Give Light plans for student, university growth

A student sharing her light in one of the many signs placed across campus to further the 'Give Light' campaign. Kristen DeHaven | Multimedia Journalist

By Emily Lohec | Staff Writer

As the summer begins to wind down, Baylor’s Give Light campaign is doing anything but that. An anonymous donor granted Baylor a $100 million donation last May, allowing for campus improvements and advancements.

David Rosselli, vice president of advancement, believes the Give Light campaign holds the key to what will propel the future of Baylor forward. He explained the campaign as a set of three prioritized plans that touch on different areas that need improvement within the university.

“It really is the first time in university history we have aligned an academic plan, facility comprehensive plan and strategic plan all at the same time, all focused in the same way,” Rosselli said.

Rosselli shared how general awareness of the university-wide campaign will steer student, faculty and alumni contributions towards various improvements they want to see on campus.

“A big part of the campaign—more than one-third of the campaign—is focused on endowments because that is a top priority and has been for some time. Our current endowment is about $1.3 billion and we really, by all measure, should be closer to the $2 billion mark,” Rosselli said.

Combining both previous and continued gifts being made, Rosselli believes the university will not only meet the set goal, but exceed the expectations by $7 million, which will allow for more improvements to be made in various areas of the three plans.

“$500 million of this $1.1 billion campaign is focused on endowment and the endowment is made of many different facets—it could be scholarship, it could be for professorship to bring in top level faculty, it could be for an academic chair—a higher level faculty position that focuses on research—to bring them to our campus,” Rosselli said.

Within the Give Light campaign, there is a program called Illuminate, an initiative that plans to bring in top-level professors to assist students in their research.

Baylor provost Dr. Nancy Brickhouse believes the Illuminate program will set the stage for all students to dive deeper into research.

“One of the first things you are going to see is more opportunity for students to engage in research themselves, both at the graduate and the undergraduate level,” Brickhouse said. “Our goal is to keep the undergraduate size as it is, but the Illuminate initiatives will enable those undergraduates to have better access to a variety of different kinds of research they can collaborate with faculty on.”

Brickhouse eluded to the fact that as these improvements take place, there will be growth for students wanting to begin research of their own.

“I think that it’s going to give them the opportunity to engage in research at a level that is greater than it has been in the past. You are going to see more broadly available opportunities with deeper engagement,” Brickhouse said.

Academic improvements will not only affect students and professors, but will lead to upgrades for various buildings on campus as well.

Dr. Lee Nordt, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, explained what the future revamp for Tidwell Bible Building will look like.

“The renovation is important for several academic reasons. Because there is no available space to accommodate all of their current needs, it will create more faculty and student office space and concentrate faculty more closely together by department,” Nordt said.

There is a prayer room incorporated into the blueprints that will be an extra added quiet space on campus for those who choose to visit.

“The plans are to retain the stained-glass windows and create a smaller Miller prayer room. The prayer room, possibly on the top floor with a view of the campus, will be available to students and faculty alike,” Nordt said.

The Give Light campaign is designed to inspire all who currently attend Baylor, as well as members of the alumni and Waco communities, to get involved and be a part of the investment for Baylor’s future.

“Every dollar counts for this campaign and it’s important that we have 100% participation. Whatever the size of the gift—that doesn’t matter—it’s the participation that does,” Rosselli said.

The Give Light campaign was included as part of the strategic academic plan president Dr. Linda Livingstone put into action.

“This is an important moment in Baylor’s history as we make strategic investments throughout our academic enterprise and across the campus, and everyone is serving an important role as we shape our future,” Livingstone said in a statement.