Meet John Burk

Assistant Dean for Strategic Initiatives

What brought you to this position at Truett Seminary?

Before coming to work at Truett, I was in Houston, running a small organization for people suffering from memory loss, most commonly Alzheimer’s, and training congregation-based volunteers on how to provide free caregiving services. I entered as senior vice president and then took over as president when the remaining founder retired. I had a wonderful experience there and really didn’t think I would leave.

Then, this position at Truett became available, and Baylor and Truett have always held an elevated status in my mind and in my life. After much prayer and discernment, I felt very strongly that it was appropriate to throw my hat in the ring. I resigned from my position in Houston in November of 2016 and came to Truett that December. It was a pretty quick turnaround, but I was eager to get started. It’s been a lot of fun. It really has been the kind of environment and atmosphere that I’d hoped it was going to be.

Tell us about your experience as a student at Truett.

I come from a background of people who were in medical research, academics, medicine or pastoral ministry. Pursuing academic theology, for me, was a vocational calling and a good blend of my upbringing and genetic makeup. But, as anybody who has gone into higher theological education knows, the rigor of studying and learning about the faith that has shaped you for the first 18 to 20 years of your life is a transformative experience, and for me, it was very positive. It was positive to learn from faculty members things about my faith that I didn’t even know. It was positive for me to learn about spiritual practices and ways of praying, reading Scripture and relating to the church that I had never been introduced to before or that had never occurred to me.

I grew up in a loving and faithful Christian family. Truett edified me in that faith. It was shortly after we moved to the Baugh-Reynolds campus that I also got married to Waco native Margaret Durham in 2003. In fact, our wedding reception was in the Great Hall in Truett. I look back on those days as among the more formative ones in my adult life.

What is Truett’s top strategic initiative at this time?

There are a number of strategic initiatives, but the emphasis on Houston has risen to the top. We think it’s a strategic time to be focusing on the Houston market. As a Houstonian, we’ve got a point person who fits naturally there. We know the need for there to be a presence of Baylor’s Seminary in Houston is great and the demand is ever-increasing. This expansion is chief among the initiatives that I am working on. There are others, such as establishing partnerships across the state with other higher education institutions and churches, enhancing the offerings in our Online Certificate Program and continuing to make graduate theological education more accessible and affordable for our students, but Houston is a central focus right now.

What do you enjoy most about your work at Truett?

Well, I’ve been on both sides of academics, both in the classroom and in administration. I love being in the classroom and interacting with students, but I am energized by working in administration. Organizationally designing the institution and thinking strategically about where we are headed and why is an exciting challenge to me. There’s a purpose for moving Truett forward, and finding that purpose is a favorite part of my job. I work to align our initiatives with the purpose of what we’re called to do, which is to equip ministers to serve in and alongside Christ’s church. I have a deep and abiding passion for being on this side of things.