A Tale of Two StoriesThis year finds the Line exploring BAA's core values and history
By Todd Copeland, Editor
issues ago, in this space, I discussed how the Baylor Alumni
Association (BAA) has been in the process of exploring the issues
contained with its recent core values statement through a series of
feature stories. These core values were presented in a special issue of
the Line in December 2007 that featured the phrase "What We Believe" on the cover.
Of the BAA's five core values, so far we have explored issues contained within three of them.
The spring 2008 issue
carried a cover story on the rising price of higher education—a story
based on the BAA's core value that states, "We believe in keeping a
Baylor education accessible for the leaders of tomorrow."
In the summer 2008 issue,
we ran two feature stories based on another core value: "We believe in
the strength of a community based on transparency, open communication,
shared governance, and the free marketplace of ideas."
The fall 2008 issue,
in turn, featured a story on the history of Baylor's founding,
extending from the core value that asserts, "We believe in the original
design of the founders of Baylor."
In this issue, we are moving on to a fourth core value: "We believe in
Baylor University's distinctive combination of academic excellence and
Christian witness as a Baptist institution."
To be sure, cultivating the life of the mind and the life of the spirit
have long stood as the twin pillars of Baylor's mission. They stand
strong today, just as they did back in the nineteenth century when the
university was located in Independence. They stand strong today just as
the columns from one of Baylor's original buildings still stand down at
Baylor Park on the first campus.
In this issue, news editor Meg Cullar provides an in-depth portrait of
how Baylor fosters a mutually strengthening relationship between the
life of the spirit and the life of the mind.
In presenting the many ways in which Baylor's administrators, faculty,
and staff work to develop Baylor students' spiritual life, her story
shows how Baylor’s Christian commitment—one of the "pillars"—is added
to the university's academic excellence to create a distinctive
environment as an institution of higher learning. That environment is
what makes Baylor Baylor.
Of course, we regularly provide our readers with coverage of the"academic excellence" side of those twin pillars, too.
From communication studies students learning the ins and outs of film
production by participating in the filming of an actual movie with
their professors to the recent advent of "Engaged Learning Groups" that
take students on multi-semester journeys of study and research in a
particular field, during the last year the Line
has covered a wide range of topics and programs that demonstrate
Baylor's academic excellence across campus. And you can bet we'll
continue covering such academic programs, which offer Baylor students
tremendous opportunities for learning and growth.
In addition to the continuation of our core values explorations, this issue of the Line marks the beginning of a series of four feature stories that will celebrate the Baylor Alumni Association's sesquicentennial.
Created in 1859, the BAA will observe its 150th anniversary this year,
and our feature stories will focus on several themes of service to
Baylor across that lengthy span of time.
That's quite a milestone, and we certainly have a lot of history to
look back on and to give thanks for. But at this point in the BAA's
life, there is just as much eager expectation for the future as there
is grateful reflection on the past. The BAA today is building upon the
firm foundation laid by the alumni association's early leaders.
And today's alumni association leaders—who, beyond the staff, are
dedicated alumni serving as volunteers—know they have a great
opportunity before them of charting a course for our organization that
will result in another 150 years of service to Baylor.