in the community, and enhances the contributions we make to address the significant challenges facing our world.
The work to which we are called is an undertaking of profound significance. Previous generations of Baylor graduates have embraced the responsibility to be salt and light in the world, and, in so doing, to "light the ways of time." That clarion call rings true today. We know that when we impact the world from the distinctive space Baylor occupies at the crossroads of faith and academic excellence, we are acting out of conviction that this is what God has called us to do.