Regents approve budget, health care program

By Chris Derrett
Editor in chief

The Baylor Board of Regents met last week and made several developments toward Baylor’s future. At Friday’s meeting, the board approved next year’s $428.6 million operating budget, agreed to establish the Robbins Institute for Health Policy and Leadership in the Hankamer School of Business and welcomed new members as others finished their terms.

The budget is boosted $25.3 million from the 2010-11 budget approved last year, and compared to last year, $22.5 million more will go toward scholarships, graduate assistantships and scholarships for graduate and professional students. Although the flat, 12-hour tuition rate will increase from $13,483 this year to $14,360, board chair Dary Stone said the increase in budget space is mostly attributable to President Ken Starr’s fundraising efforts.

“Judge Starr’s done a good job raising money, and it’s enabled us to give a healthy amount of scholarship,” Stone said. “The school’s on great financial footing, and judge Starr’s a very popular leader and fundraiser.”

Baylor media communications also reported that budget increases will also allow Baylor 19 new full-time faculty positions, 43 replacement faculty positions and 31 new staff positions. New hirings, Stone said, will help the university achieve its Baylor 2012 imperatives.

“We’ve got good, competitive raises for our faculty, and it’s good to attract new, great faculty. We’re taking care of that which we have and adding to it,” Stone said.

Among other goals, the first imperative lists a desired student-to-faculty ratio of 13-to-1. The Baylor Office of Institutional Research and Testing reported a 14-1 ratio for 2010-2011.

Beyond the budget, the board approved the Robbins Institute for Health Policy and Leadership, which will provide new avenues for business students wanting to develop policy on health care.

From the Robbins Institute will come a health care track in Baylor’s executive MBA program and eventually a certificate program offering short courses for professionals already in health care professions.

Baylor School of Business Dean Terry Maness hopes the institute will attract more students wanting to explore health care policy at Baylor. Previously they could only pursue a concentration in health care administration through the MBA program.

“What the Robbins Institute does is give a name to a program and shows people we really have an institute now,” Maness said. “This will give us an umbrella to bring research together. Not only that, but it provides a platform of more to do.”

Maness also wanted to thank the institute’s main donors, Baylor graduates Bill and Mary Jo Robbins, who backed the program because of the importance of health care policy.

“Their involvement will ensure that the Hankamer health care initiative will catapult to the next level through the activities of the Robbins Institute,” Maness said in an email to the Lariat.

Stone said the Robbins Institute could affect more students than one would think.

“Approximately 30 percent of all Baylor students will list as a priority an interest in health care. These new monies provided will add to curriculum, facilities and programs for those that want go into it,” Stone said. Like the approved budget, the executive MBA program’s health care track is expected to go into effect and be available for students enrolling next year.

The board also thanked four regents who have completed their terms – Stan Allcorn, Wes Bailey, R. Stephen Carmack and Harold R. Cunningham and welcomed six new regents – M. Jay Allison, Dr. Kenneth Q. Carlile, Jerry Kay T. Clements, Mark A. McCollum, C. Clifton Robinson and Milton Hixson, who was elected to the board by the Baptist General Convention of Texas last November.