Struggle for the Heart & Soul of Baylor

February 12, 2003

Baylor 2012 has Baylorites across the nation talking and asking questions ranging from "Why?" to "How much?" At the core of the conversation, though, is one overriding concern: Are we going to lose the Baylor we know and love?
In the stories that follow, (listed separately below for easier reading), Baylor Magazine explores the evolution of the Vision and examines the pros and cons of two broad issues within it that most specifically affect the University's educational mission: 
1) the viability of scholarship, research and publication attuned to Christian thinking and practice, and its consequent implications on faculty hiring and tenure-review practices; and
2) the fiscal approach of the University, which includes a new flat-rate tuition structure and increased indebtedness.




Ambitious, bold, even quixotic. Baylor 2012, the University?s 10-year Vision, has been characterized as all that and more. It asks administrators, faculty, students and alumni to re-examine many of their most-cherished values. And it challenges the Baylor family to build upon the best of what has been to create what does not now exist: a top-tier national research university in the Protestant tradition. 
Attempting this much change in this short of a time period seems nearly overwhelming, not to mention a little scary. Those who fully support the University's goals are excited about the aspirations; others are more uncertain, concerned that the Vision will erode what many believe to be the heart and soul of Baylor - a strong undergraduate, liberal arts, affordable education taught in a Christian environment - no more than that and no less.
Since its release in October 2001, the 2012 document has generated more buzz about Baylor than anything since the 1990 charter change, which restructured the composition of the governing body of the University, ensuring it could not be controlled by factions within the Baptist denominational structure. 
In biblical terms, if the charter change was a squabble among the Israelite tribes, Vision 2012 casts Baylor in the role of a David among Goliaths - trying to crash into the land of academic giants with a handful of stones and a lot of faith. Part of the challenge before the world's largest Baptist university is answering hard questions from those who have genuine concerns about the direction the University is taking.