Speaker to highlight role of faith in education

By Sara Tirrito
Staff Writer

Dr. Lee S. Shulman will deliver the next Presidential Symposium Series lecture on Thursday, titled “Learning to Profess: Challenges and Opportunities for Liberal Education in Faith-based Universities.”

The lecture will be at 3 p.m. in the Kayser Auditorium of the Hankamer School of Business.

Shulman is currently president emeritus of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University.

Dr. Jim Bennighof, vice provost for academic affairs and policy, said he expects to hear Shulman speak about how a people’s diverse viewpoints can give them richer perspectives on issues.

“One of the things he’s looking at is the combination of one being an academic scholar in a particular area and also being a person of faith,” Bennighof said. “I think that he views these two perspectives as being different vantage points for seeing and encountering the world, and I think he thinks that the ability to look at the same issue from different perspectives can be very provocative in terms of thinking about what’s important with respect to the issues that you’re looking at.”

Shulman’s own background as a scholar and a Jew can help him bring in an even broader perspective on faith and learning, Dr. Jon Engelhardt, dean of the School of Education, said.

“It may be unusual for someone who is of the Jewish faith to address this topic of spiritual dimensions at a Christian university,” Engelhardt said. “He sees this in a way that adds a spiritual dimension regardless of what particular faith you’re working from. It gives him a perspective about this issue that is not sort of the standard line. He’s coming at it as more of an objective outsider.”

Shulman also sees the importance of both liberal arts education and professional schools and the ways that they can work together, said Dr. Wes Null, associate dean in the Honors College and incoming vice provost for undergraduate education.

“What I appreciate most about his work is he obliterates the distinction between liberal arts education and professional preparation, and sees them both as integrally related to one another and necessary for one another,” Null said. “He is every bit as committed to liberal arts education as he is to quality professional preparation. He’s someone that recognizes that professional schools and colleges of arts and sciences have a lot to say to one another and are best when they’re working in collaboration with one another.”

Null said Shulman can help those who attend the lecture to think about Baylor’s uniqueness and its place in higher education.

“Lee Shulman has a very good sense of higher education in America,” Null said.

“He knows the landscape of American higher education and can help everyone there to think through how Baylor can and should both fit within that landscape and provide leadership within that landscape.”