The Power of the Empty Tomb

Dear Baylor Community,

            We will experience the most profound source of “hope abounding” over the next few days. In the midst of betrayal, brokenness, and other patterns of sin evident in Maundy Thursday, Jesus Christ bears our sin and the wounds of the world on the cross on Good Friday. On Holy Saturday, we watch and wait. And then on Easter we discover that God answers our, and the world’s, No with a decisive Yes by raising Jesus from the dead (2 Cor. 1:19-20).

            As a result, every day is now Easter. It is a sign of the hope we have, not because of who we are but because of who God is. The past is redeemed, and we are called to live into the future in confidence and trust in God…and especially in hope.

            I pray that we all will journey with Christ through Gethsemane and Golgotha to discover, on Easter morning, the power of the empty tomb. May these days be ones of healing, and of hope abounding, for you, your family, for all of us, for the world, and for Baylor.



Supporting People Who Stutter Through Research and Fellowship

Dr. Paul Blanchet, Associate Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders in the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, is currently examining listeners’ perceptions of people with communication disorders, particularly stuttering and/or cluttering. As a person who stutters (PWS), Dr. Blanchet decided to initiate this line of research in 2005. It has grown into a multi-study, transdisciplinary endeavor encompassing students, alumni, and faculty from various fields (e.g., psychology, sociology).

Dr. Paul Blanchet with his research team

Findings of this study will add further support for clinical use of self-disclosure, which is also referred to as “acknowledgment” or “advertising” in some stuttering treatment programs. Although this strategy has been utilized to great effect by many PWS for decades, there is a need for further empirical research demonstrating the benefits of disclosure. Clinically, self-disclosure is a simple yet extraordinarily powerful strategy that encourages openness and honesty, and facilitates positive communicative interactions among PWS and their listeners. Some clients view it as giving them permission to stutter, and it is often useful when working on becoming desensitized to stuttering. It is one of many such coping strategies discussed in the Baylor University Speech-Language Clinic Stuttering Support Group, which Dr. Blanchet co-founded in 2015 with Baylor’s CSD Clinic Coordinator, Mrs. Deborah Rainer.

At the 2014 Oxford Dysfluency Conference, many professionals were encouraging of Dr. Blanchet’s research, including staff from the prestigious Michael Palin Center in London, UK. Dr. Blanchet has since conducted several follow-up studies including one that examines the effects of self-disclosure (or acknowledgment) of stuttering on university students’ perceptions of a person who stutters. A URC grant enabled him to hire six undergraduate research assistants to assist with data collection and data entry. More information about Dr. Blanchet’s research is available in the RCHHS Newsletter.

Baylor Faculty and Students Grapple with Global Environment and Health Challenges

More people now live in cities than ever before, and projections indicate that by 2050, 70% of human populations will reside in urban areas. High population density results in concentration of food, energy, water, and other resource consumption. Health implications of global megatrends, including the food–energy–water nexus, present palpable challenges. For example, 80% of the global sewage production is not treated; instead it is returned to the environment and thus reused for various purposes, including agriculture. Implications for water security, food safety, and international trade are not routinely examined. Such considerations are critical because when water security is compromised, antimicrobial resistance (a leading global health threat) can increase significantly and threaten food safety.

Due to the growing importance of these issues, Dr. Bryan W. Brooks, Distinguished Professor of Environmental Science and Biomedical Studies and Director of Environmental Health Science at Baylor, and his students are actively engaging integrated environment and health research on six continents. Dr. Brooks and the students he mentors have been “flinging their green and gold afar” through international opportunities. For example, Dr. Brooks recently gave a plenary lecture on harmful algal blooms and participated in a panel discussion on antimicrobial resistance and mapping the antibiotics life cycle at the 3rd International Conference on Environmental Pollution, Restoration, and Management in Quy Nhon, Vietnam. During this meeting, Dr. Brooks had the unique opportunity to meet with the Minister of the Vietnam Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment and his senior staff, as well as faculty and administrators from several universities in Vietnam regarding future collaborations. Dr. Brooks also gave a lecture and visited colleagues at Jinan University in Guangzhou, China, and engaged additional collaborators at Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and University of Hong Kong.

Dr. Bryan Brooks and colleagues at the International Conference on Environmental Pollution, Restoration, and Management in Vietnam

Dr. Brooks is also spearheading the Global Horizon Scanning Project, which has identified dozens of timely interdisciplinary research needs related to environmental quality from around the globe using a “big questions” approach. Input solicited from thousands of scientists and engineers has been transparent, bottom-up, multidisciplinary, and multi-sector. Synthesis workshops, following big question solicitation from the scientific community, were held in Spain (for Europe), South Africa (for Africa), Argentina (for Latin America), New Zealand (for Oceania), Salt Lake City (for North America) and Singapore (for Asia). Each workshop was tri-chaired by experts from academia, government, and business. Key questions from these global workshops provide core materials for synthesis manuscripts, which are in various stages of peer-review or development. This project provides a first-of-its-kind global research agenda.

Through transdisciplinary engagement, both within Baylor as well as beyond – locally, nationally, and globally – Dr. Brooks and his colleagues seek to identify and address complex environment and health challenges that urgently require our attention.

A Love of Science Rooted in a Love of God

During the 2016 National Hispanic Education Summit hosted by Baylor University, Baylor’s Dr. Daniel Romo, the Schotts Professor of Chemistry in the College of Arts & Sciences, sat down with an interviewer from Christianity Today to discuss how his love of science is rooted in his love of God. “We have a way, as scientists, to explore the world and try to understand what God created,” Romo said. “He gave us a playground, if you will, to actually go and explore the world.”

Dr. Daniel Romo

As a Professor of Chemistry and Co-Director of the Baylor CPRIT Synthesis and Drug-Lead Discovery Laboratory, much of Dr. Romo’s work centers on “natural products,” the definition of which he explains through both God and science: “[Natural products] are compounds isolated from natural sources. For example, God has created bacteria and plants with an incredible capacity to make small molecules, which scientists can use to understand more about the cell. We study how cells function, both normal cells and cancer cells. We harvest the information that God indirectly gave us through these small molecules. Due to our study and the work of others, these compounds are often being used now to treat cancer.”

Dr. Romo’s and his colleagues’ research on cancer prevention and treatment improves people’s lives and provides testimony to God’s creation. In addition, Dr. Romo aims to impact lives through articulating his vision for the intersection of science and Christian faith: “I see being excited about science as a way to be excited about God. I try to convey this to my own children as well as my students.”

Ladies and Legos Encourages Women in STEM Fields

The “Ladies and Legos” program is a fun and casual way to bring together women at different stages of their academic and professional careers to talk about their experiences in the classroom and workplace. Many women in STEM fields do not have an arena to discuss the unique challenges women face in male-dominated industries. Thanks to the sponsorship of the Halliburton Foundation, Ladies and Legos offers opportunities to create dialogue, encourage gender diversity in the workforce, and empower women to succeed.

Ladies and Legos events typically involve small-group settings in which students create with Legos, an engineering-related toy primarily marketed toward males, while female leaders in STEM occupations lead discussions about their experiences in the workforce. On March 22, the School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS) partnered with Maker’s Edge in Waco to create a new Ladies and Legos event centered around building community and connections through hands-on “making” experiences including screen printing, soldering, vinyl cutting, and laser etching.

Women comprise about 23 percent of the nearly 1,200 undergraduates in the School of Engineering and Computer Science. The hope is that programs like “Ladies and Legos” will stimulate community among ECS students, faculty, and women already in the STEM fields and attract more prospective students, ultimately increasing the number of women in technological industries. The final Ladies and Legos event this school year will be April 18th, featuring Dr. Michelle Hebl, our Cherry Award recipient and Professor of Psychology from Rice University. Contact Emily Sandvall, Associate Director for Undergraduate Programs in ECS, for more information.

School of Education Launches Embedded Global Classroom

Janette Carpenter to establish the Carpenter Embedded Global Classroom, Baylor University’s first fully funded study-abroad embedded classroom. Through the Carpenter Embedded Global Classroom, School of Education students will participate firsthand in comparative education experiences in locations around the globe at no additional charge to the student. As school districts throughout Texas and the United States increasingly seek teachers with a broad cultural competency, the Carpenter Embedded Classroom will empower students to meet those needs.

Baylor School of Education Dean Michael McLendon (left) with Janette and Don Carpenter

“The School of Education is grateful for this generous and insightful investment in the lives of Baylor students by the Carpenter family,” said Michael K. McLendon, dean of the School of Education. “Their decision to support this expansion of social, economic, and policy perspectives for Baylor students through cross-cultural learning serves to highlight the value of this family as a true partner of Baylor University in pursuing its mission of educating men and women for worldwide service.” Carpenter Global Classroom experiences will be designed and selected with a goal of empowering students with both an enhanced understanding of education in other countries and a broader perspective of the uniqueness of the American educational system.

This spring, the inaugural Carpenter Embedded Classroom experience took place March 4-12, 2017, in Queretaro, Mexico, as part of the School of Education’s semester-long “Social Issues in Education” class, taught by School of Education professor Dr. Tony Talbert. Baylor’s partner in Queretaro is Monterrey Tec University, one of the most prestigious universities in Latin America. The March trip represents the first of many such partnerships that will open other opportunities to Baylor students throughout the Americas and around the globe. “As a teacher, you are often put into environments where you are serving students from different cultural backgrounds, or who are impoverished and disadvantaged for reasons not of their own making,” Don Carpenter said. “We wanted to extend these opportunities to Baylor students, because in so doing, you build empathy. As an educator, you give students the tools they need to learn and develop to their full potential. Through experiences in global classrooms, Baylor students can develop understanding and empathy to help them as they teach and influence students of their own throughout their careers.”

Baylor Law School Recognized for Strong Professional Development

The innovative Continuing Legal Education (CLE) program at Baylor University School of Law follows a nationwide trend of law schools focusing on developing students’ professional identities as lawyers. Baylor Law’s program has surpassed those at other Texas law schools and drawn national accolades. It broke new ground by offering students frequent professional development seminars—which closely resemble continuing legal education—presented by practicing lawyers on a wide variety of topics. Although students can pick and choose seminars to attend, it’s a mandatory requirement for graduation to log 18 hours spread out among the three years of law school.

Professional development seminars cover topics like law office management and organization; job searching and networking; the values of a lawyer and leadership; the ethical considerations of lawyering; and wellness, including the mental and physical health hazards of the profession. Administrators aim to offer 10 to 12 seminars each quarter, which breaks down to about one per week. After a seminar, students complete a feedback card and the school uses the data to plan future seminars. Jim Wren, a Baylor Law professor and chairman of its professional development committee, reported: “Depending on the program, we get all the way from rave reviews back to lukewarm or sometimes a critical review of a program. We listen to those and take them to heart. The more practical the program, usually the higher the rating for it.”

Baylor Law is not the only Texas law school interested in developing students professionally. But its program is unique because of its CLE-style model, its mandatory nature, and the fact that it spans all three years of law school. Baylor Law aims to produce professionals who are truly “practice ready” and prepared to succeed, and this program substantially furthers that goal.

A New Kind of Teaching and Learning

Following an animated response from faculty and staff across the university, the Baylor Social Innovation Collaborative (BAY-SIC) is set to launch a diverse array of transdisciplinary projects that aim to discover and develop new ways of promoting hope and human flourishing. Because our most important problems are not reducible to any one discipline or field, and because we operate in a world in which challenges are less foreseeable and knowledge less reliable, embedded in many of these projects is an effort to design new models for collaborative teaching and learning across our 12 colleges and schools.

This fall we will launch five new “social innovation labs,” courses that promote a new way of doing business by assembling diverse groups of faculty, staff, and students to work together with community partners—both local and global—on wicked problems and generative solutions. Below are brief synopses of our first five “labs,” and additional information can be found on the BAY-SIC webpage. General questions about BAY-SIC and the social innovation labs can be directed to Andy Hogue, with questions about specific courses addressed to the contact person listed in each description.

Campus Hunger: Students, Systems, and Solutions

Despite the perceived affluence of higher education, a greater percentage of college students struggle to pay for food than in the general population. How might hunger affect the college experience, and what can be done about it? Through this course, students will begin to understand the complexities surrounding food and hunger in society and then explore their roles in higher education settings. Students will also design and carry out research-based responses to campus hunger.

For more information about this course, contact Dr. Nathan Alleman:

Child Migration in the Western Hemisphere

This social innovation lab explores the causes, characteristics, and consequences of the migration of children from Mexico and the Northern Triangle of Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras). The course aims to build collaborative, interdisciplinary research teams, which will examine particular aspects of the crisis and develop interventions to aid these migrants and prevent future child migration.

For more information about this course, contact Dr. Victor Hinojosa:

Healthy River, Healthy Community

On a national and global scale, water is inextricably linked to critical social issues such as energy use, health and human development, poverty, food scarcity, and environmental degradation. Through this course, students will explore local water issues as a model for better understanding global water issues. Students will delve into the complexity of this growing global issue through first-hand experiences, including a river trip, field-based activities, and studying museum natural history collections.

For more information about this course, contact Dr. Suzanne Nesmith:

Combatting Human Trafficking

This course will involve the examination of contemporary human trafficking issues and modern day slavery through an interdisciplinary lens. Students will analyze systemic intersections that create the environments which perpetuate social inequalities, while also constructing innovative strategies that dismantle and disrupt systems of oppression.

For more information about this course, contact Dr. Elizabeth Goatley:

Social Innovation with At Risk Older Adults

At risk older persons fill the hidden corridors of Waco, and they live in the crucible of increasing economic, health care, and community service scarcity. This course aims to address impoverishment and isolation by working with vulnerable older persons in Waco and the surrounding area using interdisciplinary knowledge, research, and practice through engaging with local agencies and community partners.

For more information about this course, contact Dr. Dennis Myers:



Baylor Psychology Professor Awarded Godin Prize

The International Association for the Psychology of Religion (IAPR) jury announced the winner of the IAPR 2017 Godin prize: Wade Rowatt, professor at Baylor University. The Godin prize is awarded once every four years to recognize senior scholars for their excellence in the scientific study of the psychology of religion. 

Wade Rowatt completed his Ph.D. in experimental psychology (social-personality specialization) at the University of Louisville (1997) and his B.A. in psychology and philosophy at William Jewell College (1991). Throughout his research and academic career, he has been focused almost exclusively on psychology of religion. With his students and collaborators, he has developed an important research program on religion and prejudice that advanced much further, both theoretically and methodologically, our knowledge on a topic that is both classic for the field and socially important today. He has also previous and ongoing work on the psychology of humility. Overall, this work led to more than 50 publications, in journals and books in both psychology of religion and personality/social psychology; these publications have been highly cited. Finally, Dr. Rowatt has been a mentor of several Ph.D. students who continue to serve the field today as academic faculty (in 2014, he thus received the Mentoring Award of APA Division 36). He has also served the field and the community by assuming several responsibilities: founder and chair for many years of the Psychology of religion and spirituality preconference at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology Annual Convention, as well as associate editor of the Archives for Psychology of Religion (2012-2016) and The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion (since 2017).

Dr. Rowatt will attend the next IAPR conference at Hamar and deliver a keynote speech on his work. Congratulations, Dr. Wade Rowatt!


Truett Sports Ministry and the Legacy of Eric Liddell

In late February, Baylor’s Truett Seminary hosted advanced screenings of the film “On Wings of Eagles,” starring Joseph Fiennes and Shawn Dou; directed by Stephen Shin; co-directed by Michael Parker; and produced by Jim Green and Mark Bacino. Based on the life of Olympic runner and missionary Eric Liddell and continuing the story of the Academy Award-winning film “Chariots of Fire,” the film focuses on Liddell during his time as a missionary in China and when he was being held in a Japanese labor camp. These special events were hosted by Dr. John and Mrs. Cindy White and the Truett Sports Ministry Program. John and Cindy enjoy a special relationship with the Liddell family and are now in the planning stages of launching the Eric Liddell Institute to be housed at Truett.

Scene from “On Wings of Eagles”
Scene from “On Wings of Eagles”