Remarks by Randy Woodruff

October 13, 2003

Good afternoon. My name is Randy Woodruff. Two years ago I was presented with the opportunity to return to Baylor University, my alma mater, and work in the Information Technology Services department. At that time, the very earliest information on Baylor 2012 was being released. Information was still a bit hard to come by, but what I heard was bold and exciting. Frankly, this inspiring new vision was one of the reasons that I chose to come to Waco.

Baylor 2012 is not the only reason I came to central Texas. From 1978 to 1982 I was a student here. During that time I became a Christian, found my wife to be (she was a staff member) and discovered a field that would become my vocation. The students and faculty and staff of Baylor made a huge impression on me and pointed me in directions that would define my life. I owe a debt of gratitude and more to the vision and ideals and people of Baylor University. And it is about that vision and those ideals and even more about the people of Baylor University that we are gathered here today.

As we all know, Baylor has experienced a turbulent, a tumultuous summer. The summer is spilling over to a fall of discord. Critics abound and discontent appears to be rampant. The media has a critical and valuable role to play in our society and I in no way want to impugn the job they are doing. However, as the summer progressed, I felt more and more that the Baylor reported and described in so many outlets bore little resemblance to the Baylor that I encounter every day. Did some terrible things happen? Yes. The death of a student and the subsequent revelations have been shocking and terribly disappointing. Do we have to deal with these issues and their consequences? Absolutely. However, are these events and issues the whole story about this university? I say they are not.

From where I stand the oft-reported discontent bears little in common with the reality in which I live and work. Among staff members with whom I work, our challenges come not from direction or support, but from an earnest desire on the part of so many staff members to create the best possible environment and experience for our students. Disappointment and dejection come not from intimidation or a lack of caring from our leaders, but from a sense of disappointment that our university is being recognized only for that which is ugly and base when we know there is so much more to the story.

Some say we are making a radical departure from the past. I respectfully disagree. It was the distinctly Baptist and Christian influence of Baylor in 1978 that lead me to Christ in September of that year. Today, Baylor's direction and leadership aim to renew and strengthen that influence. That spirit is evident in the language of Baylor 2012, the programs reaching out to our students and in the language that I hear from our leaders.

It was concerned and caring faculty members that engaged me in research as part of my classroom experience 20+ years ago. Beyond the classroom, both faculty and staff helped me find a vocation in life. In hiring both the next generation and increasing numbers of productive, thoughtful and caring scholar-teachers, I find a continuation of what made Baylor great when I was in school and gives Baylor the opportunity to be greater yet. Baylor's direction and leadership have assembled and continue to attract a spectacular array of scholar-teacher-mentors. Baylor's academic leadership and religious vision are on track to build that even greater Baylor.

It appears to me that Baylor's future and past are in harmony in so many respects. While all living organisms and institutions change, I find the over-arching goals of yesterday and today to be in synch with one another. Our students are still our top priority. Our commitment to Christ still serves as the basis for our desire to serve our students, our community, our respective disciplines and our university. Our leaders, including Robert Sloan, and our continuing vision for excellence in Christian education provide not only the environment where all this may be accomplished, but those leaders are showing the way through their words and their actions.

Many members of the Baylor family have expressed their opinions on a range of subjects in the past few weeks. The regents of our university meet over the next few days and I pray the members of our family will respond positively to whatever decisions they make. I believe this is a time to trust those who have the responsibility for governing this institution. I strongly encourage all members of the Baylor family to join us in serving the current and future generations of students by supporting our university and her leaders at this time.