This book is the culmination of an initiative undertaken by the Council of Deans of Baylor University. Under the leadership of Bradley J. B. Toben, Dean of the Law School at Baylor, the Council of Deans sponsored a two-day, university-wide colloquy on April 10-11, 2003, entitled, "The Baptist and Christian Character of Baylor." All the speakers and respondents for the colloquy were assured that the colloquy was to be of such quality that every paper would merit publication in a volume to be published after the conference. Since the two of us have worked together for many years at Baylor and have collaborated on numerous writing projects, we were asked to serve as co-editors, even though one of us might appear to have had a greater personal interest in the project. We believe that our objectivity and integrity as co-editors have not been compromised by the fact that the Council of Deans’ purpose in planning the colloquy was to honor one of us, Donald Schmeltekopf, retiring Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs of Baylor.
The idea for the colloquy and this publication emerged from a meeting of the Council of Deans in November 2002. In an unusual departure from the standard agenda of this group, the Council of Deans agreed to devote its entire November meeting to a discussion of a series of papers from the University of Notre Dame under the general theme, "Conversation on the Catholic Character of Notre Dame," held in 1994. The debate then going on at Notre Dame regarding its religious identity seemed particularly relevant to some of the burning questions and issues occupying our minds at Baylor. As our discussion came to a close, it was clear to all present - ten deans, the chair of the Faculty Senate, and the Provost - that a conference of the kind held at Notre Dame would be useful, stimulating, and timely for Baylor. The title for the conference was right before our collective eyes, "A Colloquy on the Baptist and Christian Character of Baylor." The deans agreed soon thereafter that the Council of Deans would sponsor the event, under the leadership of the Law School.
We believe this colloquy was important for many reasons, but we would like to specify three. First, it provided an opportunity for Baylor faculty members, administrators, and others in attendance to think in a fairly systematic way about the nature of our deepest religious convictions and about how these convictions might contribute to our excellence as a Christian university. Second, the intellectual weight of the colloquy was provided overwhelmingly by Baylor faculty members who represent diverse perspectives on the issues. Third, the conference was an open and free debate’an argument in the best sense of the word’on the most fundamental issues facing Baylor today, especially those surrounding the academic mission and aspirations of the university.
We hope you the reader finds this collection of essays enlightening and thought provoking, whether you are identified with Baylor, with another church-related college or university, or with the wider American higher education community.
The editors would like to note their indebtedness to the following members of the Baylor Law Review who assisted in the editing and authority cite checking of this manuscript: Geoff Culbertson, (the editor-in-chief of the Law Review), Jonathan Brush, Carrie Carter, Joseph Price, Scott Snellings, J.R. Vicha, and Susan Whatley. We also wish to thank Becky Shulda, Jami Symank, and Linda Lampert for their help with manuscript preparation.
We are pleased to dedicate this book to the faculty members of Baylor University-past and present. The greatness that is Baylor's is owing primarily and overwhelmingly to the work of her faculty over the years. We are proud to be among its number.
Donald D. Schmeltekopf
Provost Emeritus and the Hazel and Harry Chavanne Professor of Christian Ethics in Business Dianna Vitanza
Associate Professor of English September 2003