Dean's Update - September 19, 2022

September 19, 2022

Dear Colleagues:

With millions, I sadly received news of Queen Elizabeth’s death, and I mourn as she’s laid to rest today. All grasp the staggering longevity of Her Majesty’s service. Many have honored her grace and fortitude through national and personal tragedy. Some have noted the magnanimity and humility borne of her Christian faith, itself central to her monarchical vocation.

Among the latter is journalist Terry Mattingly (BA ’76, MA ’84), whose recent column addresses Queen Elizabeth’s faith. He recalls what C.S. Lewis wrote about her coronation in 1953:

. . . the Queen herself appeared to be quite overwhelmed by the sacramental side of it. . . . – awe – pity – pathos – mystery. The pressing of that huge, heavy crown on that small, young head becomes a sort of symbol of the situation of humanity itself: humanity called by God to be His vice-regent and high priest on earth, yet feeling so inadequate. As if He said, ‘In my inexorable love I shall lay upon the dust that you are glories and dangers and responsibilities beyond your understanding.’ . . . [O]ne feels that we have all been crowned and that coronation is somehow, if splendid, a tragic splendour.

Mattingly also notes the Christian wisdom of Queen Elizabeth’s public addresses. In her first Christmas message, telecast in 1957, she observes the pace of technological change and explains that while sometimes disruptive, “new inventions” are rarely themselves problems. Instead,

The trouble is caused by unthinking people who carelessly throw away ageless ideals as if they were old and outworn machinery. They would have religion thrown aside, morality in personal and public life made meaningless, honesty counted as foolishness and self-interest set up in place of self-restraint.

It’s rare to see a head of state committed to the deep-down, transformative renewal of mind to which St. Paul points in Romans 12:2. We should give thanks for Her Majesty’s life and faith, and for her stewardship of ageless ideals through headache and heartbreak, in season and out of season. We should hope for others, near and far, on the foundation of whose Christian love and wisdom are built up the edifices of our shared life.

We also ought to reflect on Lewis’s reverie, with its invitation to ponder what it means to have laid on us, dust that we are, “glories and dangers and responsibilities” beyond understanding. My friends, ours is a weighty, momentous calling. May we honor it, cognizant of the greatness of the King whose realm we serve, and committed our whole life to faithful, humble, joyful service.

Please note the following within the life of the Honors College:

• Two weeks from today, one of our major annual events will take place. I seek everyone’s presence and participation at the Laura Blanche Jackson Lecture in World Issues featuring Hal Brands on the topic: The Twilight Struggle: What History Can Teach Us About America’s Rivalries with China and Russia Today. The lecture will take place on Monday, October 3 at 7:00 p.m. in Cashion 506. As we gather, let’s show hospitality to our guests, enjoy companionable conversation together, and exemplify generous Christian intellectual community for our students.

• At our faculty and staff meeting last month, I shared a Five-Year Plan for the Honors College. The plan is built around key elements of Illuminate and Pro Futuris: Christian vision; transformational undergraduate education; research and scholarship marked by quality, impact, and visibility; and judicious stewardship. As we advance the University’s mission together, know that I value your ideas and initiative in supporting all the aspirations outlined in the plan, along with your help in identifying other ways to raise the quality of our work.

• Recent years have brought elevated institutional attention to diversity and inclusion. The University has written a Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion. Special advisor to the president, Malcolm Foley, and vice provost for faculty diversity and belonging, Stephen Reid, have joined other faithful colleagues in bringing leadership and wisdom to the flourishing of our whole university community, especially lifting up the needs of our underrepresented faculty, staff, and students. Concomitant to these and many associated efforts, I’m happy to share a 2022-23 Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Plan for the Honors College. I welcome your collaboration and support in this important work.

• Two years ago, Provost Nancy Brickhouse transferred summer sabbatical budgets to the various colleges and schools, and she asked deans to utilize funds to advance faculty research in service to Illuminate. With appreciation for advice from our Research Leave Committee (Lynne Hinojosa, Chuck McDaniel, and Rob Miner), I’m delighted to provide three alternative forms of research support:

Undergraduate Research Assistant Program. Designed to support faculty research and to provide undergraduates distinctive opportunities for learning and mentoring, the URA program has already seen several current year projects approved. Application information is available here.

Matching Support for Grant-Funded Summer Salary. The HC is assigned specific annual goals for research grant proposal submissions, awards, and expenditures. We regularly fall short of said goals. To incentivize applications for external grant support, HC faculty are now eligible to have each research grant-funded summer month of salary matched by a subsequent dean-funded summer month of salary.

Research Travel Fund. Departmental travel budgets remain the primary source of support for presentation of faculty research at conferences. However, after departmental resources are exhausted, faculty with additional needs for research travel may appeal by direct email to me with requests.

My aim is to offer a generous yes to all requests so long as resources allow. Once the budget is expended, deferrals to a subsequent year, where possible, will be the norm.

All the best,

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