By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer
Since Baylor’s Give Light funding campaign was announced in November 2019, the athletic programs have taken off with a vast amount of success and have received several major donations.
Give Light was exclusively introduced to a select portion of the Baylor community in May 2014 and was originally connected to the Pro Futuris strategic plan. Now, the campaign is public and lives alongside the new strategic plan, Illuminate. The plan, ushered in by university president Dr. Linda Livingstone after her first year in office, focuses on five academic areas and leans heavily on Give Light.
Tour guides have a unique opportunity to talk to future students, alumni and donors alike. According to the Woodlands, Texas junior Maris Ybarra, Baylor tour guide, the best way to reach more donors is to have successful athletics.
“I think one of the best recruiting tools for prospective students is a successful sports season,” Ybarra said. “[Donors] get excited about the advancing athletics programs as a whole and like to know that their donations are going towards things that will continue to attract more students.”
According to statistics from the Baylor website, the funding for the project has reached $783.1 million out of a goal of $1.1 billion, including funding for 463 endowed scholarships and 23 faculty positions from a total of 63,126 individual donors. The project also includes funding for the renovation of Tidwell Bible Building and the construction of the Baylor Basketball Pavilion, as well as the Mark & Paula Hurd Welcome Center.
The Give Light program came around at just the right time for the athletic department. The Ferrell Center is oversized for the crowds normally drawn by the two basketball squads, and the lack of locker room space leaves visiting volleyball teams without a proper place to stay. Baylor associate athletic director for capital projects and championships Henry Howard said they are now in the planning phase for the new building.
“[The regents] have approved a little over $8 million to start working on the design,” Howard said. “We’ll make sure that the athletic director, the coaching staffs, the equipment staffs, all provide input to make sure that the new pavilion has all the features that are needed.”
The success of the sports squads helps encourage alumni to remember the “good old days” and donate to help athletics stay at their level of production. Ybarra said that alumni are often nostalgic when they walk through McLane Stadium or pass the Ferrell Center, and having the No. 1 men’s basketball team certainly doesn’t hurt.
“Having our football team succeeding like they did last season and both of our basketball teams so highly ranked this year is really exciting to our fans and donors alike,”Ybarra said.