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Henry to be First Master of Brooks College at Baylor

[Baylor University Seal] — Earlier this year I reported on plans to establish Brooks College, the first residential college at Baylor University in Texas. Baylor has today announced that Prof. Douglas Henry of Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning will be Brooks College’s first master.

Baylor’s announcements and public plans for Brooks College have demonstrated a very thorough understanding of the residential college idea in all its details. I have no doubt that Brooks College will serve as an example to be replicated at Baylor for many years to come.

Update · 19 September 2006 — The story below by Sarah Viesca from today’s Baylor Lariat provides further details about Prof. Henry’s appointment and about Baylor’s wise plans for Brooks College.

Faculty master position filled at Brooks

Sept. 19, 2006

New traditions and new communities will be created next fall for Brooks Village when Dr. Douglas Henry, assistant professor of philosophy and director of the Institute of Faith and Learning, becomes faculty master for Brooks Residential College.

As faculty master, Henry will organize and contribute to new traditions and practices observed within the college. This includes providing a community that cultivates academic excellence, forming strong faculty-student interaction and creating a student experience full of Baylor traditions, Henry said.

“I hope to bring a vision of intellectual community in which (students) share a common conception of the good life,” Henry said.

Henry will coordinate a weekly community dinner where distinguished students and guests will sit at the college’s “High Table.” He will also host “Master’s Teas,” giving students opportunities to interact with faculty and renowned guests. In addition, Henry will meet monthly with the Brooks College Board of Trustees to set admission protocols and consider activities for the college.

The existence of the faculty master position is an important signal of academic integration because some of Baylor’s residential facilities don’t have involved faculty, said Frank Shushok, dean for student learning and engagement.

“Doug brings a real vision for building community and has a unique vision on how faith and learning can come together and be part of the College,” Shushok said.

As one of two new residential buildings under construction at Brooks Village, Brooks College is designed after traditional residential colleges found at Oxford and Cambridge in order to promote a long-term living commitment. The college will house 375 men and women of all academic majors on an application basis.

Brooks College will feature a great dining hall, chapel, common rooms and a library.

Henry said he first became interested in the position because he was excited about what Brooks College represents.

“It seemed to fit so many aspirations I have,” he said.

Henry said he hopes to bring an understanding of the basic requisites that are part of community life. He also said he wants to be accessible to students.

“I want to be available for the students who call Brooks home,” Henry said.

Baylor will provide a 2,800-square-foot apartment for Henry as he steps into his new position, providing him and his wife, Dr. Michele Henry, associate professor of music education, with a place to call home.

“I hope my family can collectively serve as a reminder to the students of Brooks College that families are the most basic of all social units,” Henry said.

In his new role, Henry will work closely with Residential College Coordinator Larry Hughes. Together Henry and Hughes will provide professional leadership for the College.

Hughes said the faculty master position makes a tremendous statement to students: the on-campus housing experience truly combines living and learning.

“Dr. Henry’s interests in history, philosophy and theology give him an understanding into the ideas of a residential college,” Hughes said. “He and his family are very personable and not strangers to conversations with students.”

Henry is on sabbatical this fall.

He will return to Baylor in January to resume his teaching and administrative responsibilities.

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