Dean's Update - April 15, 2022

April 15, 2022

Dear Colleagues:

Do you know Christina Rossetti’s moving Good Friday poem? Here it is:

Beneath Thy Cross

Am I a stone, and not a sheep,
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy Blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?

Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented Thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;

Not so the Sun and Moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon—
I, only I.

Yet give not o’er,
But seek Thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.

Rossetti’s plaintive self-indictment begins with the first line, continues in the middle stanzas through contrasts with mortal and cosmic lament at Christ’s passion, and gathers at the end with an appeal to the mercy of the Lord.

We are supposed to be moved by Christ on the cross. Who wouldn’t be? Weeping, grieving, stricken hiding from horror too great to bear—such ought to be ours, Rossetti sees. Yet what if we are more stone than sheep? What if, notwithstanding the model of the Marys, and Peter, and even the thief, we stand and do not weep before Christ’s cross? Let us then also trust like Rossetti in one greater than Moses to work miracles of our stony hearts.

Numbers 20 relates the account of Moses’s striking of the rock. We are told that water gushed from the stone. This wondrous miracle governs Rossetti’s final line. Not a little tear or a gentle weep are wanted, but an outpouring of sobbing, soulful love of Jesus, who being God “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Dispassionate reason has its place. Analytical rigor can be aided by circumspect emotional distance from what one studies. On this day, however, may we weep for love of Christ, sorrow for sin, and hope of redemption. Happy Good Friday, my friends.

Within the life of the Honors College, take note of special news and developments:

• Last month, we celebrated the creation of a new endowed chair in the Honors College. The University’s news release about Jim and Sharon Harrod’s gift and their vision is here. The Harrods’ generosity is part of a tremendous year of expanding resources, with Honors College-designated endowment growing from $20.2 million to $27 million, a remarkable year-over-year increase of 33.5%. The majority of these resources support student scholarships, thereby helping us recruit high-ability undergraduates and make exemplary Christian education more affordable for them.

• I’m happy to announce the launch of an Undergraduate Research Assistant Program. The program fulfills purposes related to Pro Futuris and Illuminate: (a) to provide additional support for research productive faculty; (b) to enlarge the education of undergraduates, extend new forms of mentoring to them, and offer them experience with research methods; and (c) to exercise judicious stewardship, with attention “to the broader market in which we compete for the best and brightest undergraduate” students. Details, including application procedures, will be available soon.

• In collaboration with the Graduate School, we inaugurated a post-doctoral teaching fellowship program last year. Our first post-doc, Rebecca Cassady, has taught core cores in the BIC and GTX programs. As Becca wraps up her post-doc, I’m delighted to name Michael Gonzalez (Political Science, Ph.D., expected August 2022) as our post-doctoral teaching fellow for 2022-23. Michael was selected through a competitive process that included nomination by his department, vetting by the Graduate School, and committee review within the Honors College. We’re grateful for your contributions, Becca, and we welcome you warmly among us, Michael.

• Two Honors Program faculty are 2022 recipients of the Elizabeth Vardaman Award for Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduates: Erika Abel, clinical professor of biology, and Victor Hinojosa, associate professor of political science. Two more with close connections to the HC also received the award: Jennifer Good, associate professor of German and former director of the UNSC program, and Ginger Hanchey, senior lecturer in English and associate director of the UNSC program. The award recognizes faculty “who go beyond the call of duty in their mentorship of undergraduates, demonstrating excellence in, and sustained commitment to, helping these students excel through engaged learning activities.” Well done Erika, Victor, Jennifer, and Ginger!

• Only two months ago, we still had facemask requirements in classrooms. While COVID-19 remains a reality and responsiveness to changes in public health conditions is important, we have entered a new phase in which celebratory gatherings are welcome. On that note, please plan for an Honors College Celebration next month. Dates and venue are being confirmed, but May 18 or 19 are likely. Good food and drink, highlights of 2021-22, a preview of next year, and ample time in colleagues’ company are in store.

All the best,

Douglas V. Henry | Dean
Honors College | Baylor University | 254.710.7689