Institute for Faith and Learning puts Baylor’s mission at the forefront
For more than 170 years, Baylor has focused on two founding principles: outstanding academics, and Christian commitment. Countless outstanding people — professors, students, staff and others — have played important roles in helping the university stick to its mission for so long, while so many other schools have wandered away from their faith.
Almost 20 years ago, university leaders established a special department to help make sure Baylor would remain true to its mission. Founded in 1997, the Institute for Faith and Learning (IFL) aims “to assist Baylor in achieving its mission of integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment, and its goal of becoming a university of the first rank committed to its Baptist and Christian heritage.”
IFL is something uniquely Baylor — an organization that provides resources and encouragement to help students, faculty, staff, administrators and others consider and discover the relationship between the life of the mind and the life of faith.
“IFL’s purpose is to help Baylor imagine and realize its calling to be a university animated in every aspect by its Christian faith,” says Dr. Darin Davis, MA ’95, vice president for university mission and director of the IFL. “We hope to lift Baylor’s sights in many areas– teaching, mentoring, high-caliber research — but also in the way our community ought to exemplify the charitable pursuit of truth. Our goal is to serve Baylor and her students, faculty and staff, so that they might in turn serve others.”
Davis says that IFL is a facilitator, in that its members work with professors and staff to help them communicate to students how their discipline can be used to minister to others; IFL also works with students who desire to find more than just a job or major, but a true calling and purpose. IFL helps both formally and informally, sometimes through simple conversations, lunches or reading groups, and regularly through planned events and programs that advance their goals on a broader level.
Among their most recognizable programs are the Crane Scholars Program and Conyers Scholars Program, intensive programs for Baylor undergraduate (Crane) and graduate (Conyers) students interested in the connections between faith and reason. They also sponsor the annual Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture, a conference where hundreds of scholars, students and administrators from across the nation convene to reflect and discuss critical questions about faith in various topics (such as higher education, sports and film). Other programs include Communio, an annual retreat for Baylor faculty and staff, and the Bill and Roberta Bailey Family Lecture in Christian Ethics.
“The chance to be a part of the community at Baylor is a tremendous blessing, because at our very best we are a place and a people that seeks and loves the right things,” Davis says. “My colleagues and I in IFL count it as a tremendous honor and joy to be a part of Baylor’s sacred mission.”
Sic ’em, Baylor Institute for Faith and Learning!