Matt Hellman | Lariat Photo Editor”]
By Daniel C. Houston
The Board of Regents approved a series of programs last week to facilitate university research efforts, equip students for leadership roles in social service organizations and make it easier to pursue careers in Christian ministry.
The regents approved two new master’s degree programs, including one in Christian ministry and another joint program in social work and business administration, at their February meeting which concluded Friday.
They also approved $946,000 in funding for summer residence hall maintenance and $800,000 for high-speed Internet connectivity at the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC).
Buddy Jones, chair of the Board of Regents, commended the board’s work in a Friday press release, highlighting how the actions taken would promote Baylor’s strategic goals.
“We are expanding our academic degree and research programs, and enjoying tremendous amounts of successes in the classrooms and on our athletic fields of play,” Jones said. “We are also moving forward in the development of a dynamic strategic plan that will chart our course over the next decade and strengthen our position as a national research university demonstrating academic excellence and Christian commitment.”
Of the $2.9 million total the regents approved last week, $1.2 million was provided by a grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration for the purpose of installing a fiber optic network running under the Brazos River to connect the BRIC facility with campus.
Dr. Truell Hyde, vice provost for research, described the information-technology infrastructure investment as a necessity for the BRIC facility.
“This will [allow] anyone in the building who’s a Baylor employee to connect [to the Internet] as if he or she was actually sitting on campus,” Hyde said. He added the research being planned at the facility requires “extremely high-quality and high-access bandwidth.”
Hyde also said the infrastructure could be expanded in the future to accommodate the growth of campus as it extends across the Brazos River.
“Eventually we have to go in that direction anyway,” Hyde said, “so we might as well get started [building the IT infrastructure].”
Students at George W. Truett Theological Seminary will have the option of studying under a new degree program: the Master of Arts in Christian Ministry. The new program can be completed in two years instead of the three normally anticipated with the traditional Master of Divinity program, Dr. Dennis Tucker, associate dean at Truett, said.
“[For] those who are planning on going into some kind of full time ministry, the Master of Divinity is the best option for them,” Tucker said. “If, however, they are looking into ministry as a second career or hoping to serve in a field like journalism — for example, Christian journalism — [the master’s in Christian ministry] would be an option for them, as well.”
In addition to the Christian ministry degree, the regents approved a new joint Master of Social Work and Master of Business Administration degree program, intended to train students to be leaders in a social-work industry that is increasingly composed of private organizations, according to the press release.
University administrators also delivered the first report to the regents on the strategic plan since the first public draft was released in December. The discussion about the strategic plan was closed to the public, as was the discussion of the other business items.
Dr. Elizabeth Davis, executive vice president and provost, was not available for comment by Monday’s deadline.