Why is Baylor increasing its emphasis on research?
Since her arrival on campus, Baylor President Linda Livingstone has often discussed Baylor’s aim to fill a unique space in the world of higher education — to become one of the few preeminent Christian research universities in the nation. Baylor’s academic strategic plan, Illuminate, lays out some of the ways the university plans to meet this bold goal of becoming a Tier One (“R-1”) institution when it comes to research.
So why is research so important for a university — or, more specifically, why is research so important for Baylor?
“For a really excellent undergraduate education, you have to have really excellent research scholarship, because that keeps your faculty fresh, it keeps them pumping the right material into the room, and it keeps the students excited.
“For alums, the obvious reason is that you want your alma mater to continually get better, because that adds value to your degree… That’s exactly what’s happening here. We’re continuing to grow and expand and get better. The added bonus is that we’re doing it while maintaining our Christian mission. …
“If you look at the world, I think pretty much all of us can agree that we’re in desperate need of a Christian voice on the scene. So often, conversations occur, whether they be inside the Beltway or at the Hague, and there’s not a Christian voice at that table. The reason for that, often times, is there’s not someone who’s qualified in terms of the scholarly work that has to be done. … That’s one of the reasons that the idea of a Christian research university is so important. It’s the reason so many of us are still here, and the reason so many bright, young, outstanding faculty come here.
“In terms of the local community, if you look at any thriving metropolitan area, the majority of the time, there’s a university that’s pushing the underlying infrastructure and financial health of the area. … Ten or 15 years ago, Waco commissioned a consulting group to come in and take a look at how to raise the overall average wage of people in McLennan County. One of the first things that come out of that study was, ‘You need a research university. You need something that drives the wage up.’ That’s one of the reasons there was so much support from the community for the idea of Baylor becoming an R-1 university. …
“It’s an exciting goal… There’s not a lot of opportunity out there if you want to go to a university that’s unapologetically Christian and also an R-1 university. This is our hole card. If you have a faculty member who is a Christian who also values excellence in teaching and research, we’re perhaps one of the few pretty good choices.”
In short, research makes our professors better teachers, which helps our students; it helps bring new jobs to Waco, which helps our community; it improves Baylor’s reputation, which helps alumni worldwide; and it provides Christian scholars in a world that needs that voice, benefitting us all.
Sic ’em, Baylor researchers!
[By the way — if you’re a fan of podcasts, you really should check out “Baylor Connections.” Each week, host Derek Smith — who you might recognize as the PA announcer at McLane Stadium and the Ferrell Center, and the radio voice of Baylor baseball — interviews a different guest from around Baylor about some aspect of the university. Click here to subscribe on iTunes, or search “Baylor Connections” in your favorite podcast app.]