Five bright Starrs in Baylor’s future

By Amando Dominick
Staff Writer

A new university vision promises to be the next stepping stone in Baylor’s path to the future.

Pro Futuris, meaning ‘for the future,’ is the name of Baylor’s newest strategic vision, created to guide the university’s path in the coming years, Adopted unanimously by the Baylor Board of Regents on May 11, this vision expands Baylor’s previous long-term plan, Baylor 2012, the university’s strategic vision for a decade-long series of improvements. It began on June 1, and Pro Futuris will be in effect for the next decade.

In a May 11 press release, Elizabeth Davis, executive Vice President and Provost, said Pro Futuris will help to clarify the goals of the University.

“Baylor 2012 said ‘what we were going to do,’ whereas Pro Futuris says ‘why we are doing what we need to do,’” David said.

Davis added that Pro Futuris will function “as a compass for our future.”
Pro Futuris is constructed around five goals: Transformational Education, Compelling Scholarship, Informed Engagement, Committed Constituents and Judicious Stewardship.

These five areas of improvements seek to create opportunites for students, such as an increase in openings for students to engage in research with faculty, more available service work and better scholarships for students to meet the university’s rising costs.

Judicious Stewardship, the fifth aspirational element, includes plans to assist students financially by methods such as discovering new sources of revenue and “increas[ing] the degree to which the cost of a Baylor education is met by scholarships.”

Despite Baylor’s goal to assist students to finance their education, the Board of Regents recently approved a $1,866, or 6.5 percent increase, in undergraduate tuition. Increases were seen in the general student fee, the costs of room and board, and tuition.

“The very fact that we included a fifth aspirational statement says that it is very important,” Davis said. “The value of a Baylor education can be supported through diversity of revenue stream.”
Included in the first aspirational statement is the goal “to approach the profile of Carnegie’s research universites with very high research activity,” by producing more Ph.D.s according to the Baylor website. Baylor is currently classified as a research university with high research activity.

A Carnegie-classified research university with very high research activity is defined by the Carnegie website as an “[institution] that awarded at least 20 research doctoral degrees during the update year.”
Students will also see an increased emphasis on health-related professional programs, increased research programs and activities to reflect this goal.
The new strategic vision is already changing how the administration plans on handling future projects: with more input.

Davis said, “Pro Futuris was created from the bottom up using input from faculty and staff, and future projects will be made the same way.”
Student Body President Kelly Rapp said the new plan is an excellent way for Baylor “to establish who we are and our identity for the next ten or so years.”
Pro Futuris is an extension of Baylor’s motto “Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana,” which translates to “For the Church, For Texas.”

Despite the new emphasis on research, however, Baylor will not forget its roots as a Christian University.
Mitchell Neubert, an associate professor of management who chaired several meetings during Pro Futuris’ input phase, identified this tension as a concern. As a church-related institution, Baylor seeks faculty and staff who “will support the goals of the institution,” according to the Baylor website.

Though some worry this will lead to the exclusion of top-notch faculty who fall outside the category of the Judeo-Christian faith tradition, Neubert said during the two-year-long input-gathering process, many expressed a desire for Baylor to maintain its Christianity above all else.

Neubert said, “It is too important to sacrifice our faith distinctives over rankings,” Neubert said. He added Baylor won’t“lower their standards to tailor a candidate who fits the faith mission of the school, but cannot perform their job.”

Neubert said he believes the university is important because Baylor won’t compromise either academics or faith.
“Baylor has a special voice, and our contributions will be special too,” he said,
We’re at a spot we’ve never been before,” Rapp said. Remembering the past, Baylor will sail boldly into the future, with Pro Futuris as the navigator.