Q&A With Alumni Elected Regent Candidate Mark Newton

by Shelby Pipken | April 19, 2018
There are six candidates in the running for this year’s Alumni Elected Regent election. We had the honor of interviewing each candidate in an effort to better understand their desire to become a Baylor University Regent, as well as their experience at Baylor as both a student and alumni.

Why do you feel called to be a Baylor University Regent?

Last Fall a former colleague asked if nominated, would I be open to the possibility of serving as an Alumni Elected Regent.  I was humbled at the mere thought and consideration of the possibility.  After a few days of contemplation, of course, I agreed to allow the nomination process to begin.  Baylor alumni serve!  Baylor alumni serve unconditionally!  Baylor alumni serve unconditionally whenever, wherever and however asked to do so!  As a young teen I felt called to vocational ministry to prepared to become a pastor.  As a minister for over 30 years I have experienced numerous calls to serve local churches as well as a call to become a staff member at Baylor in 2014. Currently I live out my call as Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Lufkin.  I feel the same sense of calling to serve Baylor (if my fellow alumni so choose) as an Alumni Elected Regent. My love and devotion to Baylor University goes back to my very first visit to Baylor as a 4th grade Royal Ambassador attending a Baylor football game.  Baylor literally means the world to me and the opportunity to “give back” to her would be not only a great honor and privilege, but a responsibility of the highest order.  

How is the mission of Baylor University unique?

The mission of Baylor University is unique not only among colleges and universities around the world, but even among the other fine Baptist affiliated universities in Texas.  Baylor’s mission statement is more than a perfunctory goal, but a guiding document for all Baylor stands for.  The Mission – TO EDUCATE MEN AND WOMEN…. Lest we forget why we were chartered in 1845, Baylor University’s number one priority is to provide the very best college education possible.  This mission must remain before us at all times.  FOR WORLDWIDE LEADERSHIP AND SERVICE…education at Baylor intentionally involves global leadership preparation which is more important in today’s world than ever before in our history.  True leadership however, will always involve service to others, with others, and for the good of others.  Servant leadership was Jesus model and is the model presented at Baylor.  BY INTEGRATING ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE…all Baylor Alumni will attest that this mission component has been a part of Baylor’s DNA since her birth at Independence (think of your Baylor professors and those honored as Master Teachers!)  AND CHRISTIAN COMMITMENT…Baylor continues to be unapologetically committed to Christ in all areas of the university.  This is no easy task, but Baylor seriously takes this component of her mission to heart daily in a spirit of love and grace.   Christ likeness and a commitment to Jesus Christ in all areas of the university is a hallmark of Baylor University.  WITHIN A CARING COMMUNITY… unique indeed!  Baylor cares for her students, faculty, staff, employees, alumni, and friends.  Baylor is community.  Commitment to that sense of community is valued and truly sets Baylor apart from so many other universities.  The days when community were not respected and celebrated, always led to chaos and crisis within the Baylor family.

What was your experience like as a student at Baylor?

I was a first-generation college student whose life was touched and molded in every area of my personhood while a student at Baylor.  In academics, I was challenged daily by professors who poured into me the importance of excellence in learning and the demands of scholarship. Baylor gave me a love for lifelong learning and critical thinking.  Baylor professors allowed me to see the mind and heart as complimentary to each other within the whelm of education.  While at Baylor I made friends, who remain dear companions to this day.  Relationships were important at Baylor and those ties remain strong after all these years.  As an incoming Freshman during Welcome Week in 1981, I first learned about Baylor’s desire for me to grow mentally, socially, spiritually, and physically during my Baylor years.  Those four disciples have forever been instilled in my life due to Baylor. The day I purchased my Baylor ring, the day I received my Baylor diploma, and the day I became a Lifetime Member of the Baylor Alumni Association are HUGE on my” favorite day” list! (Wedding day to my Baylor wife and birthday of my Baylor kids rank as number one and two for the record!)  My Baylor experience was just about perfect!

What have been the most encouraging changes at Baylor over the last few years?

The most recent encouraging change at Baylor has been the inauguration of our new President.  I am thrilled with the leadership of President Livingstone.  I believe she is providing the stability, the passion, the vision, and the transparency Baylor needs as we move forward.   Through the past days of turmoil and darkness, I believe Baylor has become stronger and more committed to our mission, to our students, to our alumni, and to all who are willing to look intently at our beloved school.  The Alumni Elected Regent position is so needed and such a positive addition to the Board of Regents.  The desire for board transparency in all areas of university life was a most important move by our administration and regents and must continue to be even more so in the days ahead.  Baylor is family.  Family can be difficult, but in the end, we are still family.  Diversity without division and unity without uniformity makes for a strong family and I believe a strong university as well.

What strengths would you bring to the table as an alumni-elected Regent?

I have attempted to pattern my ministry as a pastor on Jesus model of servant leadership.  I believe we are all called to “take up the towel” of servanthood and in the spirit of Jesus to “wash each other’s feet”.  We all have been gifted with various talents and abilities and all are needed, and all are important.  As a pastor, I am a consensus builder and peace maker.  I long to bring people together and seek solutions to all problems.   I long to be a voice of reason and moderation.  I would bring a unique perspective to the Board of Regents. I am not only a Baylor Alumnus and a parent of 2 current Baylor students, but I am a former Baylor administrative staff member having served as Director of Baylor Church Engagement.  Baylor without a doubt has the finest students (I know 2 of them extremely well), the finest alumni (I know hundreds of them well), and the finest staff, professors, and employees.  During my years of employment as Baylor I worked with the finest men and women I have ever encountered.  I would be honored to serve as an Alumni Elected Regent serving on behalf of all the Baylor family.

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