Winter 2023 Newsletter

December 12, 2023
Winter 2023 Header

Hope and the Trails Ahead

As I step aside from the work I have been honored to do in the Institute for Faith and Learning, I am struck by two things:

1) Life is a short trip. When I came to Baylor in 2006, my oldest daughter was a bright and happy two-year-old who loved to sing and color with crayons. Today she is a talented and energetic sophomore at Baylor, reading great texts and studying art history.

2) Aristotle was right when he said that none of us would choose to live without friends, even if we had everything else. None of my work has been done alone. I have been immeasurably blessed by friends and colleagues who have cared, listened, encouraged, and given wise counsel. They have blessed not only my work but the totality of my life.

I firmly believe that IFL’s best days are ahead. Sometime in the coming months, a new director will be named. That talented person will have a tremendous opportunity to shape the life and work of IFL in a unique way. The new director will find gifted colleagues in IFL and across the University and scores of well-wishers from literally all over the world. Count me as chief among the encouragers the new director will find.

IFL’s best days will be needed because Baylor’s aspirations have never been higher, nor have the challenges in American higher education been greater.

Amarillo cowboys

The photo above was taken in 1946 north of Amarillo, Texas. The cowboy on the ground, second from the left, was my grandfather, Mark Davis, Sr. He and his friends were at the end of a long trail ride.

I am drawn especially to the expression on my grandfather’s face. He is smiling broadly. Knowing him as I did, he was probably telling a good story that made his friends laugh. They are happy just to be in one another’s presence. There is joy there, but also hope about being together again soon and what trails might be ahead.

Friends, it’s been a very good ride. With hope, let us think about where we still might go.


Darin Davis signature

Darin Davis

Baylor's Office of the Provost hosts appreciation lunch for Darin Davis

appreciation lunch group

The Office of the Provost held an appreciation lunch for Darin Davis on December 5th in the President's Suite of the Baylor Club in recognition of his many years of service to the Institute for Faith and Learning, as well as to the Baylor community as a whole. Speakers included Don Schmeltekopf, provost emeritus; James Benninghof, longtime vice provost; Douglas Henry, dean of the Honors College; Nancy Brickhouse, vice president and provost; and Darin Davis himself. Davis spoke of his time at the Institute for Faith and Learning and especially of the friendships he's formed along the way, reiterating that he believed the best years of IFL lie ahead.

Darin and Daughters


Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture: Called Together in an Age of Discord

The 2023 Baylor Symposium on Faith and Culture on October 25-27 was a resounding success, drawing about 500 participants from over 70 different institutions. The Institute for Faith and Learning is grateful for conference support from the Soundings Project and the Called to Lives of Meaning and Purpose Initiative, funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. Photos of the conference are available here, and videos of select sessions are available on our YouTube channel.

BSFC Crowd

Crane Scholars Program

Cranes 2023

The Crane Scholars Program continues to thrive, with students deeply engaged in meaningful discussions about the role of Christian higher education, the relationship between modernity and Christianity, and the reflections on their own vocation and calling in light of the Christian faith. The semester concluded with our annual Advent Dinner. Dr. Larry Parsley from Truett Seminary gave a meaningful sermon on the significance of Advent. Students are eagerly anticipating the spring retreat.

Multiple Crane Scholars have expressed their gratitude for the intellectual and spiritual growth fostered by the program. Numerous students have shared that the Crane Scholars Program stands out as the most fulfilling and transformative experience at Baylor. Senior Crane Scholars have conveyed that what they will miss most after graduating from Baylor is the Crane Scholars Program. Many of them came in as strangers, but now have become lifelong friends. It is a great privilege to see IFL contribute to the formation of such remarkable students.


Missio logo 600 pixels

Missio continues to flourish. This semester, faculty members across the university engaged in discussions on important topics, including the distinctive role of Christian higher education, the storied history of Baylor University, and the place of wisdom in university life. We are also grateful for the friendships that have been developed through Missio. These relationships and discussions continue to strengthen our faculty's commitment to Baylor and its significant Christian mission.

Missio meet and greet