Baylor Arts & Sciences magazine, Spring 2015: From Dean Nordt

Dean's letter

The health sciences have been an important part of the Baylor brand for many decades. Across the country, the one thing most people relate to at Baylor –– even more than athletics –– is health care and health research. This esteemed reputation is based on our accomplishments on the Baylor campus; the historic role the University played in establishing medical training and developing of healthcare in the state and growing partnerships with organizations such as Baylor College of Medicine and Baylor Scott & White Health. Collaborations among Baylor University and these other two entities are strengthening, and it’s true that there is power in numbers when it comes to branding.

There are two parts that Baylor is focusing on in this growing relationship. The first is Baylor’s undergraduate prehealth program, now recognized as one of the best in the nation. The second part is our potential to become even more nationally recognized as a leader in health science research. Actually, the two parts are interconnected. Our undergraduates deserve access to the finest teachers and scholars in the health professions, and should have engaged learning experiences obtained through research activities. Having the fine teachers and scholars on campus to achieve these goals also allows us to be part of the national conversation on health care challenges and build a reputation as a nationally recognized research institution.

Theme 4 of the College of Arts & Sciences strategic plan A&Spire addresses these vision points. For example, it is imperative that we hire more faculty in the sciences equipped with interests and experience that strengthen collaborations with Baylor College of Medicine. This could lead to joint appointments between Baylor and BCM become commonplace.

Toward this end, we recently signed an agreement between Baylor College of Medicine and Baylor University establishing a joint appointment for professors Peter Hotez (MD, PhD) and Maria Bottzani (PhD). They have been providing valuable services to various entities across the Baylor campus this year, including the Department of Biology.

You can learn more about this exciting collaboration in the story “Healing the Least of These” in the spring 2015 issue of Baylor Arts & Sciences magazine.

In another example of collaboration in the health sciences, Dr. John Wood, the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Scholar in Cancer Research, and Dr. Daniel Romo, the incoming Schotts Professor of Chemistry, work together on research into organic synthesis and the development of pharmaceuticals. They are also forging new relationships with faculty in Baylor College of Medicine and the UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. Strength in the health sciences will continue to grow at a rapid pace in the coming years as we hire more faculty to pursue this research area and build the appropriate infrastructure.

In our fall 2013 issue we introduced you to Dr. William Hillis, the emeritus Cornelia Marschall Smith Distinguished Professor of Biology who retired recently from Baylor. He is one prominent example of the historical reputation in health sciences that we hold as an institution. Dr. Hillis came to us from Johns Hopkins University in 1981 and has touched the lives of countless Baylor undergraduates with his mentorship. Throughout his career he has stressed the importance of having prehealth students take part in research as undergraduates.

In his name, and honoring his many years of unselfish service to Baylor and the health sciences, the College of Arts & Sciences has established the William Hillis Scholars in Biomedical Science Program. We are committed to growing this endowed program that will provide research opportunities to our undergraduate students, helping them be more competitive for acceptance into top medical school and into graduate programs.

Health and health-related disciplines reside in other academic units at Baylor besides Arts & Sciences. You might have heard about the recent creation of the Robbins College of Health and Human Science. It consists of the Louise Herrington School of Nursing, the Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation (formerly in the School of Education) and the departments of Communication Sciences and Disorders and Family and Consumer Sciences. The latter two departments resided in the College of Arts & Sciences since their inception many decades ago. While we were sad to see them move, their students will be well served in the new College.

As research and instruction in the basic and translational health sciences continues to scalate within the College of Arts & Sciences, it is incumbent upon us to continue to build greater collaborative synergies across Baylor’s academic units and with institutions and groups outside the University.

These are just a few examples of why the future of health sciences at Baylor University has never looked brighter.

Dr. Lee C. Nordt
Dean, College of Arts & Sciences


The entire Spring 2015 issue of Baylor Arts & Sciences magazine is available online.

©2015 Baylor University

Leave a Reply