Baylor Homecoming Weekend is a joyous occasion for alumni to gather with faculty and retired faculty, trade memories, catch up on life, sometimes to such fulfilling degrees that the homecoming game pales by comparison. It’s also a time for the rest of us to again appreciate and marvel over the bond Baylor University has consistently forged with the greater Waco area over the past decade involving everything from hike-and-bike infrastructure to continuing educational opportunities for seniors who spurn the rocking chair and refuse to quit learning.

Concerned about what some claim is a constitutional crisis and others dismiss as anything but? Consider the recent Baylor Law School lecture by Princeton University constitutional scholar Robert P. George in an event free and open to the public. His points are beyond contention as Americans marvel at what unfolds before them in Washington: “[P]eople need to understand [constitutional principles] and value them, value them enough to resist usurpations by their rulers, even when unconstitutional programs offer immediate gratifications or relief from urgent problems.”

Or consider the National Science Foundation five-year, $1 million Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics grant made to Baylor’s School of Engineering and Computer Science to ensure that high-achieving undergraduates in financial need complete degrees in engineering, electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, computer science or bioinformatics. Such programs and grants (thank you, NSF!) support community leaders in bolstering the sort of workforce that commands good pay from companies contemplating Waco as home turf — and those already here.

Nor is Baylor all about law and science. Consider the rousing symposium on evangelical Christianity conducted last month by the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion as a tribute to the great David Bebbington, a visiting faculty scholar who has done more than most to define evangelicalism — particularly relevant as high-profile individuals in what passes for the national evangelical movement virtually anoint our president as the critical conduit to a better world. Debate over this and other evangelical dilemmas past and present proved rollicking and thought-provoking. And, again, this was free and open to the public.

So if Baylor Homecoming (complete with a massive 8 a.m. Saturday parade downtown) makes traffic more congested this weekend, let’s also remember that, like Magnolia Market at the Silos, it’s a terrific problem for Waco to now have. Let’s remember, too, the many ways that Baylor makes Waco a better place while challenging each of us to grow intellectually, physically and spiritually. And before we leave this weekend’s happenings and possibilities, we encourage all who champion the riverside memorial to hometown hero Doris Miller to join in Saturday’s “Gospel Explosion” at the Grand Lodge of Texas in a celebration of the 100th anniversary of Miller’s birth. Proceeds go toward paying off remaining costs of this impressive memorial with part also earmarked for scholarships. See you there!

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