Kenneth W. Starr and Baylor 2012
This is month-old news, but Christianity Today recently reported on Kenneth Starr as the new president of my undergrad alma mater, Baylor University, quoting him on the prospects for the academic goals mapped out by Baylor 2012 in "Q & A: Kenneth Starr, Baylor's Next President" (March 11, 2010), an interview by Sarah Pulliam Bailey:
Question: Baylor 2012 announced the institution's intent to become a tier one institution. Do you think that goal will become a reality in the next decade?In my years as a Baylor undergraduate, I was an Honors Student, and I look back fondly on those days, so I'm very supportive, in spirit, of the Baylor 2012 vision.
Starr: I don't want to offer future predictive judgments. The future is unknown and unknowable. I do believe Baylor 2012 is a comprehensive plan for excellence and the expansion of learning, and the further and central integration of faith and learning is extraordinary and courageous. I embrace it wholeheartedly and enthusiastically. The grand vision of Baylor 2012 is one of the very important dimensions of Baylor life that has drawn me this great institution. The board of regents unanimously supports Baylor 2012. Here we are in 2010, so it is time thoughtfully to assess where Baylor is as an institution, and after that assessment, the process will be to prayerfully contemplate the next step.
Question: The original plan for Baylor 2012 called for many new additions to the university, including an honors college and 10 new doctoral programs, with 200 new faculty appointments. Do you know what the state of Baylor 2012 is right now?
Starr: Many of the goals have in fact been accomplished admirably. Others remain as aspirational and noble objectives. The task now is to assess comprehensively and thoughtfully where the university is on that march toward 2012.
I remember a decade ago, when the goal was announced by President Robert B. Sloan, that the aim to raise Baylor to the ranks of a tier one university was controversial. If I recall correctly, the fear among some was that Baylor would lose its distinctive Christian ethos in striving for higher academic ranking. Oddly, the other fear seems to have been that President Sloan was a closet fundamentalist who wanted to smuggle creationism into the Baylor curriculum in the guise of intelligent design because of his support for William A. Dembski. I didn't attempt to read Sloan's mind, but I liked his articulated intellectual vision, and it now appears to be acclaimed as visionary (though I suppose that it has developed in ways unanticipated by Sloan). I suppose that only time will tell, given that "[t]he future is unknown and unknowable," but I wish Baylor the best.
Not that my wishes have anything to do with it . . .
Labels: Baylor University