By Lizzie Thomas | Staff Writer
The Board of Regents convened Thursday and Friday to discuss the progress of and to fully launch the university’s campaign, “Illuminate,” as well as to review Title IX progress from the Big 12 and the beginnings of a spiritual study.
“We’re proud to announce that we had raised in gifts and pledges from the silent phase of that campaign $540 million,” Baylor President Linda Livingstone said at a press conference Friday. “So that’s exciting because we’re almost halfway to that goal.”
Joel Allison, Chair of the Board of Regents, said the Board of Regents completely supports Livingstone’s vision.
“It’s been a wonderful two days of committee meetings and board meetings,” Allison said. “We really as a board have been blessed with Dr. Livingstone’s leadership.”
At the press conference, Allison gave an overview of the updates the Board had received and what progress they had reviewed.
“[We had] a great update from the Academic Affairs Committee on Illuminate and all the work that’s being done around its four pillars and its five initiatives. A wonderful, wonderful overview of the strategic plan that’s really moving forward and going in the right way,” Allison said.
Big 12 Penalty
The Big 12 fined Baylor over $2 million on Tuesday. Allison spoke for the Board of Regents on their reaction to the Big 12’s role.
“The resolution affirms that we had fully implemented the 105 recommendations and are in compliance with Title IX and that was a great step forward in moving us forward,” Allison said. “So we were very appreciative of that report. Now we want to keep moving forward … Because of some of the things that had happened, we kind of accepted that there would be a penalty.”
Facilities and scholarships
Illuminate is primarily an academic campaign, so the vast majority of $1.1 million in funds raised in the next four years will go right back to the student’s classroom experience.
“When you look at our four pillars and the five initiatives, there’s a lot of room and support for endowed scholarships and for looking at the facilities that will enhance student life and our faculty’s life and some of these as well as the strong endowment for scholarships,” Allison said. “I think that’s going to be the focus of what Dr. Livingstone wants to achieve.”
The funds will go toward scholarships, but also to expanding Baylor’s research capability and facilities.
“The 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.”
Longitudinal Study on Spiritual Development and Character Formation
Livingstone said the board thinks the study the university decided to conduct surveying students’ faith over their lifetime is going to help the board better understand what students want when they come to Baylor, as well as to what extent the experience students have in college continues to influence faith and character beyond college.
“No other university in the country is doing something quite like that [study] — that’s trying to understand the impact of the experience a student has on campus with regards to their spiritual development and faith formation and then how that continues to impact them after they leave our campus and on into the world,” Livingstone said.
Livingstone said she believes the study will not only help Baylor better serve its students but also help other colleges and universities better understand their students. The Board always hears from a student panel, which usually consists of the undergraduate student government president and the graduate student association president. This year, Livingstone said the board also heard from a panel that shared about their faith experiences at Baylor, representing three Christian traditions and the Muslim faith.
“It was wonderful to hear them talk about why they came to Baylor and the reasons that they came in terms of the faith component of our institution. They all came from different faith traditions. Them to hear them talk about the impact being at Baylor had had on them from a faith perspective was really valuable,” Livingstone said.