Higher Education & Student Affairs

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One journey to Baylor

My journey to Baylor began over 20 years ago when I was a junior in college.  As I was finishing up my biology degree and preparing to go to medical school, I realized the depth of my loneliness and lack of purpose.  I took a step forward by joining the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and soon discovered the unconditional love the Lord had for me. 

Two years later I was enrolled in master’s program focused on counseling and student affairs, learning how to help college students overcome many of the same challenges I had faced.  I like to say that I was actively mastering what I had passively suffered. 

For my first full-time job, my desire to understand Christian higher education led me to a small Christian university of ~1,000 students.  For four years I enjoyed a close community of fellow believers and flourished with many opportunities for growth and service.  I learned that the drawback of close Christian community is that the world still exists and you often come to see your community as a Christian “bubble”, which can lead to a loss of spiritual challenge in your faith.      

I grew hungry for a return to the secular world of higher education, desiring to live my faith among non-believers.  This was the environment in which I had become a Christian and I knew the importance of His disciples in these settings.  For the next 12 years I worked in environments where my faith was a more private part of my life but hopefully a flickering light in the darkness. 

As I prepared for a professional advancement, I discovered that my Christian values were in greater likelihood of clashing with a growing secularity in student affairs.  I was disappointed that there were no Christian universities of a strong national academic reputation.  I had always thought that my choice was between a small Christian university with a weak academic reputation or a larger secular university with a stronger academic reputation.  One day, after being challenged by a Christian leader to consider leaving the Appalachian mountains my wife and I so loved, I stumbled upon Baylor – a university that was Christian, larger, and had a strong academic reputation.  The problem was that it was in Texas, over 1,500 miles from my home. 

The Lord soon melted (using the Texas heat 😉 any concerns that came with a long journey from all our friends and family and we settled in Texas at an institution like none other – an institution unabashedly Christian and academically acclaimed. 

The treasure that is Baylor is only now just beginning to emerge on the national scene.  Obviously, division I sports has helped with this, but academics and student life are equally impressive.  I am blessed that I can work at institution where I can begin a meeting with a public prayer and fellowship with faculty who are publishing in top journals and worshipping alongside of me.  Of the nine higher education institutions I have been a part of, none has the vibrant traditions and active history as Baylor. 

If I were a Christian, and I loved to learn about the integration of my faith and higher education, I would run toward an institution like Baylor, and open my mind and heart to a community committed to developing students into servants and leaders.    

Jeff Doyle, Ph.D., Dean for Student Learning and Engagement


scottshepherd • October 22, 2012

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