In the 1950s at Baylor University, the philosophy of student success grew in its importance and emphasis. A more robust academic experience was necessary. As a result, the traditional understanding of the curriculum began to change to include additional co-curricular activities and expanded educational opportunities. For some student populations , the curriculum provided direct access to a vocational understanding of success.
Historically, education prepared students to be well-rounded, productive citizens with intellectual virtues. However, in Curriculum Specialization: Adapting to Students and Society, Kristin Koch addresses how Baylor also prepared students to be skillful and employable members of society. Together, liberal arts and specialized education met the needs of more diverse groups of students, including veterans, and offered more catalysts for success after college.
Baylor University faculty and administration did not necessarily agree with students on what the purpose and outcome of an education should be. In Student Success in the 1950s, Deanna Calder focuses on how Baylor worked to drive student success in light of a general curriculum focused on vocational outcomes and practicality. Students benefitted from an expansion of the orientation co-curriculum, the development of a career center and the mentorship of faculty and staff advisors.
According to Baylor, an educated person was unapologetically Baptist and had completed a degree that was recognized by greater academia. Nick Blair’s Improving the Legitimacy of Baptist Education follows how, with encouragement from the Texas General Baptist Convention, Baylor sought ways to provide further master’s and doctoral degrees to establish academic legitimacy on the national scale. It was not enough to just acquire academic knowledge; to be educated, students had to apply their education through their vocation as Christians in a secular world.
Baylor sought to create a more comprehensive academic experience by expanding the traditional idea of curriculum. Throughout the decade, Baylor promoted co-curricular programs, established new student experiences, expanded specialized education and created master’s and doctoral programs. The following papers will discuss the changing curriculum and co-curriculum at Baylor University in the 1950s.