Alumni Interviews — Ruddy Tchao (’16)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each spring we publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we post interviews with our alumni. Today we are excited to post an interview with Ruddy Tchao (’16). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at

What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I graduated in 2016. While at Baylor, I majored in International Studies and minored in Business Administration.

What has been your journey since graduating from Baylor? What are you doing currently for work/career?

Upon graduating, I accepted a full time offer with JPMorgan Chase Bank. I started in 2016 as a Compliance Analyst working with a team that specializes in anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing. In 2017, I transferred to a new team and am now a Vice President- Onboarding Specialist assisting new government and not-for-profit clients with complex product implementations. The sales team wins the client’s business and passes the client over to me to help them transition their business to Chase. As painful as that can be, my job is to make that process easier for clients.

In 2018, I also got married to Mete Moomaw, a fellow Bic’er, and we welcomed a daughter, Zoey in January 2019. We currently live in Plano, TX.

What do you enjoy most about your work–or what is something you are currently excited about in your work?

I most enjoy bringing people together for a common cause. As the Onboarding Specialist, I act as the Project Manager during the onboarding process and I partner with sales, training, and the back office to ensure a smooth and successful transition. The projects that I work on can take anywhere from 3-12 months, so I get the opportunity to build deep and lasting relationships with both my internal partners and my clients.

I am most excited about new tech initiatives that are being implemented. In an effort to make the banking process easier for clients, the Bank is rolling out technology that will automate the account opening process for our business clients. This will shorten the onboarding process and minimize human error.

How has your BIC education influenced your life and/or work since leaving Baylor?

My BIC education has allowed me to approach my job in a more holistic manner. The BIC’s emphasis on complete formation has given me the tools I need to understand and approach common problems from a new perspective. I actually attribute some of my success so far to the BIC. Two of my hiring managers have asked me extensively about my BIC experience and explained how they were seeking candidates with a diverse background who would bring new perspectives and insights.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in BIC?

My favorite memory would have to be meeting my now-wife. We met because I needed to borrow a book that she had used the previous semester and one of the BIC professors got us in contact with one another. From there, I sat next to her in Word Cultures II and annoyed her enough times that she agreed to give me a chance. Learning about the meaning of the word “myth” from Dr. Tatum is a close second. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you will find out soon enough.

Is there something you learned in BIC that still sticks with you today?

One of the best lessons that I learned from the BIC is that there is a way to disagree with someone and remain civil. I often run into disagreements at work when people believe that an initiative or project should be executed in different ways. As I watched the BIC professors do so effortlessly, I try to find commonality between the disagreeing points of view, ask follow up questions, and guide the working group to a common solution.

What are your goals for the future?

I’d like to be an expat- representing a corporation in another country. In the longer term, I’d like to work in the public sector, as a diplomat or an ambassador. I am fascinated by the conversation that occurs when two countries meet and I would like to take part in that conversation.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

While I was interviewing for internships and full time positions, I often thought that my course of study, which was in the humanities sector, was a hindrance. I fell into the trap of thinking that I needed to be a business major in order to work for a large corporation. I’ve since learned about how wrong that line of thinking was. Even among more senior leaders within the Company, I find literature, history, and fine art majors. I learned early on in my career that companies look for personality traits and critical thinking and writing skills more than a specific major. One of my managers even confirmed that the Company has training to assist with the job-specific knowledge, but that the aforementioned skills are priceless and cannot be learned in training. Instead of thinking about my course of study as a hindrance, I now think of it as cross training. As I was reading and discussing topics in the BIC, I was inadvertently being trained on leadership, integrity, and accountability- among other things.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I would implore current BIC’ers to cherish the time they have now. In the BIC, we have the luxury of having highly skilled professors lead us in conversation with open-minded peers about topics that are very sensitive. It is hard to replicate such an environment outside of the BIC and I have yet to find one.

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Alumni Interviews — Dr. Katie Welch (’03)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each spring we publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we post interviews with our alumni. Today we are excited to post an interview with Dr. Katie Welch (’03). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at

What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I graduated from Baylor in December 2003, but was in the BIC cohort that graduated in Spring of 2004. I had some credit from AP classes that allowed me to graduate a little early, but I stayed in Waco that final semester and commuted to DFW for graduate school just so I could spend a few more months with my friends. I majored in Spanish and took several linguistics courses as part of my major that awoke something in me that ultimately led me to a career in linguistics.

What has been your journey since graduating from Baylor? What are you doing currently for work/career?

I continued on with my love of languages and pursued a Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of Texas at Arlington, graduating in 2009. I now teach linguistics courses to future bilingual and ESL teachers at UNT-Dallas as part of the Emerging Teacher Institute. My parents and only sibling are all Baylor alums who happened to meet their spouses on the Baylor campus, but I broke with family tradition and married outside the Baylor Line. My husband Casey is not only extremely supportive, loving, and just an all-around great guy, he’s also been a good sport as I’ve dragged him to homecoming year after year. We have two fantastic sons, Hunter (8) and Archer (5).

What do you enjoy most about your work–or what is something you are currently excited about in your work?

What I love most about my work is getting to be around curious and hard-working students. Every semester we embark on an intellectual journey together as we seek to answer some challenging question about language such as “Where is correct English spoken?” There are so many misconceptions about language that society collectively buys into without doing any empirical analysis, so I enjoy introducing students to the scientific study of language and facilitating “mythbusting” conversations. It’s also very rewarding to see students apply their new understanding of language into their chosen careers, be that future teachers becoming more aware of the challenges English languages learners face or future attorneys realizing the ways linguistic discrimination impacts the criminal justice system.

How has your BIC education influenced your life and/or work since leaving Baylor?

Linguistics is a highly interdisciplinary field, and my time in the BIC gave me a solid foundation for this type of work. I am a linguist who is housed in a School of Education who teaches psycholinguistics courses but also regularly lectures on internet language, so that requires being able to span many disciplines simultaneously! Additionally, the concept of “the examined life” has been a guiding principal that not only informs my professional self, but also who I am as a follower of Christ. One of the best gifts the BIC offers its students is the freedom to ask questions and reflect on why we believe what we believe.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in BIC?

I have so many it’s hard to choose! One favorite was when Dr. Frieda Blackwell taught us the Christmas carol Brincan y Bailan as we talked about Christmas traditions in other countries as part of World Cultures. Another was when we did a semester-long study on a specific country as part of World Cultures V, and Dr. Lizbeth Souza-Fuertes made Brazil come alive for our class. However, my all-time favorite memory happened in the first week of classes Freshman year when we were asked to read Stephen Pinker’s The Language Instinct. I’ll never forget sitting in the drawing room of Alexander Hall with a bunch of a wide-eyed BICers as we contemplated if it could possibly be true that almost every sentence uttered is a brand-new combination of words. (I now use this same reading with my own students!)

Is there something you learned in BIC that still sticks with you today?

When I teach, I like to have my students read original sources, similar as we did in the BIC. I also encourage my students to interact with a text by annotating/asking questions/making comments on the page itself. I still remember being so shocked when Dr. Lenore Wright encouraged our Examined Life I class to physically mark up a text, since in high school writing in a book was completely taboo!

What are your goals for the future?

My kids are finally at the age where they can travel more easily, so one of my parenting goals is to introduce them to new cultures and languages so that they can better appreciate the beautifully diverse world we inhabit.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

Engage with the community of scholars that surrounds you. The most cherished friendships of my life are with fellow BIC-ers who became lifelong friends. We have navigated the examined life together through not only 4 years at Baylor – but also through all the life stages since, which so far has included adulting, job seeking, singlehood, parenthood, triumphs, hardships, and everything in between.

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Forced Migration: One BICer’s Experience — Diana Castillo (’17)

As we announced in May, BIC has taken on a new project we are calling BIC Grand Challenge–Forced Migrations. As we begin to explore this new theme within BIC, we offer a personal reflection by Diana Castillo (’17). We hope you take the time to read this powerful article on one BIC alum’s personal experience with forced migration.


It was a gift to be nurtured by the BIC faculty and staff as a student. BIC made me ask hard questions and go beyond surface answers. I love that now, as an Admissions Analyst in the BIC, I get to nurture others on their BIC journey.

Since working in the BIC, I have looked back to examine my life and realized I am privileged. Dad was an enthusiastic business owner. Mom was an intelligent public administrator. My parents were hardworking- middle class Colombians. They met and got married during Colombia’s recession (1980s-1990s) and learned to endure the political turmoil of the drug wars, until something changed in their lives- my sister and I were born. The idea of creating a family and a place of safety became a struggle every year.

Around the 90s, the mafia infiltrated local business and laundered money. Opposing the mafia often meant death. As dad saw other business owners tortured and succumb to the control of the mafia, he rebelled by letting his business crash. Dad’s business perished alongside his hope for Colombia. Mom was holding on tight to her job, yet over time fear of having her family harmed intensified. Colombia was becoming a hostile place to live. After years of trying to stay, the opportunity for asylum in the U.S. became the only option. Mom and dad struggled when leaving their family, food, culture, and home behind for the sake of finding something better for their family. The day arrived when we hugged our old life goodbye and migrated to Florida.

Coming to the States was one of the hardest decisions. None of us had adequate English training since we never imagined moving. When arriving, the language barrier limited job opportunities, and we experienced bullying on both micro and macro levels. Over time, my sister and I learned English, becoming our parents’ translators and teachers. Additionally, we understood all the cruel things said about immigrants. Another obstacle was validating the Colombian degrees earned. Unless you had the money and time to go through the strenuous process, you were stuck. Some people evade moving between states in the US to avoid getting re-certified, yet alone go to a different country to do that. The accreditation issue left them with less desired jobs. Imagine having to leave your intellectually fulfilling job for a strenuous and often humiliating job that barely allowed you to pay the bills.

The initial road to “the American dream” was bumpy for my parents, yet time healed their wounds, made them patient, and opened doors for understanding. Despite my parents’ struggles, I honestly did not experience the same hardships they did. Mom and dad tried to make home, whether it was a small room, a run-down apartment, or a two-story house, feel like a safe haven. My sister and I grew up spoiled and loved. We learned to love our neighbors no matter who they were. We experienced a rich childhood blended with Colombian culture and U.S. tradition.

After many years of working strenuous jobs, Mom became a librarian where she taught elementary students the importance of education. Dad sacrificed his dream of owning a business in the US, instead working tirelessly as a custodian to provide stability. Even then, he cleaned someone else’s business with honor. My parents make me proud even if the world sees them differently. Although they worked as cooks, custodians, landscapers, etc., they used their creative and intellectual skills to make the US a better place. Today when I see cooks, custodians, or landscapers at Baylor, I often see my parents. I see the hardworking, yet joyful way they serve. My parents passed away before they got to see all the fruits of their labor, but, as the children of immigrants often do, my sister and I are now reaping the benefits arising from the grace of God and their hard work.

Despite the challenges, there have been many privileges. I was the first in my family to attend college and graduate in the US. My sister and I became U.S. citizens and later traveled back to Colombia when seeing its recent progress. We saw family we had not seen in 15 years since leaving. Senior year, I was given a scholarship to study abroad in France, which broadened my world view. After graduating with a degree in International Studies and French, I got the privilege of becoming BIC’s Admissions Analyst. Since then, my sister has moved in with me and hopes to graduate from Baylor. Furthermore, we took a leap of faith and bought a house to start an intentional community we like to call the Fortress.

Although these are highlights of my story, there are many immigrants with different stories who have not experienced the same privileges. For example, the fact we flew into Florida and did not have to navigate a harsh terrain, the fact that college is part of my story, and the fact that I enjoy my job says something. I get to live out these privileges because of the many teachers, mentors, and individuals who fought for me and my family when they saw us as more than just immigrants.

I hope that insight into my life and experiences gives you an opportunity to see immigrants in a new light. Whether they are refugees from neighboring or remote countries, most immigrants are not coming to become criminals or steal jobs. They are coming with hopes to live out a better life alongside their family and to work hard to make their new home a bright place to live. All they need is equity.

Recently, BIC began the journey of better understanding the complexities of forced migration. Because BIC allows us to look through an interconnected lens, this theme is being explored in all the class sequences. How is forced migration impacting the world of cultures, the world of rhetoric, the social world we are in, and the natural world? How is forced migration not just the issue of another, but a topic that makes you examine your own life?

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Note from the Director — Fall 2018

Hello BIC family,

I hope the change of season finds you well. Recently, I spent a morning standing in line for early voting here in Texas. The lines were long and people were festive (despite learning in the morning about the City of Austin mandatory water boil). I hope each of you exercised your civic rights and joined in the record voting turnout. As I mentioned in my last director’s note, the fact that so many alumni are out there doing all kinds of good work in the world gives me hope for the future on a daily basis.

We have some faculty and staff changes underway. We are in the process of doing a search to replace Sharon Conry as Natural World Coordinator. Sharon will be retiring after many years of service to the Natural World component of the BIC experience. If you know anyone with a science background who might be well suited to joining the BIC teaching team, please encourage them to apply. We also recently welcomed a new BIC advisor to our staff. Christopher Moore has been with us since last spring. Chris is married to a former BIC-er, Mary Ziehe Moore!

In terms of BIC courses, World Cultures III has recently undergone a major transformation. We also are offering a special version of Biblical Heritage, taught by Mike Whitenton and Josh Ritter, that deals with Interfaith Dialogue and cultivating religious literacy. Additionally, we have new capstones planned on race and gender in America and the complicated relationship between consumerism and citizenship in America today.

Our alumni program continues to grow thanks to the excellent work of Adam Moore. We would love for you to get involved. Please stay in touch and consider donating to the BIC excellence fund.

Best wishes to all,

Anne-Marie Schultz
Director, Baylor Interdisciplinary Core

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BIC Faculty Updates — Fall 2018

Candi Cann: I hope this finds you well and thriving! Maia and I finished our first year in Texana House last year, and we adopted a sweet Goldendoodle named Milo, who has quickly become a campus icon. We love living on campus, and have found our lives richly blessed by sharing our lives with students. This year found us taking some fun trips, with Maia and I going to Dublin, Ireland and to Stonehenge in the summer, and in the fall, I also attended Harvard’s presidential inauguration as Baylor’s delegate. Next summer (2019) I am starting the new Baylor in Hawai’i program, and I’ll be taking ten to twelve students to Oahu to study and learn about Asian Pacific culture and World Religions (doubling as World Cultures 5 and Capstone). We are so excited about having the opportunity to share our love of Hawai’i and Hawaiian culture with Baylor students. My research continues to chug along– I published another book (The Routledge Handbook of Death and the Afterlife), wrote a couple of journal articles and gave a plenary at the Centre for Death and Society in Bath. My nerd bucket list was fulfilled, though, when I was interviewed by Ira Flatow on his show about tech and death for Science Friday. Maia, Milo and I hope you are all well, and please stop by Texana House to say hi next time you return to visit Baylor. (Two pics: Candi & Maia at Stonehenge; Milo, Maia and Texana women)

Paul Carron: I just finished my fourth year on tenure track in the BIC and my ninth year teaching Social World I, which I once again coordinated. I also continue to teach Social World II, Biblical Heritage, and a Capstone/philosophy elective in ethics (my main area of research). As I travel to academic conferences around the world, I am continually reminded how fortunate I am to teach in the BIC! When I describe our program and students to other professors, they are always jealous of our curriculum, collegiality, and incredible students. This summer I had the incredible opportunity to attend a three-week long seminar on Aristotle in Città di Castello, Italy (I am standing next to Thomas Aquinas’s desk in Orvieto). There were Aristotle scholars and students from around the world and reading texts alongside these new colleagues was an incredibly enriching experience. It also allowed me to finish an article on Aristotle and voluntary action which will come out in Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy in the spring of 2019. Articles on Kierkegaard and the primatologist Frans de Waal came out in the spring of 2018. My summer travels also included conference presentations on Kierkegaard and de Waal, the latter being my first poster presentation which was so much fun that I plan on having my capstone class give poster presentations in lieu of research essays this spring (aren’t some of you jealous!). The scholarship of teaching and learning is another evolving area of interest, as Dr. McDaniel and I have two articles on teaching ethics in the BIC coming out summer 2019. In family news, admissions—a department my wife Jennifer oversees—successfully recruited the most diverse and academically qualified class in Baylor history! My children continue to keep me young at heart (and old in body!). Eliana (10) and Bennett and Mikaela (6) love Lake Air Montessori, where Nora (4) will join them next year.

Sharon Conry: Professor Conry continues to teach in both Natural World I and II.

Stacey Hibbs:  Dr. Hibbs continues to teach in both BIC and Great Texts. This semester she is teaching World Cultures I and Social World I, and in the spring she taught World Cultures IV and a BIC Capstone, “Friendship: Happiness, Virtue, and Love,” with her husband, Dean Thomas Hibbs.

Mark Long: Mark’s bride Lisa, co-host of BIC pyramid building parties, has returned to school full-time to work on her MBA in healthcare administration. Lisa and Mark are enjoying spending time with their youngest grandchild, 15 month old Pippa. They also are exploring Lake Waco with their new kayak, The S.S. Lady Louise. And Mark has an article forthcoming (2018) in Special Operations Journal, “ISIS and the Collapse of the ‘Caliphal Syllogism’.”

Charles McDaniel: My wife Diane and I had some great travel experiences in 2018; however, the attempt to bring our body temperatures back into the normal range with a two-week trip to Colorado this past summer was dashed when we were greeted upon our return by the all-time Waco record high of 114 degrees. Still, we were able to do much hiking and relaxing–and even some bear-spotting up in God’s country.

With respect to research, my efforts these days are focused on the rapidly evolving human genetic services industry and how American religious values might inform its development. Some warn that a new “Consumer Eugenics” movement is emerging that threatens traditional religious conceptions of the human person. After many years studying markets and their social and moral consequences, this new industry holds a particular fascination for me. I have a book underway that will explore how the church may become involved in important decisions that will impact our genetic future.

Next summer (2019), I’ll be participating along with the Drs. Zori and other faculty in the Baylor in Italy program, teaching both “Biblical Heritage and Contemporary Ethical Issues” and a BIC capstone titled “Constantine and the Reconstruction of Christianity.” The capstone will explore the Christianization of the Roman Empire and its implications for notions of sacred and secular in the West, emphasizing the early foundations under the rule of Constantine. Readings will focus on changes in Roman culture in the fourth century, the influence of Church councils, the rising importance of pilgrimage, theological and schismatic controversies, and other events formative to the rise of Western Christianity. Visits to Constantinian-era pilgrimage sites will make our course readings and discussions more real and provide students with a vibrant learning experience.

Ivo Novakovic:  Dr. Novakovic continues to teach across multiple BIC courses throughout the year. He is currently teaching World Cultures I, World Cultures III, Social World I, and Biblical Heritage. In the spring he also taught Social World II and World Cultures II.

Sam Perry: Since the last update, we welcomed our daughter last September and have been enjoying/learning parent life. I have continued my research on race and racism. I published a piece on President Trump’s response to Charlottesville, secured a book contract and am working on a book that examines the intersections of race and religious rhetorics during the Obama presidency, and I am continuing to work on research concerning the ways in which we still find rhetorics of lynching in public discourse. Dr. Sarah Walden and I are continuing to collaborate on pedagogical research, Dr. Mark Long and I are continuing to collaborate on research concerning Daesh and radicalization, and I am collaborating on an article with Dr. Josh Ritter. It’s been a busy and exciting year for me and for our family. As ever, we are happy to be BIC’ers!

Anne-Marie Schultz: Hello BIC family. It has been an eventful year in the life of Anne.  This time last year, we welcomed  a wonderful Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy to our family.  He has a very BIC-ish name: Dante.  I tried to argue for Plato or Nietzsche to no avail. He’s growing very fast, already about 70 pounds of abundant energy. His older brother, Milo, the golden retriever, is still working hard as the BIC comfort dog. Milo often accompanies me to Baylor. He checks in with all the dog lovers in the first floor office. He is a frequent visitor to Examined Life I small group and to the upstairs BIC offices as well.

On the other side of the cycle of life news, my mother, Andrea Frosolono, passed away this past year. She died on Valentine’s Day from complications related to the flu. I feel very blessed to have been present at her passing and even more blessed to have had such a wonderful mother for the first 52 years of my life. She and my father, Michael, moved to Buena Vista, Colorado two years ago and the last year of her life was filled with beautiful mountain views, home cooked meals courtesy of my sister, Christina, and brother-in-law, Kelly, two fluffy cats and Locket the dog (named after Lockhart Texas where he was found on the side of the road and sent to a high kill shelter, before he was rescued at the very last minute by the German Shepard rescue group).

In the philosophical domain, I’m hard at work on Plato’s Socrates on Socrates: Autobiography as Public  Philosophy. I am sending the proposal to my editor soon. I’ve been working on lots of articles related to the book and have been invited to give several talks and presentations.

I also keep busy with Iyengar yoga. I’ll be teaching the Yoga and Philosophy capstone again in Fall of 2019. I encourage you to read my blog, Thoughts on Teaching Yoga and Philosophy. Stay in touch.

Lynn Tatum: Since our last BIC newsletter, I’ve been on the road a good bit—literally “on the road.” ROAD TRIP –Last Christmas, my family and I (which includes two BIC alumnae–Talj and Tane Tatum), picked up a car in Berlin and headed south and east through Poland, Prague and the Czech Republic, Vienna, Slovakia, and Budapest. We celebrated Christmas with a memorable dinner at Mozart’s house before going to St. Stephen’s cathedral in Vienna for midnight Christmas Mass. For the spring 2018 semester, I taught WC II and Biblical Heritage as I’ve done since BIC first began. At the end of the spring semester, most of the World II faculty hopped on a jet and headed over to Spain and Portugal. Every-other-year, the World II faculty select a location central to the World II curriculum; and then we do an intensive study tour. Remember the “Encounter” literature from World II, the Spanish and the Portuguese exploring the “New World”? We went to many of the places associated with the Spanish Conquistadors and Portuguese explorers. When the rest of the faculty headed home—I stayed back…. Road Trip—rented a car headed down to Gibraltar, where the Muslims invaded Europe in 711. I climbed the Rock of Gibraltar and gazed over to Africa, from whence the Muslims came. I spent some time there interacting with the monkeys of Gibraltar as well. Back in the States for the summer, I taught World Cultures V-Middle East and Biblical Heritage. At the end of summer, one more Road Trip. I picked up my BIC alum daughter (who is now finishing up a Master’s degree at a big-school-in-Austin-that-shall-go-unnamed. We then headed out to California to my son’s graduate school, Stanford. And then we road tripped together up to the far north, the Canadian Rockies and the Columbia Ice fields in Alberta. I stopped shaving, and so now have a beard. As for this fall, I’m teaching BIC and Religion courses. I’m continuing to work on issues of Academic Freedom and I’m continuing to love my interaction with my BIC students.

Sarah Walden: Dr. Walden continues to teach in both Rhetoric I and II, in addition to Examined Life I and her recent Capstone course, “Life at the Intersections.” Her first book, Tasteful Domesticity: Women’s Rhetoric and the American Cookbook, was published earlier this year.

Xin Wang: Time really flies! I can’t believe this is my 16th year teaching for BIC. I continue to teach both World Cultures II and V. One valuable benefit of teaching World Cultures II is to be able to travel with my colleagues to various cultural sites in the world. For this year’s field trip, we visited Spain and Portugal, immediately after the spring commencement in May 2018. We visited some historical sites in both countries which will be incorporated in our lectures about European Renaissance and Reconnaissance.
I did not take students to China for our Baylor in China program this past summer. After leading this summer program for 10 years, I decided to take a break and spend some summer time with my family. We took a three-week road trip through Germany and Holland. Both my children enjoyed the visit to the Anne Frank House and the Black Forest, as well as many other places. Then we spent the rest of summer in hot (I really mean HOT) central Texas. I also learned some fascinating things about Texas this summer, despite my 22 years of residence in various parts of the state, from the book God Save Texas by Lawrence Wright (2017). The book is witty, entertaining and informative, and provides a nice glimpse into the current political, social and cultural environment of the Lone Star State. As a student once told me: Texas does suck people in. I realized that I have spent half of my life in this state now, as many years as I spent in China. Waco has already become my second hometown. Now that I have become a naturalized citizen last Spring and a registered voter in Texas, I will be voting first time ever in the upcoming Texas election.

In addition to what I do for BIC, I have been directing the Asian and African Languages and Cultures Division within the Department of Languages and Cultures. We offer courses in five languages (Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Swahili, and Korean) and of three area studies ( African Studies, Asian Studies, and Middle East Studies). One amazing fact about this division is that almost every single faculty is from somewhere outside the U.S., making the division a truly diverse workplace on campus.

I am currently working on a book manuscript on China’s rising middle class.

Jason Whitlark: This year I published my third major book on the Letter to the Hebrews entitled Inventing Hebrews: Design and Purpose in Ancient Rhetoric. I also returned to Italy with Baylor in Italy. It was an incredible time with a really great group of students from the BIC and some other programs. We did a martyrdom and pilgrimage capstone and the Biblical Heritage course. The pictures are from our 12 mile pilgrim walk on the Via Francigena from Viterbo to Montefiascone (you can see Montefiascone way in the background), from the Ara Pacis (one of my favorite Augustan monuments), and from hiking the Scala Fenicia on Capri (I was a bit delirious in this picture).


Lenore Wright: My Baylor life is full and rewarding. This June will mark my 20th year at the University. I have enjoyed wearing many hats along the way—BIC Assistant Director, Assistant Professor (now Associate Professor) of BIC & Philosophy, and Director of the Academy for Teaching and Learning. It’s an honor and “a real kick,” to quote the always apt Tom Hanks, to experience Baylor through these different roles. Truly, I feel blessed and deeply privileged.

I continue to teach World Cultures III and a cross-listed course in BIC and Philosophy called “Philosophical Issues in Feminism.” Both courses intersect with my research interests—modern intellectual history and feminist theory—and I benefit greatly from thinking through scholarly issues with students. This year’s women’s marches and #metoo movement, for example, refocused the feminism course on topics that would otherwise be considered outdated or “tired.” The course will continue to evolve in response to contemporary gender-based realities, and that excites me and inspires me to keep learning.

Speaking of feminism, I have published two scholarly articles this year on feminist topics: “Sameness and Difference: Simone de Beauvoir and the Question of Female Identity,” in Identity, Freedom, and Responsibility (Ripostes, 2018) and “Relationality and Life: Phenomenological Reflections on Miscarriage,” International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics, vol. 11 no. 2, Fall 2018. I will work on a book project this spring in which I analyze the pregnant female subject in anatomical illustrations. This will build nicely on my recent scholarship and, I hope, offer an occasion to venture into popular culture as well. I welcome research assistance!

The Academy for Teaching and Learning is celebrating our 10th Anniversary this year. We have marked the occasion with an essay series titled, “Called to Teach,” and a full-day teaching symposium, but we are not resting on our laurels: there are instructors to support and students to help transform. Sic ‘em ATL!

My husband, Henry, continues to teach part-time and manage his own law firm with a partner, Pat Atkins (Atkins & Wright, PLLC). Our children, H.W. (12) and Carl Haze (4), also require full-time management. They both love dinosaurs, animals and insects of all sorts, and their parents (sometimes).

Davide Zori: This past year I focused on research and writing for a book on the Vikings. The book blends traditional historical narratives with new archaeological discoveries and scientific breakthroughs in disciplines such as genetics to weave an interdisciplinary understanding of these medieval Scandinavians. Simultaneously I continue my research excavations in central Italy. Together with my wife, Colleen Zori, I directed the third year of an archaeological field school that incorporates Baylor students into our primary research on the Etruscan site of San Giuliano. We’ve been excavating the chamber tombs of the necropolis that ring the old settlement as well as a medieval castle that was built on top of the old Etruscan acropolis. If you are interested in joining us next summer (2019), please get in touch! Our two kids (Lucas and Irene), who come with us every year to Italy (find the two small kids in the picture from the 2018 Italy archaeology team!), are thriving in Waco. Irene has picked up a Texas accent and they both now play soccer; by some unknown force, I was compelled to start coaching my son’s team.

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Alumni Interviews — Chase Kanaly (’11)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each spring we publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we post interviews with our alumni. Today we are excited to post an interview with Chase Kanaly (’11). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at

What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

Class of 2011 – BBA in Sports Sponsorship (now Strategy) and Sales with a minor in History.

What has been your journey since graduating from Baylor? What are you doing currently for work/career?

God has truly had a divine hand upon my post-Baylor life! Personally, I continue to date and pursue a fellow Baylor Bear, Lindsay Putnam (BA Business Communication 2013). We have enjoyed World Series experiences and trips to Disney over the years! She continues to be a gift from God! Other amazing experiences that I am thankful for: Being a part a part of a small group leadership team for a church plant in the middle of Downtown Houston. Also, completing my MBA with an emphasis in International Business and Marketing from Arizona State University in June of this year!

Professionally: started back in Houston, took the I-10W to Los Angeles for about a year and a half, then back to I-10 for a return to Houston. In Los Angeles, I worked for Anschutz Entertainment Group running the customer database for the segment of the organization that worked with the Award Shows, Staples Center, and events surrounding L.A. Live! After enjoying my time in Los Angeles and being a part of the 2014 Stanley Cup Championship with the Kings, I returned home to Houston to work for my favorite team, the Houston Astros! As the CRM Manager, I oversee the customer database, helping seat the lead distribution strategy to maximize revenue, and drive data driven solutions for our Sponsorship, Ticket Sales, and Special Events staff. It has truly been a blessing to work among such awesome people!

What do you enjoy most about your work–or what is something you are currently excited about in your work?

Besides being able to look out my window and be reminded of the blessing it is to work for my dream team at my dream job, I just love being able to be in a perfect role where I serve a variety of different departments and get to work with lots of amazing people. I am truly blessed. The Astros’ success over the recent years has made it even more of a crazy journey! Being able to walk across the infield grass to receive a World Series ring is extremely humbling! I love being able to work in an environment that supports me fully and is passionate about making memorable experiences for our fans.

Over the past few years BIC has attracted an increasing number of business students. As a BIC and business graduate, how do you think your BIC education has influenced your work in the business world?

In my job, I wear multiple hats within the Astros organization. At any given time, I could be working with individuals from Ticketing, Sponsorship, Strategy, and Information Technology. I need to be able to adapt my interpersonal skills to a wide variety of people. The BIC provided a great training ground for adapting to people who don’t always share your perspective and/or your experience. We read from a variety of different primary sources, heard from all types of perspectives, and then we had to draw our conclusions. In my career, I have to draw conclusions from the differing departmental goals, and help craft a strategy that puts the Astros in the best position to capitalize on our success.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in BIC?

Ironically, my favorite BIC memory came as a Freshman. I remember walking into large group for World Culture I, having been instructed that former Professor Dr. Tom Hanks was giving the group wide lecture. After surveying the room during his lecture, Dr. Hanks, motioned to me to provide feedback, and while I have no idea what I said, I remember feeling so nervous and wasn’t sure how my answer would be received. His response, “That’s a very nice thought colleague!” provided instant relief! But in the long-term, I realized that was a moment that gave me the confidence that I could be successful in college.

Is there something you learned in BIC that still sticks with you today?

The work ethic needed to be successful in the BIC is the same work ethic that I apply to my work with the Astros. The challenges of being in an honors program are very much equated to the challenges of the business world. Being in the BIC teaches you about how to solve problems, which is a skill that continues to be a part of my everyday life.

What are your goals for the future?

Professionally, my goal is to continue to find new effective solutions for helping my organizations use data to solve business challenges. My goals are to continue to find strategies centered around creating digital processes that will help the Astros grow.

Personally, I have a long-term goal to start up a non-profit wellness center for helping human trafficking victims on their road to healing.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

Engage your professors and get to know them. You have an opportunity to access people who truly care about your success. Never be afraid to ask for help.

Are the Astros going to repeat as World Series Champs this year?

Winning one championship was difficult, winning two in a row would be unreal! I think we have an amazing opportunity to do so.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Just wanted to give a thank you to Adam for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you all. It is my hope and prayer that BIC continues to shape and mold Baylor students for achieving the goals God has given each student.

I am so thankful for God allowing me to attend Baylor and for a family that has always supported my dreams!

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Alumni Interviews — Sarah Whited (’02)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each spring we publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we post interviews with our alumni. Today we are excited to post an interview with Sarah Whited (’02). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at

What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I graduated in 2002 via BIC. I majored in English Literature with a minor in music theory.

What has been your journey since graduating from Baylor? What are you doing currently for work/career?

After school, I worked at the Spirit Shop / Baylor Bookstore and the Waco Public Library for a year while going to grad school online from UNT. During my online courses, I got a job with Texas State University at the Alkek Library. I got my Masters in Library and Information Science in 2005, and became a fulltime librarian at Cedar Park Public Library where I stayed until 2014. I enjoyed the career, but after many years it became repetitive and I had no prospects for advancement or wage improvement. Throughout my time as a librarian, I found that I could almost always resolve technical issues that we had with our public and staff computers, and I became the “computer girl” of the library. When I expressed interest in getting a basic IT certification to our city IT department, they gave me a non-working desktop computer to disassemble and play with. That year, I got my A+ certification, started work at Fry’s Electronics, and within 7 months became assistant manager and one of the best custom build and repair technicians on the team.

Less than 2 years later when I applied to Dell corporate, I had no experience with datacenters, servers, or virtualization software, but my spicy and unconventional cover letter, which illustrated my adaptive mind and curiosity about technology, landed me a position in Dell’s High Complexity Virtualization Enterprise department. I leaped into the world of incredibly complex server support and diagnostics with zest, studying hard and quickly mastering all the elements of Enterprise-level datacenters. I supported all kinds of customers, from AT&T and the Chicago Mercantile Stock Exchange to hospitals and universities (even Baylor!) to mom & pop shops with advanced support contracts.

Early this year I was approached by a former contact at Dell who wanted me on his team at the new Dell Medical School (DMS) at the University of Texas. The role was right up my alley: project-driven, back-end architecture design and implementation for cutting edge technology at DMS, a revolutionary and unique amalgamation of hospital, clinic, research lab, and school. I was “headhunted” hard, and of course I said yes! I am now one of three Senior System Administrators for DMS, and I’m helping design the future of healthcare.

What do you enjoy most about your work–or what is something you are currently excited about in your work?

I am incredibly excited to be using my talents to revolutionize healthcare for the future. Not only do I feel like my life has meaning because I’m contributing to the betterment of humanity, but I’m also constantly learning new skills and keeping my mind young and flexible.

How has your BIC education influenced your life and/or work since leaving Baylor?

I can’t express how much richer BIC has made my worldview. Humans are incredibly good at pattern recognition, but in normal classrooms, each subject is broken apart into separate disciplines so you never get the big picture. In BIC, it was amazing to see the interrelation between so many different facets of our existence. When you take the different slices of humanity – mathematics, sciences, history, economics, literature, and so on – and you put those layers on top of each other, you can see a much bigger picture. You can see the patterns of humanity, the cycles and dependencies and interrelations, and it makes the world a much richer place. Going through BIC isn’t something you should take lightly because it means that you have a much deeper understanding of the world, and because of that, you can’t just sit idly and watch the world go by. In the immortal words of Spider-man, “with great power comes great responsibility.”

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in BIC?

My friends. I was one of the rebels. I never fit in with the “normal” Baylorite girls. When you’re in a place where the majority of people fit into a certain mold, the outliers gravitate to each other and bond much stronger. Our core group has stayed in contact over the years, and when I got married earlier this year, my friends from Baylor made the trek from Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio to come together and celebrate with me. Friends for life!

Is there something you learned in BIC that still sticks with you today?

There are many different ways of living and each of them is valid and valuable. We shouldn’t strive to make everyone conform to a certain ideal; we should strive instead to preserve individuality. We are responsible for our society, and WE are responsible for the way things are.

What are your goals for the future?

I’m going to keep striving to improve humanity in whatever capacity I can.

Do you have any advice for current BIC students?

Pay attention. Don’t get caught up in your own private struggles or victories so much that you lose focus. BIC can help you understand the world we live in. Remember that this is YOUR world, not some incomprehensible political, economic, or technological machine.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Do your best always. Don’t get discouraged. You are privileged and lucky, so try to help those who are not as well-off.

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Alumni Interviews — Priyankaa Bhatia (’17)

With each year that passes there are more and more BIC graduates doing great work all over the world. Each spring we publish brief “Alumni Updates” where our alumni can tell us some about their post-BIC lives. In addition to these annual updates, we post interviews with our alumni. Today we are excited to post an interview with Priyankaa Bhatia (’17). We hope you enjoy, and if you are interested in being interviewed for a future blog post, email us at

What year did you graduate from Baylor? What did you study?

I graduated from Baylor in May of 2017. I studied Biochemistry and was in BIC and the Honors Program.

What have you been up to since graduating from Baylor? Tell us some about your work with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). How did you get connected with this opportunity?

My initial plan after graduating was to take a gap year and gain some lab experience before going for a PhD in biomedical research. I had looked into a few locations in Texas (medical complexes and schools) that offered lab tech positions for recent bachelor grads. While I was job hunting, an old family friend who used to work for the WHO told my family that the NIH offers a great training program for “postbacs.” The NIH hires bachelors graduates and places them in an NIH intramural research lab on any campus in the US and provides them with a 1-2 year research experience.

I applied and got interviewed by a couple of researchers in Baltimore and on the main campus in Bethesda and eventually got hired by a lab in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. So I am a full researcher in this lab in Bethesda and have my own project and responsibilities. Postbacs on the NIH campus do receive training but are looked on as research peers and are expected to produce results and present and forward the mission of the lab they are in. There is also a lot that the NIH does to help with the application and transition into graduate/medical school and onto further careers. They have a great training department and a hold lot of seminars and workshops for trainees and fellows and provide us with career and graduate fairs throughout the year.

What do you enjoy most about your work at the NIH? How has the experience shaped your ideas of what you want to do in the future?

I like the diversity of things I get to do on the NIH campus. While my research is my main focus, I get to go to a variety of talks by leading researchers from all over the world. I get to attend research festivals, career workshops, grad school prep seminars, application workshops, grant writing seminars and even a graduate science course that my lab paid for. Its helped me learn more about the biotech industry and what that would entail as a future career choice.

Do you have any advice for BIC students who might want to pursue opportunities similar to your current position with the NIH?

One mistake I made while applying was that I treated it like school applications and applied for jobs too early. Remember, these are jobs, so they aren’t looking for people a year in advance. The NIH however, does start hiring early in the spring.

If you know you want to do a gap year before graduate school, start looking up possible positions and jobs and don’t just move home and then expect to find something during the summer. It will be harder to motivate yourself and you’ll be limiting yourself geographically. Be willing to move far away! It will only be for 1-2 years.

How has your BIC education influenced your life and/or work since leaving Baylor? Did your BIC education influences the way you view scientific inquiry in any way?

I can see that BIC has influenced the way I write, the way I do research and the way I present findings to my PI. Even when asked to look up something simple or when trying to write up a preliminary protocol, I am subconsciously putting the skills I learned through BIC to work. I am also very comfortable with public speaking and interviews and I do credit that to my time in BIC small group and to the amount I had to verbally present my ideas in class.

Do you have a favorite memory from your time in BIC?

There are a lot of good memories. A few that stand out are the late-night rhetoric writing sessions and WC exam study sessions. While not fun at the time, in retrospect I realize how much I bonded with people and how well prepared I was because of those study sessions.

Aside from that broad answer, getting extra credit for dressing as World Cultures characters for Halloween was particularly fun.

Is there something you learned in BIC that still sticks with you today?

My Biblical Heritage class has always stuck with me and has really pushed my study of the historical context of the Bible. I am even very motivated to visit Israel and the Jordan soon (am saving up for that!). Because I took that class over the summer, I got a very unique experience in that small class and I remember what I learned there fondly.

Many alumni recall the theme of the examined life and/or the study of world cultures from their time in BIC. Do either of these concepts still influence you today in your life or work?

I do find myself talking about Examined life when I recount stories of my freshman year. The concept of a vocation has become much more real to me in the last few months as I am preparing to apply to grad school and consider my future career choices. It has also become relevant as I realize that striking a work-life balance is very intentional and much harder to achieve than a college-life balance.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Transitioning from being a full-time student (I lived in the HRC for my three years at Baylor) to working full time was difficult at first. It was a little weird not having any obligations after work and took me a while to start pushing myself to not waste my free time. Once I had to start studying for the GRE and looking into graduate programs, I had to remind myself that my day doesn’t end when I come home from work and it was good to be busy in a variety of ways.

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Note from the Director — Spring 2018

Hello BIC family,

I hope this end of semester time finds each of you well. I am in the midst of many exciting projects. Some involve my philosophy work on Socrates as a Public Philosopher. I am working on getting a book proposal together before I go to Colorado to visit my father at the end of May. I’m also deeply involved in my ongoing training in Iyengar Yoga. There’s still more excitement circling around our new Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, Dante. And some exciting projects involve the BIC itself.

As you may recall, I started teaching in Examined Life I: Introduction to College Life this semester. It was a great experience overall. I really enjoyed working with the students in a more process-oriented class. When we got to the Spiritual Dimension of the course at the end of the semester, my colleague Melanie Nogalski, showed a clip from the movie, Amazing Grace. It is an excellent movie about William Wilberforce. He spent his life fighting against the British involvement in the slave trade.

Early this semester, I went to a talk that my colleague Chuck McDaniel was sponsoring within the context of his philanthropy class. The presentation was about the work of a Christian organization called The Last Well. They have been at work bringing water to everyone in Liberia for the past several years and their goal is nearly accomplished. I was inspired by their passionate work toward this goal, but even more inspired by the passion that the founder and president, Todd Phillips, had for involving young people in an important cause. He even linked his work with the youth to wanting all of them to feel the deep calling of purpose that William Wilberforce felt. And I thought to myself, ‘that’s what’s great about the BIC. It teaches you to see connections everywhere.’ In fact, some of the people who sponsored this talk are David and Amy Hunt, parents of current BIC student, Hannah Hunt.

After the talk, I started thinking about how we might use the BIC in a grander vision about overcoming injustice in the world. For example, in Social World II, the students participate in a philanthropy project with local charitable organizations, and many BIC students are involved in the great work that Better Together is doing. Others participate in various service and mission opportunities that Baylor provides. But something was calling me to think about what the BIC can do for getting BIC students more involved globally with a focused project like The Last Well.

I mentioned the idea to Chuck the next day and then the day after that we had a BIC faculty meeting. I brought it up to the faculty and there was immediate enthusiasm. We started thinking about what causes could be integrated across a variety of BIC classes. Food scarcity came up, as did human trafficking and immigration. Davide Zori suggested that Forced Migration covers most of these topics and we decided to move in that direction. It really felt like we were caught up in some larger purpose and the momentum and desire to get involved was palpably present in the room.

I formed an enthusiastic subcommittee of Mark Long, Jason Whitlark, and Chuck McDaniel and they are hard at work with what we are calling the BIC Grand Challenge- Forced Migrations. Stay tuned for updates. It is really an exciting time to be involved with the BIC.

Have a wonderful summer everyone, and if you have any ideas for our new project, let us know.

Anne-Marie Schultz
Director, Baylor Interdisciplinary Core

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2018 Senior Banquet Speech — Dr. Bill Pitts

Bill Pitts, Department of Religion
Coordinator of World Cultures II, 1995-2018
April 11, 2018


Greetings to the BIC graduating class of 2018 and to BIC faculty and staff. I am deeply grateful for the privilege of having been part of this program since its inception. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you this evening.

I have distributed a list of great books prepared by Baylor faculty. I wonder how many of these you have read. I was appalled when I saw the list. I had read only five or six, but it spurred me on to wider reading. Education is a lifelong process.

This evening I would like to address briefly three topics that have been central to my life and work.
(1) First, the nature of the university
(2) Second, Baylor’s place among Universities
(3)Third, the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core

I. First, the University

A. The impact of a university

You have now completed a degree at Baylor University. Congratulations! Research shows that as a result of this intense preparation in responsibility you will likely:
1. Work and make friends with a comparable class of people
2. Enjoy significantly more financial security than non-graduates of a university
3. Open your life to further opportunities of education and development, promotion, . . . and so on—

Again, congratulations.

B. What is the nature and task of a university?

1. Edwin Gaustad, a leading scholar of American religion and distinguished Baylor graduate, summarized the tasks of the university in two brief statements:
a. To transmit the culture (teaching) and
b. To discover new truth (research)

2. Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), eminent British thinker and sometime Harvard professor of a century ago, wrote in the The Aims of Education that the essence of a liberal education comes by knowledge of masterpieces of thought (philosophy, history, science, etc.) as well as by knowledge of imaginative literature, art and religion. The BIC strives to introduce students to many of these masterpieces of the cultural heritage.

3. Gilbert Highet (1906-1978), well known classicist of the generation following Whitehead and author of The Art of Teaching (1950), counselled students to prepare:
a. By learning the language they would work in
b. By reading the primary sources in the original
c. By becoming familiar with relevant secondary literature
d. And then trusting their own capability in presenting their arguments and conclusions

This description of research sounds simple, but it is pretty demanding, as you will discover if your write a thesis, dissertation or book.

4. During our generation, in The Idea of a University Jaroslav Pelikan identifies four critical components essential for a great university; namely, highly developed:
a. Teaching
b. Research
c. Library resources and
d. Academic press

This is quite a list, and it has all been in play for a long time at Yale where he worked.

C. His fourfold criteria is a challenge for other aspiring universities such as Baylor.
1. Before 2000 Baylor qualified on only one of these four points—teaching and preparing people for life and for vocations.
2. Baylor produced some outstanding teachers, including
*Henry Trantham, a Rhodes scholar
*A. J. Armstrong, English professor for whom the Armstrong-Browning building is named
*Ann Miller, inspired by Armstrong
*Historian Jim Vardaman, Ann’s brother
*Bob Reid, the historian who brought the past to life for me

These people all inspired students in extraordinary ways through their lives, their passion and their delivery of ideas. They shared the power of language and story in unique ways to touch imaginations of countless students.

II. Baylor’s Place as a University

A. For the past two decades the dominant academic narrative at Baylor has been to shift to research and publication.

B. The shift may be outlined in three stages during a 25-year period:
1. President Abner McCall (1961-1981) emphasized good teaching, Every year at the fall faculty meeting he emphasized that Baylor did not have a publish or perish policy, but rather a teach or perish policy. A law professor himself, he insisted on excellence in teaching.
2. President Herbert Reynolds (1981-1995) began to emphasize research. He often said, “We do not require research, but we encourage it, and he supported summer sabbaticals to facilitate both teacher development and small-scale research.
3. President Robert Sloan (1995-2005) moved to require research for tenure at Baylor. In order to achieve tenure in my department now, for instance, one must publish a book and three articles in refereed journals (or nine articles) in the first 6 years at the university.

C. And so the university is serious about making contributions to scholarship.

D. Two criteria remained
1. Digitization and the Internet have revolutionized access to library resources. It is no longer as essential that libraries spend fortunes collecting original copies of manuscript, or that scholars travel to distant archives or libraries to access hundreds of thousands of documents. These vast resources are now available in the researcher’s home.
2. Baylor Press has increased its productions enormously, aspiring to join other notable university presses.

E. So by Pelikan’s criteria, for achieving academic excellence we are on the way at Baylor..

III. The Baylor Interdisciplinary Core at Baylor:

I will recount a couple of memories of the early days of the BIC

A. First, the Beginnings
1. A couple of years before BIC was organized, President Reynolds asked me to chair a committee to explore the organization of a creative general education curriculum for all Baylor students. The committee met often during the year.
2. However, there were a couple of problems we did not work through:
a. One was the assumption that we could create a program for the entire undergraduate student body of about 2000 (now about 3000).
b. The second problem was the size and complexity of the committee—25 people from a diverse collection of disciplines.
3. As you can imagine, people resisted for a variety of reasons. In essence, they did not want to lessen current requirements for their majors nor add hours to graduation requirements to achieve an interdisciplinary program.
4. My reluctant report to the President was that there did not seem to be a will to go forward with this innovative project.
5. However, not to be denied, the next year President Reynolds appointed Bob Baird to chair a committee addressing the issue. By reconceivig the BIC as a self-selecting program of 200/2000 (200/3000 now) instead of a requirement for the entire university, it succeeded.

B. Story Two: Bill Cooper’s Commitment to this program
1. Bill Cooper, a philosophy professor who still teaches in the BIC, at that time was serving as Dean of Arts and Sciences. He was supportive of the idea.
2. And so we began to create something new and valuable.
3. Why would I be interested? I had a double major in history and religion. I had taught Western Civilization in history departments for nine years before joining the Baylor Religion Department.
a. I loved my Western Civilization courses. But it was time to look more broadly at World Cultures, not just European cultures.
b. Second, much of our material for general education courses was excerpts pre-digested and delivered in textbooks and lectures. Now we would read excerpts from masterpieces and set aside time for student discussion.
c. Third, we would have mane opportunities for connecting disciplines. We would be interdisciplinary.
4. World Cultures II was charged with teaching four major components, including China.
5. Our faculty did not know the culture at all so we asked Bill Cooper about the possibility of visiting this ancient culture. Frankly we were amazed and profoundly grateful that he said “yes.” He found funds to send us to China which vastly improved our knowledge, and equally important, inspired us to continue learning more. As I recall, Ann Marie Bowery was on that trip and remarked, “I want to see the pyramids.” She planted a seed for future travel in my mind. I’m glad she did.

C. Values of BIC—There are many rewards for being in the BIC. One is learning from Faculty.
I illustrate by paying tribute to the BIC colleagues I have worked with for ten or more years.
1. Eric Rust’s video essays are aesthetic masterpieces, combining art, music and poetic use of language.
2. Ann McGlashan reminded us that it is okay to take some leisure time, where creativity is more likely to flourish. Her presence and lectures made me aware of the roles of women in multiple cultures.
3. Paul Larson’s passion for Spain remains undimmed. He models the love of other cultures and the value of travel and living abroad.
4. Lynn Tatum introduces students to essentials of Islam and Judaism with energy of delivery as explosive as it was 25 years ago.
5. Having Xin Wang join our faculty meant that Chinese culture came alive in students’ imaginations in ways no non-Asian (the rest of the faculty) was capable of achieving.
6. We also have recently added newer colleagues: David Zori, Colleen Zori, Ivo Novakovic, Craig Clarkson, and John Michael Marrs. All of them add to the richness of the course through specialized knowledge and insights we would never acquire individually.

D. Value of the BIC Studies
1. One of the values and great contributions of the BIC is its aspiration to sustain and promote Baylor’s tradition of high quality teaching and learning. Team teaching and student discussion offer a special site for academic growth.
2. I don’t have the time to re-count the many values of the BIC for students, but you have experienced them for yourselves for four years—diversity, tolerance, breadth of knowledge, analysis of issues, critical reasoning and writing . . . The list goes on. You have worked hard at engaging new ideas and expanding your horizons.

In conclusion
1. Value your university degree. You have accomplished something of value which can never be taken away from you.
2. Value Baylor for the treasure of opening intellectual vistas, providing a place for finding significant friends, preparing you for vocations, and for providing models for your life. Also commend Baylor for aspirations to be a better university than she already is.
3. Finally, value the BIC for the way it has informed your mind, but perhaps even more for the way it has formed your life.

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