By Sara Tirrito
Practicing Christians of non-Baptist faiths can now make up one quarter of the Baylor board of regents, as decided by a vote to amend the university’s by-laws at today’s board of regents meeting.
Also approved were the creation of a new center for Baptist research, a plan to provide more scholarship money to students whose parents are Baptist ministers or missionaries, and the decision to hire an architectural firm that will design the East Village Residential Community—a proposed project to provide more on-campus housing for students.
The amendment to the university’s by-laws came as a result of the increasing number of nondenominational Christian members of the Baylor family, Dary Stone, chair of the board of regents, said.
“[This] generation specifically is in a post-denominational mood and mode, so statistically for instance, this year’s freshman class is not even one-third Baptist. So what we saw in our leadership governing rules was the fact that we were excluding two-thirds of our future leaders who all chose Baylor because of it’s Baptist heritage, its Christian mission and loved Baylor and want to contribute to it,” Stone said. “We felt like as demographic trends continued, it was incumbent upon us to make sure that what has turned out to be the vast majority of the Baylor family was not disqualified from leadership at the university.”
Drayton McLane Jr., regent emeritus, said including regents of other denominations would only be beneficial to the university.
“Since the time Baylor was founded in 1845, the university has represented superior higher Christian education with the core values of the Texas Baptist faith,” McLane said. “Having the ability to bring in additional board members to make contributions to the leadership with their time, talent and financial means will only enhance Baylor’s ability to move the university forward.”
The Baptist Studies Center for Research, which was also approved at the meeting and will be part of the university’s religion department, is intended to be a place where Baptist history can be studied and preserved.
“In terms of going forward as a center for learning, for scholarship, for archival work, Baylor University is the place on the planet to house this center, and so I am, on behalf of the administration, very thankful that the board of regents took this action today,” President Ken Starr said.
The scholarship plan endorsed by the regents and slated to begin this fall is hoped to increase scholarship funds for students whose parents are Baptist ministers or missionaries. The proposed increase of more than 300 percent would mean this group would receive more than half a million dollars in scholarship money each year.
At the meeting, it was also approved that the East Village Residential Community would be designed by Hanbury, Evans, Wright, Vlattas and Company together with Overland Partners.
“This is only a very preliminary step,” Starr said. “The concept has been approved by the board and now the concept is viewed with such favor that the board has determined that we take it to the next step, which is to engage the architectural firm. So we’re right where we want and need to be.”