Voices: Alumni Weigh in on the Previous issue and Current Events

by Cheryl Campbell | January 10, 2019

On our last issue about the new academic strategic plan called Illuminate:

First let me say that this was one of the finest pieces of journalism I have read on this or any subject. It thoroughly investigated what the Illuminate project means (in ways I could understand) and presented a variety of thoughts to be considered in our forward progress on that front. Thank you so very much for all the hard work that went into it. The artwork, also, was thought-provoking – something we could all do a little of, before we plunge down this highway that I had no idea was so “school-changing”.

These are statements in articles in the Summer 2018 Edition of the Baylor Line that I highlighted to think about, along with my thoughts:

∗ At times, it can feel like a commitment to research is a departure from Baylor’s traditional identity. While in my undergraduate studies (1971-1973) I took 2 Poli Sci courses, one by a professor who was “published” and did much research who was like a drone talking, gave tests that weren’t in the lectures or the textbook (I made an A anyway) – it was my first semester and I was told he was “easy”. The next semester I had a Poli Sci professor who was passionate about teaching. We studied and discussed in class Supreme Court cases – it was exciting and I learned quite a bit about those particular cases and also how cases are decided. The contrast between those 2 professors was stark and ever impressed on me the danger of requiring that someone passionate about teaching “get published” or satisfy some research requirements. I saw it elsewhere, too. But, the passionate teachers far outweighed the research scholars who just took up space in a classroom, so my time was a good time.

∗ Alumni, rightfully, have strong feelings about Baylor’s identity. My 4 years at Baylor were transformative in my life – mentally, emotionally and spiritually. They were a huge part of who I have been since then and everyone who has known me since that time say I “bleed green and gold” – before the shirt was made!! The spiritual bedrock that was there and the opportunity for someone of my family’s limited resources, a Southern Baptist girl who became a Christian at age 8 and wanted to go to Baylor since Jr. High, was so incredibly exciting and rewarding for me. You can’t say it was sports because we only won one FB game my first year and that’s how it had been for many years, so let’s just don’t go there!

∗ Why must Baylor exist? Baylor is unique among all colleges and universities, I think. The quality of education it provides is evident by the respect that a degree (and I have 2) from there brings. It is a place of integrity and a place where students are trained, in whatever field they choose, to go out into the world and whether full-time or in their spare time proclaim their faith in Jesus Christ and lead others to Him. If not us, then who? We are living in times where excuses are made for departing from Biblical principles and Baylor needs to be a place you can depend on to at least have exposed students to those principles and explained why they are important and lead to the best quality of life. And, in the beginning, when students first arrive, Baylor must remember that they are still children on a journey to adulthood and need guidance, rules, and consequences for breaking those rules. (I like the fact that Kim Mulkey calls her girls “kids”, so that she will remember that they are that – kids, and need that support and structure.)

(See article by Dr. Larry Lyon.) My paraphrase: Science, art, and literature all have moved away from faith where they had their foundation when the ivy league schools were established as Christian schools. Do we think Baylor is going to “stay the course” when the others have not been able to do so? Our faith being 1 of 4 pillars does not seem enough to me. It should be the one pillar upon which all others rest.

∗ Should we do everything possible to become T1/R1? One of the things I admired most about Ken Starr was when he came, he asked alumni (novel idea) what they most wanted to see and we almost all said that Baylor be much more affordable. He immediately established the President’s Scholarship initiative and we all gave! I have no desire to give to fund research. I want to fund outstanding teaching (and I had some great ones that will long be remembered in Baylor’s history) to eager young learners.

∗ We want to hire faculty who believe in and support our Christian mission as a university. If I read correctly, this will be increasingly difficult since, in order to get research funding, we will be required to hire faculty whose beliefs and values not only are not Christian but are the antithesis and would be role models for the very students we are hoping to go out and change the world – in the name of the Lord.

I see lots of talk about grant proposals, post-award work – is the tuition of “regular” students (who do not come to Baylor for the research) going toward this, not to mention the research itself? My giving in the future depends on the answer to that question and the affordability of a Baylor education to people like me – I saved since Jr. High, my parents worked, I worked on campus and saved and I got a partial (1/5 of total) scholarship and we made it! 2 degrees with no car 125 miles from home, but no sacrifice on my part was too big to go to Baylor!

I have thought about if there is a possibility of “separating” the students like me (so we could afford to attend) from those expensive buildings and dorms and research. No, online is not the answer. I lived in the dorm 2 years and that was definitely part of my learning experience – the “going away” to college growing up period. I’m not sure that’s feasible, but someone could certainly entertain the idea – you never know what might come of it. What if undergrads had rather have an affordable learning experience at Baylor than be involved in research – again, no way, without separating, that research doesn’t come at a price for the undergrad?

Yes, you do have to regain my trust, especially in the area of transparency for alumni. We all are so grateful to the Baylor Line Foundation and, at this point in time, especially in light of recent years’ events and the board’s handling of them (still can’t get over that the board reports to no one), we need the BLF to be our eyes and ears.

∗ Joining alongside Notre Dame, Duke, Boston College What impact for Christ do these institutions have now – in our country and then in the world?

∗ How will Waco benefit? It is fair to question why Waco students cannot afford to go to Baylor. Is the answer to raise the wages of Wacoans? It seems like that’s the plan, but will it raise everybody’s, or just the new people who come in? Or should there be an emphasis or making Baylor more affordable?

Submitted by Cheryl Campbell, BA ’73, MA ’75

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