By Bridget Sjoberg | Staff Writer
On Thursday, Baylor officially introduced its new Give Light campaign, a philanthropic effort that received donations of over $540 million in a “silent phase” (a time period where donations were being accepted before the campaign went public) and is ultimately working to meet a university goal of reaching $1.1 billion.
Give Light is part of Baylor’s recent academic strategic plan Illuminate, which seeks to accomplish goals like creating an “unambiguously Christian educational environment” and a “transformational undergraduate education,” among others.
Baylor President Dr. Linda Livingstone hopes Give Light and the larger Illuminate plan continue to impact campus life in a positive way and offer support for students and other members of the Baylor community.
“We look forward to the weekend ahead and continuing to work on illuminating the light as we make that academic strategic plan a reality,” Livingstone said. “The fundraising component of that is going to help support the initiatives that are a part of that campaign.”
A particularly notable contribution was made by Baylor alum and Oracle CEO Mark Hurd and his wife Paula. The donation will be used to create the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center, which will be a 50,000-60,000 square foot complex located on University Parks Drive.
“We’re really excited about the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center that will be at the entrance of campus, right at I35 and University Parks Drive,” Livingstone said. “It will dramatically change the front door into our campus off of the interstate and will be an appropriate entrance and welcome into our campus, which we do not currently have.”
Livingstone sees the new center as a spot that will be beneficial to the Baylor community, as well as to prospective students and their families.
“It’s intended to be a very dramatic and interactive experience that will be for our prospective students, for our alumni and for anyone coming to campus,” Livingstone said. “It will give them a place where they can very quickly know to get information, where to go to get the experience of what it is to be a part of Baylor and from there, to know where they can go elsewhere on campus to see and do the things they want to do.”
Livingstone also announced that renovations are planned in an effort to update Waco Hall.
“A primary decision of the board was a $2.5 million renovation of Waco Hall, which is really to do some things around ADA accessibility and some issues like that,” Livingstone said. “It’s not a complete overhaul of Waco Hall, but it’s a modernizing to make it a more comfortable place for people to be a part of.”
Frisco junior Cheyenne Atchison serves as a tour guide at Baylor and is particularly excited about the plans for a new visitor’s center.
“This new visitor’s center will be able to show prospective students and parents what they can expect from Baylor,” Atchison said. “From the minute they step on campus, they will gain not only a technologically advanced and interactive experience, but also feel the sense of community surrounding our campus.”
Atchison said she believes that the Hurd Welcome Center will benefit student workers and Baylor visitors alike, and she can’t wait to see the university’s vision for this space come alive.
“As a campus tour guide, I’m even more excited for the visitor’s center because as student workers, we spend a lot of time in the current visitor’s center, whether it be welcoming guests, answering phone calls or giving tours,” Atchison said. “The new Hurd Welcome Center will be even more welcoming for both tour guides and visitors, since it will have the physical capacity to serve all of our needs.”
Livingstone said she is grateful for contributions to the recent Give Light campaign and sees that donations will be used to benefit the Baylor campus and community.
“This is an extraordinary moment for our university, and I am grateful for a Baylor Family that cares deeply for our students and gives light to the mission we pursue every day,” Livingstone said in a recent email to the Baylor community.