The business school’s newly appointed dean offers answers to some of the most pressing questions about Baylor’s future. Dr. Sandeep Mazumder will officially become the business school dean July 1. Originally from London, England, Mazumder received his B.A. and M.A. in economics from St. Catherine’s College at Cambridge University and moved to the United States in 2004 to complete his M.A. and Ph.D. in economics at Johns Hopkins University. He began teaching at Wake Forest University in 2009 and is currently the chair of Wake Forest’s Department of Economics.
Mazumder grew up in a Hindu family but eventually converted to Christianity after coming to the U.S. and meeting his wife who grew up as a Christian. Ironically, he did attend a Church of England elementary school as a child. “A lot of the Scriptural stories made sense to me once I was an adult and came back to the faith,” he said.
In particular, the book of Jonah had a profound impact on him as someone who grew up believing in an impersonal deity. “The personal nature of God, the fact that he knows you and wants to love you, that really changed my perspective on things,” he explained.
Mazumder’s faith is foundational to his research as an economist and his teaching as a professor. “In economics we teach about profit maximization. How does one reconcile profit maximization with being a Christian, with being called to help the poor and the marginalized?” He emphasized that this can be reconciled if Christians understand their role as stewards in God’s kingdom. “It’s really important not to separate the secular from the sacred. Everything is a part of God’s kingdom.” Asking questions like, “How am I studying business to promote God’s kingdom and give Him the glory and praise?” and “How are we helping the vulnerable in society?” will point Christians in business toward their ultimate purpose.
Mazumder described the Church’s role in the realm of business. “Creation was good, and it is broken. We should not be surprised by that. It will be redeemed, but in the meantime we should fix the broken system where possible.” Christians should not be naïve about the fallenness of the world or overconfident in public policy; recessions will come, industries will fail, and people will lose their jobs. Instead, business leaders and politicians should learn and try to mitigate future disasters. The Church should neither despair nor be surprised when bad things happen but should operate with stability and steadfastness as they turn to God for guidance.
Like the Church, Baylor also has a unique role in the world. Considering that it is a research university with top academic programs across multiple disciplines, Division I athletics with a history of national championships, and a community of value-driven students and alumni who care for each other, all located on a beautiful 1,000-acre campus in the heart of Texas, one has to wonder: what other schools match Baylor? What schools offer classroom excellence, academic scholarship, and a rich student experience while promoting a Christian identity? What other college teams win national championships based on a culture of JOY, placing Jesus Christ and others above self? Some schools may offer one or two of these characteristics, but Baylor’s complete college experience coupled with its commitment to Christian values is remarkable, especially considering the degradation of Christian colleges in American higher education.
A Christian worldview brings a unique sense of joy and purpose in research to discover more about God and His creation, using insights to better serve the world.
Perhaps the answer is “lots of schools,” and also “none.” Baylor is unique, but its character and mission are also precarious. We are uniquely equipped to impact the world, but only if we hold fast to our mission to be unabashedly Christian and simultaneously outstanding in research and practice.
The Hankamer School of Business is especially influential. Hankamer houses over 4,100 students, comprising 24% of the entire undergraduate student population at Baylor. The business school’s undergraduate program ranks in the top 70 schools in the U.S. and has top 15 MBA and entrepreneurship programs, and its advisory board brings expertise from executives from multinational companies such as AT&T, ExxonMobil, PayPal, and Adobe.
Considering its size and impact, what makes Hankamer unique as a Christian business school? As a Christian institution, what types of goals should Hankamer be pursuing? How should Hankamer’s program and curriculum differ from other top business schools across the country? These are the pressing questions that a new dean of the business school has to answer.
To describe Hankamer’s role in the world, Mazumder explained, “Business schools ultimately are promoting and studying wealth creation. We are doing it for the purpose of human flourishing.” Hankamer’s curriculum should equip students with proficient technical skills “to help communities promote better business practices that prioritize Christian values” rather than “promoting self, which is what the average business school experience is about.”
Another leader in the business school, Dr. Shane Underwood, the Department Chair of Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate at Hankamer, also shared his perspective on Hankamer’s role. “In some respects, a Christian research university is no different than any other research university in the sense that you are pursuing research and trying to understand the truth about nature, people’s interaction in financial markets, etc.”
Underwood explained that the Christian label does not downgrade the school’s scholarship as some may assume. Rather, a Christian worldview brings a unique sense of joy and purpose in research to discover more about God and His creation, using insights to better serve the world. For the business school, this means seeking to serve society through research aimed at how to promote faithful stewardship of capital, market efficiency, and better financial decision making to help the marginalized in society.
“Achievements alone will not make you happy; it’s about the journey and how you’ve grown,”
To take Hankamer to the next level as a Christian R1 research institution, Mazumder wants to build upon the work of Dean Maness and promote unity across the university by focusing on four goals. First, he wants Baylor to produce impactful scholarship for the purpose of human flourishing. He emphasized the importance of including undergraduate students in this process and wants to see more faculty-student research. At Wake Forest, many professors like Mazumder have published papers with undergraduate students in top academic journals. “Having that delivery of material and instruction directly to students from top scholars is transformational. That doesn’t happen in most top research schools.”
Second, he wants Baylor to continue to make the classroom experience applicable and meaningful for students so that they are prepared to enter their careers. He wants students to become principled leaders and fulfill their callings as stewards of God’s gifts to impact the world, using their technical skills for the right ends. Mazumder suggested collaborating with other academic groups at Baylor to offer a more interdisciplinary approach, partnering with businesses in the classroom to promote experiential learning, and encouraging student-run businesses under faculty guidance.
Third, he wants to promote diversity. In addressing the importance of diversity, Mazumder explained that “we are all image bearers, and we are all adopted children into God’s family. Because of that, we should expect that makeup of our family to be people from various groups.” The business school should reflect as much as possible the biblical idea that God’s people will come from “every tribe and nation.”
Lastly, he wants to foster a culture of authenticity. “Life gets hard, even for us as faculty and staff,” Mazumder said. “If we don’t teach students about how to handle those trials now, that doesn’t prepare you for when you’re out in the real world. It’s not just about successes. We need to also experience the failures.”
Achieving R1 status and creating a transformational learning experience are certainly top priorities, but these successes are vain without unity and love. “Achievements alone will not make you happy; it’s about the journey and how you’ve grown,” Mazumder said. “As Christians, we don’t need to achieve things to have worth because we already have worth from God.”
Underwood offered a similar thought about defining success for the business school. “We have a lot to contribute, but I think we only make that contribution if we stand firm on our Christian identity and keep that at the center of everything… If we pretend that Christ doesn’t make a difference in how we do our research and teaching, then I don’t think that is consistent with the message he gave us.”
This vision of success is increasingly uncommon in American higher education considering academia’s drift toward secularism. Many of higher education’s most prestigious institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, Duke, Notre Dame, and Wake Forest have long ago jettisoned their Christian roots. In an increasingly post-Christian society, the world certainly needs an institution like Baylor – one that remains unambiguously Christian and academically excellent – and Baylor certainly needs leaders who will remain faithful to the university’s mission. The Baylor community welcomes Dr. Mazumder with Christian love, and it is with this love that Baylor will impact the world.
Andrew Hall ('21) studied finance, math, and political science at Baylor University and was a Baylor in Washington Program participant during the Spring 2021 semester. He works as an Advisory Associate for Calvetti Ferguson in San Antonio, TX. He enjoys reading the Bible, spending time with his local church, and learning how to incorporate faith into the realms of finance and entrepreneurship.