Starr advises how to tamp down anxiety

President Ken Starr gives a speech about “A Balanced Baylor,” during the April STEPP luncheon Tuesday. The speech featured his experiences of how to balance life with the demands of family, job, personal health and faith.
Matt Hellman | Lariat Photographer

By Daniel Houston

President Ken Starr told Baylor staff on Tuesday they can better serve what he described as a “needful generation” of students.

Citing studies by social scientists and polls of students across the country, Starr said students today are in a unique position: They have higher levels of self-esteem than previous generations, yet they deal with more anxiety.

“This is a needful generation, and we’re seeing that,” Starr said. “We are seeing that in this class. We are seeing this in the current student body. The number of needs for counseling, the need for intervention, it’s very high. The good news is, so many of these young men and women have great hearts for service. They’re very strong persons of faith and want to live out their faith in their lives.”

Starr said the staff needs to “[strive] for mutually beneficial solutions” that benefit both Baylor and the student body, a priority he learned from author Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”

“That comes from a very Christian attitude of respecting the dignity of the person or persons across the table,” Starr said.

Starr also gave the audience advice he had gathered for dealing with stress. He emphasized the importance of taking stock of one’s priorities and not getting distracted by things that might seem immediately pressing, but are, relatively unimportant in the context of other responsibilities.

The event at which Starr spoke was a luncheon organized by the Staff Council, which is chaired by Ronald English, an academic support adviser for referrals.

English said Starr’s speech was helpful and well received by the audience.

“Judge Starr’s speech was nothing less than what I expected from him,” English said. He gave us a lot of good tips about centering ourselves. I think a lot of times we get so busy in the day-to-day work and the calls of duty from various places that we lose sight of who we are and those things that might be important.”

Chris Diamond, a member of the Staff Council who works in Baylor’s library system, said the evaluation forms attendees turned in were generally positive.

“The one thing I took away from it is the seventh habit that he mentioned: sharpen your own saw,” Diamond said. “Just that in order to be a good servant leader, you can’t do it at the expense of your own well-being, that in order to serve others better you have to take time to replenish yourself.

“If you don’t do that, you’re not serving the students and the campus to your full capacity, which is really a disservice to everyone.”

Although today’s students are perceived as needful and deal with high levels of anxiety, Starr said many Baylor students are people of faith with a desire to serve in the community and around the world.

“Those are the young men and women that we are honored and privileged and blessed to serve,” Starr said. “But they are all needful, and thus it falls on us as servants — as servant leaders — to make sure that we organize our own house in a way that would be encouraging to them, and that we are the most effective servants that we can be.”