The Honors College is excited to announce that Dr. Alejandro Castrillón has accepted appointment as Assistant Professor of Political Science in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core (BIC). He is set to begin service this fall.
The Baylor University Honors College announces the appointment of Dr. Kristen Drahos as Assistant Professor of Great Texts and Theology. Dr. Drahos will begin teaching this fall.
After a highly competitive search, the Baylor Honors College announces the appointment of Dr. George Njung as Assistant Professor of African Studies in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core (BIC). Dr. Njung will assume his new role this fall.
Earlier this spring, Honors College Dean Douglas Henry announced the launch of the Undergraduate Research Assistant Program. This new program, which directly supports Pro Futuris and Illuminate, will provide support for research productive faculty and give Honors College students the opportunity to learn and be mentored as they assist professors.
The Honors College is excited to announce that Dr. Darren J.N. Middleton, John F. Weatherly Professor of Religion at Texas Christian University, has accepted appointment as Director of the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core. In addition to his administrative role, he will hold a tenured faculty appointment in the BIC as Professor of Literature and Theology. He is set to begin service effective August 1.
Seven months ago, Baylor’s Honors College embarked on a journey to create the world’s largest Dante reading group through 100 Days of Dante. With the help of Biola University, Gonzaga University, Whitworth University, the University of Dallas, and Eastern University, the project led over 15,000 people from across the globe through the Divine Comedy.
Honors College graduates Samuel Aker, Benjamin “Jack” Young and Angelo Wong were recently named the 2021 recipients of the F. Ray Wilson II Award for Best Thesis, a recognition that rewards excellence in scholarship honoring undergraduate thesis writers in Baylor’s Honors Program.
Do you know Christina Rossetti’s moving Good Friday poem? It's entitled "Beneath the Cross." Her 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. On this day, may we weep for love of Christ, sorrow for sin, and hope of redemption. Happy Good Friday, my friends.
Each year, hundreds of high-achieving students apply for the chance to be named a Getterman Scholar. Along with the prestige of selection comes an annually renewable scholarship that covers full tuition, fees, room and board, along with summer study abroad, research internships, and mission/service trips.
Baylor University’s Honors College is pleased to share that Dr. Matthew Whelan, Assistant Professor of Moral Theology in the Honors Program, has been selected as a Campion Hall Laudato Si’ Research Institute (LSRI) Visiting Fellow.
Thirty-three years ago, a gifted professor nearly persuaded me down the road not taken. Frank Smist’s political science course took stock of a world of Cold War conflict. Those days held relentless awareness of the prospect of nuclear annihilation. To be sure, as the 1980s wound down, Mikhail Gorbachev’s efforts at glasnost and perestroika were welcome, and rumors of a McDonald’s planned in Pushkin Square were sensational. Yet such developments tamped down rather than resolved superpower tension. In spring 1989, no one imagined staggering changes coming later that year when the links of the Iron Curtain broke apart.
C.S. Lewis is ubiquitous. He routinely turns up in conversation. Students know his work and refer to it. Our faculty and staff trace his influence in our lives, sometimes incorporating his books or essays into courses. Alumni and donors frequently bring up Lewis when I see them, calling attention to his accessibility and relevance for ordinary people. Just last week, I spoke with a magnificently generous couple about their love of Lewis. In him they recognize a kindred spirit, a person whose faith and mind work together and whose writing edifies and elevates them.
In 2021, the Baylor Board of Regents approved the renovation and improvement of the Honors Residential College (HRC) along with the development of space in nearby academic facilities for Honors College faculty and staff offices. Spanning both sides of Founders Mall, the Honors College’s new home will create a hub of honors education at the historic heart of the University.
A Baylor University faculty member will use a prestigious grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to make the ideas of one of the greatest medieval philosophers more accessible and understandable to modern readers.
Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! I’m reflecting today on a challenging new book by Roosevelt Montas, known for his past leadership of Columbia University’s celebrated core curriculum. Rescuing Socrates: How Great Books Changed My Life and Why They Matter for a New Generation unites memoir, a defense of liberal education, and critical reflection on Plato, Augustine, Freud, and Gandhi—"four companions . . . [who] speak with intimate familiarity about human experiences that we all share.” Written in first-person voice and full of touching anecdotes, the book is warmly personal and inspiring. It is also attuned to critical identity issues that cut through the heart of American life.
Over the last several months, headlines haven’t shied away from what they call a crisis in the Classics. Some criticism of the great books, echoed in the New York Times Magazine, calls for removing canonical works of epic poetry, drama, and literature because they are tainted by racism.
I recently finished Eric Adler’s The Battle of the Classics: How a Nineteenth-Century Debate Can Save the Humanities Today. It opens with an anecdote from a general education debate that it was Adler’s misfortune to witness.
With humanities education being examined on a national scale, the Honors College is embarking on a year-long initiative to re-envision humanities education through a faculty mentoring program led by Honors College Dean Douglas Henry.
What happens when you thread together autobiography, literary criticism, pedagogical reflection, and travel literature, with Homer’s Odyssey as an organizing principle of it all? One finds out in Daniel Mendelsohn’s touching book, , An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic (Knopf, 2017). Luke Slattery describes the book as Mendelsohn’s “attempt to braid Homer’s fantastical seafaring tale into his own life; his own family story. It’s at once a lit lesson and a travel tale, an autobiography and biography: a double portrait of father and son echoing the bond between Odysseus, eponymous hero of Homer’s tale, and his son Telemachus.”
Much of last week and the coming one, I’m traveling to bring good words about the Honors College to alumni, friends, and donors in the Houston, Washington, DC, and Boston areas. It’s a joy to hold high our accomplishments and to invite others to embrace and support our aspirations. Admiration of the Honors College runs high. I always hear spirited praise of our faculty and staff, and the stories recounted of our students’ successes are touching.
Everyone has a cancer story. Whether they have battled cancer themselves, know someone who just received a diagnosis, or lost a loved one to the disease, no one escapes unscathed.
This summer, nine Baylor Honors Program students were given the opportunity to work shoulder-to-shoulder with MD Anderson cancer researchers hoping to make those cancer stories fewer and further between.
Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth was published in 1989, translated into 30 languages in over 27 million copies, and adapted into an acclaimed miniseries. It begins and ends with a somber line: “The small boys came early to the hanging.” The first hanging, in 1123 A.D., is of an innocent commoner, a penniless minstrel accused of theft. The second hanging, a half-century later, is of guilty aristocrat, a sadistic nobleman involved in Thomas Beckett’s murder. Between the two deaths, Follett limns the lines of a soaring cathedral while he explores the foundations—the pillars of the earth—on which life, longing, and love are built.
One of the humanities’ mainstays, classics, has garnered attention in recent years over racist tropes in ancient texts, problematic interpretations, and whether or not the field should be sustained in its present form. Dan-el Padilla Peralta has voiced the view that classics is “equal parts vampire and cannibal,” and is undeserving of a future in the academy.
Critics let Robert Galbraith’s debut crime novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, pass initially without fanfare, albeit with positive reviews. After Galbraith was revealed as J.K. Rowling’s pseudonym, reviewers rallied to see evidence of its famous author’s brilliance in the novel, some claiming to have quietly intuited it all along. Perhaps so, but it’s a strain to find consequential similarities between Cormoran Strike and Harry Potter, Denmark Street and Diagon Alley, a one-legged, ex-army private detective and an orphaned boy wizard. Character, setting, plot, style, and theme are very different under Galbraith’s hand. Rowling thoroughly reinvented herself as an author.
What comes to mind when you think of correspondence? I recently pondered this question in Fare Forward, a Christian review of ideas that takes its bearings from T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets and seeks to “consider the future / And the past with an equal mind.”
Three weeks ago, we launched the website for 100 Days of Dante. The project honors the seventh centenary of Dante’s death. It expresses—as should everything we undertake—our distinctive academic vocation and University mission. It rallies us around a work of art that Pope Francis praises as “one of the highest expressions of human genius,” one that shows “with poetic beauty the depth of the mystery of God and love.”
Baylor’s Honors College will lead the world’s largest Dante reading group this fall in honor of the 700th anniversary of Dante’s death. Through a beautifully designed, engaging website, we’ll read Dante’s wondrous poem, the Divine Comedy, and discover how it can change our outlook, love of God, and embrace of neighbor.
Erik Larson’s new book, The Splendid and the Vile, has occupied my attention during our recent spell of rainy evenings and weekends. From Churchill’s inner circle to ordinary Londoners, the book elevates very human voices contending with amplified awareness of the thin line between life and death.
Bringing the 2020-21 academic year to a successful conclusion merits more than the usual celebration. Bon mot it may not be, but here’s the best word I have for the occasion: woohoo! I am grateful, I am proud, and I am blessed to serve with you. For all of the creative, excellent, generous, hopeful, meticulous, patient, and steadfast contributions you have made this past year, thank you.
Dean Douglas Henry has announced the appointment of Dr. Jeffrey M. Hunt, Senior Lecturer in Classics, as Director of the University Scholars Program, one of four hallmark academic initiatives of Baylor's Honors College.
As Giving Day approaches we want to thank our many alumni who continue to support the Honors College through both their time and generous giving. One such dedicated alumnus is Dr. Lang (B.A. Social Work 2004, BIC)! After receiving her BA and MA from Baylor in Social Work, Dr. Lang went on to pursue her Ph.D. in Social Work as well as her Masters of Divinity. Dr. Lang currently serves as the director of Tarleton State University’s BSW program. In her Alumni Spotlight, Dr. Lang reflects on the impact of many of her Baylor professors on her college experience and on her teaching practices now. Sic‘em, Dr. Lang!
Spring is upon us and Easter draws nigh! In these days, the grace of resurrected life bursts forth in the natural profusion of the season and in the supernatural work of God in the holy days culminating in Easter. The joyous beauty of Spring—with its echoes of Eden glory, susceptibility to ruin, and redemption through Christ—is celebrated in a sonnet Gerard Manley Hopkins called, simply, “Spring.”
Continuing our emphasis on notable Honors College graduates who have received prestigious fellowships, grants, or scholarships, our Alumni Spotlight this week is Dr. Jamie Gianoutsos! A double major in Political Science and Great Texts of the Western tradition in the honors program, Dr. Gianoutsos received the Marshall Scholarship in 2006. As a Marshall Scholar, she attended a master’s course studying Renaissance literature at the Queen’s University of Belfast and a second major in political thought and intellectual history at the University of Cambridge. Learn more about Dr. Gianoutsos’ incredible journey in this week’s Alumni Spotlight!
Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel, The Road, has provided a sober frame of reference for my recent thinking. Have you read it? A gifted writer’s craft is powerfully at work from the gripping first words to the final poignant scene. But I’m also impressed with the depth and nuance McCarthy’s novel brings to fundamentally important questions of faith. In these respects, we do well to follow many of his cues, albeit with the freedom and joy to express a living, well-tested faith in the Way of Christ, something generally missing and certainly muted in The Road.
On Thursday, February 25th, Baylor Graduate Dr. Keister, along with his four Baylor Graduate interns, educated Honors College students about their great work in Amarillo, Texas to help the poor gain access to free healthcare. After graduating from Baylor summa cum laude with a B.A. in Biology, Dr. Keister went on to become a physician with a big heart to help those in need. Interestingly enough, Dr. Keister identified the significant need for free healthcare in his hometown of Amarillo, Texas. This realization led to the eventual creation of his non-profit, “Heal the City,” in 2013.
On Thursday, February 8th, the Director of the Institute for Faith and Learning and Clinical Professor of Moral Philosophy in the Baylor Honors College, Dr. Darin Davis, gave a Formation series lecture entitled “Some Fools Never Learn.” This lecture identified and analyzed the various forms of foolery as detailed in the book of Proverbs. A well-attended lecture by Honors College students, the contents of this Formation Series will no doubt be a prominent point of discussion for its insightful reflections on the simple, the silly, the stubborn, the scorning, and the steadfast fool.
We live in a world that needs humility and magnanimity, but often lacks them. Is there anything more ridiculous than inordinate pride, than vaunted, self-congratulatory praise? To it, humility is the answer. Aren’t we put off by excessive self-deprecation, by defeatist, woe-is-me despair? To it, magnanimity is the antidote. We need humility and magnanimity, the former so our aspiration to greatness is tempered by gratitude for divine grace, and the latter so our frailty as dust-of-the-earth creatures reflects the brilliant image of God. Above all, we need hope!
The Honors College is proud of our many accomplished alumni. Dr. Terry Lee Mills (B.S. 1992, Biology, Honors Program) has had a successful medical career. Among his numerous accomplishments, Mills served as a primary care provider and as the Administrative Medical Director for St. John Clinic in Tulsa, OK. Most recently, Mills moved into the position of Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at CommunityCare of Oklahoma, a regional provider-owned health plan. Mills also served for 23 years in the US Army Reserves as an Army medical doctor with six deployments including to Iraq in 2008.
Through the recent generosity of donor support, a new full-tuition scholarship has become available to Honors College graduates seeking a Master of Divinity at Truett Theological Seminary. To be eligible, graduates of the Honors College must demonstrate involvement in student ministry, church ministry, non-profit organizations, and/or missions. They must also be actively involved in church ministries, and Baptist students must have completed the First-Year Church Certification Form. In addition, graduates must have a minimum 3.25 GPA.
The Honors College is proud of our many accomplished alumni. Jerome Loughridge (B.A. University Scholars, 1995) has a long history of public service. Among his numerous accomplishments, Loughridge served as the chief of staff to former Baylor president Robert Sloan, and worked as a White House Fellow for Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Iraqi reconstruction. Most recently, Loughridge served in a volunteer capacity as the Secretary of Health & Mental Health for Oklahoma, where he led the state's early response to Covid-19
Out of the depths of vital Christian faith, MLK, Jr.'s service in the cause of social justice was rooted, grew up, and flowered. His sermons are of course a great source of insight into that faith. So also are his prayers, which are governed by the grammar of Christian faith as he praises God, confesses weakness and failure, pleas for help, seeks deliverance and guidance, gives thanks, and waits upon the Lord. His praying goes hand in hand with his public, prophetic witness.