The Foundation of Academic Excellence

The News Magazine of HBU

By Roy Jones

As a 20-year-old transferring to Houston Baptist University after my sophomore year of college, I perceived myself not as a student-athlete but rather an athlete-student. Thriving in my athletic career had been my number one goal. Having grown up in Houston, which at the time was simply a growing metropolis with a small-town feel, I didn’t have much awareness of the University situated practically in my backyard. Rather, I was simply looking forward to returning to familiar surroundings of family and friends, continuing my athletic career, and pursuing my college education after having begun my college career far from home.

The prior season, I had played against HBU in both home and away games. Regarding the road game against the Huskies, I remember traveling to the game from our hotel and the driver asking if anyone knew the actual location of the school. This was of course, pre-Google or GPS. One of my, then, teammates pointed to me and said, ‘This guy is from Houston.’ I remarked, “Yes, but I have no idea where the school might be,” although I had grown up a mere 20 minutes from the campus.

Leaping forward in time, about seven or so months later, I arrived for the first week of classes at HBU. I must confess, I hadn’t given much thought to the fact that the word “Baptist” was squarely and firmly embedded in the middle of the institution’s name. From a personal perspective, I had professed and accepted the Lord and was baptized as a pre-teen. I had actively grown to young adulthood in my parent’s home in the Christian faith, having served in various capacities in what could be best termed “a conservative traditionalist Baptist church.” But I was now a young adult college student, living on my own, which can be an interesting and cautionary intersection of one’s religious upbringing and the secular world.

I could not have been more ill-equipped for what I would encounter at HBU. The first prong was the deployment, and rightfully so, of caring, academically-trained faculty and staff that followed a well-rounded approach and were invested in the success of each student. While I have not attended a course at HBU in more decades than I care to remember, next-generation members of my family who have attended expressed the same thoughts regarding HBU faculty and administration.

The next element was and remains to this day, the University’s foundational pursuit of academia in a Christian environment. As the seventh pillar of the governing Ten Pillars states: “Bring Athens and Jerusalem Together,” my personal growth and transformation was a product of the masterful ability of the administration, faculty, staff, and yes, student body, to combine scholarly knowledge with spiritual understanding and teachings. Herein lies my understanding and perspective of true academic excellence in a Christian environment: to burnish young minds, cultivate perspectives, and provide for a fulfilling academic experience rather than sacrificing, actively promulgating Christian principles.

The final element is the school’s core reason for coming into existence has remained intact and been built upon through the careful nurturing of academic excellence while remaining true and steadfast to its most basic guiding purpose. This was foundationally expressed to me in the required segments of biblical curriculum study, through the mandated attendance of weekly assembly, all the while cultivated in a culture of spiritual growth and wellness. Then, as now, Christianity remained under attack and antithetical to many worldly pursuits. The God-centered pursuit and unconditional profession that “Jesus is Lord” has spiritually fed and academically enriched the lives of students whose paths have led them to and through HBU. As classes, faculty, staff and guiding administrations have experienced seasons that have come and gone, the core principle has simultaneously remained the same while ever-flourishing.

As an alumnus, when I visit the campus today, I am always taken aback by the tremendous transformation the campus has undergone. The dynamic growth in terms of physical campus structures, expanded curriculum offerings, and student body enrollment, all serve as discernable testaments to the vision of the founders and their, likely deemed at the time, “overly ambitious” belief that something of great import could ever rise out of old rice fields in southwest Houston.

As the Christian faith sets forth, “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” It has been my lifelong appreciation to be associated with the University and to have been transformed from that young naïve athlete-student to a thriving student-athlete. Subsequently, my faith has been built on an ever-increasing foundation, started as a young pre-teen, augmented, shaped, and honed while at HBU and carried forth through a fulfilling life’s journey through family pursuits, professional accomplishments, and most importantly, spiritual growth.

Thankfully, the Caretaker of the vineyard directed me to HBU, allowed me to thrive while there, did not see the need to cut me down, and patiently waited for some productive fruit. My experience at the University resulted in personal growth and an impact that has sustained itself, not only in my case, but I would submit for innumerable others, which, by itself, is a definitively strong argument for the pursuit of academic excellence with a distinct Christian worldview.

About Roy Jones

Roy D. Jones ‘83 graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Finance and Financial Management Services from HBU. He is a financial industry professional with a long-tenured career in banking both in the public and private sector, real estate development, enterprise-risk and retail/corporate banking operations. He has held leadership roles in the private sector including mortgage brokerage, retail lending and commercial lending oversight. A former member of the HBU Huskies Basketball program, he enjoys traveling and spending time with family.