Understanding the foundational pillars that support Illuminate
Last year, the Baylor Family was introduced to Illuminate, the university’s academic strategic plan to guide Baylor further towards its goals as a preeminent Christian research institution. A lot of attention has been paid to the plan’s five academic initiatives — signature areas such as health and data sciences where Baylor has a lot to offer. But undergirding those are Illuminate‘s four pillars — principles that have shaped Baylor since its founding, and will continue to define the university in the years ahead.
The four pillars — unambiguously Christian educational environment, transformational undergraduate education, research and scholarship marked by quality, impact and visibility, and nationally recognized programs in human performance through arts and athletics — serve as a “true north” on the roadmap to Baylor’s future.
In recent episodes of the “Baylor Connections” radio program/podcast, President Livingstone has shared in-depth about each pillar:
Unambiguously Christian educational environment: “Our Christian values anchor everything we do at this institution. In the context of a research institution, it informs the questions we ask, the impact we want our research to have, and the recognition that all truth is God’s truth. Transforming the mind is central to who we are at Baylor. Faith provides a deeper way for our students to think about their life and their work.”
Transformational Undergraduate Education: “That’s something we’ve been doing since our founding. It means taking students as they come in, wherever they are, and giving them experiences both inside the classroom and out that will help them develop personally, professionally and spiritually in ways they never would have before they came. It means preparing them to make an even greater impact on the world.”
Research and Scholarship: “We care about the impact of our faculty’s research. Does it make a difference? We care about student engagement that builds life-changing deep learning. We care about spiritual formation. In our view, our goal to become a ‘Research-1’ university blends all three of those values, conducting impactful research and gives Baylor a seat at the table to be that Christian voice addressing our biggest societal issues.”
Arts and Athletics: “Athletics serve as the front porch of the university. Our athletic programs perform at the highest levels and do so in a way consistent with the mission and vision of this university. The arts also bring people together, building community. Artists help us understand societal problems in different ways, providing us with a different lens to look at topics and encouraging us to think deeply.”
Baylor’s founders envisioned a Christian university “fully susceptible of enlargement and development to meet the needs of all the ages to come.” While they may never have conceived of data sciences, they knew the world needed (and would continue to need) a place like Baylor. Similarly, today’s Baylor leaders recognize that our faculty and students will blaze new trails as they strive for solutions to impact our greatest societal problems, but that the foundational values that shape the ways Baylor scholars approach those problems remain steadfast across campus.
Sic ’em, Illuminate!