Dr. Jay Givens
Called to Wayland
Dr. Jay Givens grew up in southeast Texas surrounded by bayous and pine trees. He graduated from Little Cypress-Mauriceville High School located in Orange, TX, then went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from Lamar University located in Beaumont, TX. He then earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“When I went to seminary, my plan was to remain a BSM director or serve as a university
minister. I fell in love with theology after my first class, however, and pursued
a degree in it.”
Givens said he believes he was called to serve at Wayland.
“My first encounter with Wayland was on a family vacation after my freshman year of college,” Givens recalled. “Traveling down I-27, I distinctly recall seeing the large green sign, ‘Wayland Baptist University, Next Right,’ and thinking to myself, ‘Who would want to go to school here?!’ I was from Southeast Texas, with tall pine trees so thick they blocked the sky, a river for water skiing 10 minutes away, and the Gulf of Mexico just an hour away. Nothing at all like the Caprock! Little did I know then that I would one day teach at that very school.”
Givens’ next encounter with Wayland would be during his doctoral work when a student in a class he was teaching suggested that he teach at Wayland’s Lubbock location.
“As I neared completion of my degree, a professor I knew at another institution told me he had a friend at Wayland’s Hawaii Campus who was leaving to go to Plainview,” Givens said. “I didn’t pay too much attention to either individual, assuming these were adjunct positions and not realizing Wayland had so many external campuses with full time faculty and staff.”
However in the summer of 2000, Givens found a job opening for a religion instructor at the Hawaii campus.
“I quickly called the number and discovered someone wrote the area code wrong. Unlike most of my colleagues, I guess, I took advantage of a ‘new-fangled’ resource called the World Wide Web, found the correct area code and received an interview since there weren’t many applications!”
After two years in Hawaii, Givens and his family decided to move back the the United States mainland. A couple of weeks later, he received a call from Wayland’s Lubbock campus about a position that had opened up there. He taught in Lubbock for a few years, then in January 2006, Givens became the director of the Altus campus. He finally came to work at the Plainview campus in August of 2011.
The thing Givens said he likes best about Wayland is that the faculty and staff “truly seek to educate students in a Christian environment for service to God and humankind.”
“Over the years of service at Wayland’s various campuses, I have grown to love this institution because of its mission and vision. Wayland truly lives by the message on the university seal, to go into all the world in order to let there be light,” Givens added. “We go to the world not just in the sense of various states (and Kenya) but in providing opportunities to first-generation and non-traditional students that many institutions would pass over. More importantly, the light we share is not just the light of education, but more importantly, the light of the Gospel.”
Givens also said that what he liked best about teaching is seeing that spark of understanding come alive in the eyes of students.
When he’s not at Wayland, Givens enjoys photography, camping and hiking. He also has two sons who are currently attending Wayland.