Q&A with Dr. Rosalie Beck

By Katherine McClellan

Dr. Rosalie Beck, associate professor of religion, became the first female faculty member ever to serve in Baylor’s religion department when she started here 35 years ago. This summer marks her retirement from the University, and I got the opportunity to talk with her about her time at Baylor.

What do you hope students take away from your classes?

Interestingly, my answer to this question hasn’t changed over the years. I hope students take away an appreciation for whatever the topic is, as well an interest. I want them to continue looking and researching and to be lifelong learners. I want my students to have an appreciation for difference. I want them to know that just because something is different does not mean it is of more or less value — it is simply different. I want my students to be able to recognize differences and appreciate them, but not value something more or less because it’s different.

What do you want to be your legacy?

I’ve already seen part of what I wanted it to be with the number of women in the department now. That’s part of it. I’ve seen my legacy in women who have entered ministry as a result of my teaching who had not considered it before that time. For Baylor, I want the legacy to be excellent teaching. I want the students I’ve taught through the years to be excited about learning and their continuation of education.

What was your primary goal for your Christian Heritage class?

My aim for the Christian Heritage class is to make it interesting enough that the students realize it is a model for understanding the most important ideas that people have, which are most often religious in nature.

What will you miss most about Baylor?

The students. I hope to keep teaching in different venues, but I will miss the regular contact with students. Watching their lightbulb moments — when they suddenly have a thought they’ve never had before, and they’re so excited — I’ll miss that.

What is your advice to women seeking to enter this field of ministry?

Follow your passion. Whatever gets you going is what you need to do. Every profession can become humdrum; what keeps you going when that happens is your passion. In academia, for any student to find their passion and follow it is of critical importance. They must forge ahead. In the context of a Christian, they must do what they believe God wants them to do, which is first of all to love God, and then beyond that, do what’s fun. A Christian’s life is about joy, to be able to do what you love. Get whatever training is necessary to do that well.

What is your parting message to the Baylor community?

It’s been a great ride! Those were my dad’s last words, and I think that’s an appropriate epitaph for my time at Baylor. It’s had its ups and downs, but more ups than downs. It’s been a great ride.

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