By: Emma King, Staff Writer
A number of alumni returned to Baylor this past weekend to celebrate the oldest college homecoming and make important decisions regarding the campus’ future.
The Baylor Board of Regents announced plans for the Louise Herrington School of Nursing to return to its former status as an independent school, the creation of a new golf practice facility closer to campus and and it heard a report on student safety and security.
The board also recognized recipients of the Baylor Meritorious Achievement Awards and listened to Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr report on a new project from the Institute of Faith and Learning.
Baylor’s Louise Herrington School of Nursing moved to being an independent school. The change in the nursing school’s status was aimed at benefiting faculty.
“The school of nursing has been a school of nursing for over 100 years,” said Dr. Edwin Trevathan, Baylor’s executive vice president and provost. “For almost all of that period the school of nursing has functioned as an independent school.
However, the school was included in the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences about a year ago, Trevathan said. This allowed faculty and students from the nursing school to collaborate more easily with faculty and students from the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, but it meant that the dean of the nursing school had to report to the dean of the the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences.
Now, the dean of the nursing school will report straight to the executive vice president and provost.
“Our school of nursing is one of the top schools of nursing in the state of Texas, and becoming one of the best in the nation, and one of the issues that the faculty brought up is that the top schools in the country are organizationally structured to that the dean reports to the provost,” Trevathan said. “It didn’t help them in terms of reputation for their dean to report to another dean.”
Trevathan said the conclusion that the nursing school should be its own school again was made by the faculty and the deans of the college. He said a study will be done this year to best determine how collaboration and joint research can be encouraged and achieved between the school or nursing and the university.
Trevathan also said that he does not think anything will be changing for the students, it just changes how the faculty report to one another.
The report given to the Board of Regents about campus safety and security included changes for both students and faculty.
“What we reported on was the progress that we’ve made the last several years to make sure that we have the safest environment that we can for students, faculty and staff, both on campus and off,” said Dr. Reagan Ramsower, senior vice president for operations and chief financial officer.
He spoke to the board about strengthened response protocols and relationships with the Waco Police Department, the uniting of campus safety offices under one organizational public safety unit, the work that the Title IX office is doing, continued development of a senior ethics officer position and an ongoing external review that Baylor is having done by Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton LLP, which is expected to include recommendations about the university’s response to interpersonal violence.
Ramsower said that the board was very enthusiastic about the progress Baylor is making and emphasizes using the resources available to keep students safe.
“The board is extremely interested, [safety is] their top priority, and they’ve made that very clear,” Ramsower said.
In addition to recognizing efforts to improve campus safety, the board also recognized specific alumni during their homecoming festivities and meetings.
There were 18 Meritorious Achievement Award Winners, chosen by the Board of Regents in collaboration with the department of constituent engagement, from a list of nominations from Baylor Proud Media and Communications and deans.
“We get a lot of input from a lot of people on those awards,” said Tommye Lou Davis, vice president for constituent engagement and chief of staff to the president. “It’s a year long process, we’ve already started collecting names for possible recipients next year.”
The recipients are chosen based on significant contributions in a variety of areas which reflect Baylor’s mission of excellence, service and faith.
Starr also presented a project to the board from Dr. Darin Davis, director of the Institute of Faith and Learning, called “Faith Animating…Project,” which will aim at encouraging a deeper shared reflection on Baylor’s mission throughout the university community.
Starr said these efforts are essential if Baylor is to realize its unique place as a keystone institution of higher learning, according to a press release from Baylor Media Communications.
The new golf facility will be named after Baylor football alum Billy Williams, who gave a multimillion dollar gift to help finance this project. The facility will be located near the Willis Family Equestrian Center on University Parks Drive.
This project is aimed at benefiting Baylor’s nationally recognized men’s and women’s golf teams. The women finished second place in the national championship round last season.