By Ava Dunwoody | Staff Writer
Baylor University has earned three new accomplishments with the start of the 2020-2021 school year, including record enrollment numbers, ranking number 76 among National Universities and being named a 2020 Great College to Work For.
Despite the irregular academic adaptations due to COVID-19, Baylor’s 2020 freshman class is the largest the university has ever seen. In a press release by the university, President Linda Livingstone attributed this to a “team effort” by Baylor faculty and staff in executing Baylor’s mission statement.
“Even in the face of many unknowns and uncertainties due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tremendous interest in a Baylor University education from prospective students and their families as well as from our continuing students never wavered,” Livingstone said in the press release. “This is a true testament to the incredible efforts of hundreds of staff and faculty at Baylor.”
The retention rate of undergraduate students has also increased, reaching a new record of 92.5%. Diversity enrollment is at an all time high, with minority students at 37.9% and out-of-state students at 38% of the total student body.
Dr. Corina Kaul, Baylor graduate and full-time lecturer of curriculum and instruction at the School of Education, said that she knows what it’s like to be both a student and an employee at Baylor. She said that seeing how much work faculty members have put into preparing for COVID-19 is an example of why Baylor deserves these awards.
“Baylor does an amazing job of taking care of its students, and I especially see that with COVID,” Kaul said. “It’s a joy for me to be under the leadership of Baylor and still teaching under COVID, which has turned everything upside down.”
To mark Baylor’s second accomplishment, the 2021 U.S. News & World Report rankings has bumped Baylor up three places into #76 among National Universities. This year, slot #76 was a four-way tie between American University, Indiana University Bloomington, Yeshiva University and Baylor.
Other U.S. News rankings were outlined in a press release by the university, including the ninth year of Baylor ranking second in the Big 12 and in the top five Texas universities. Baylor also ranked 8th in Best Undergraduate Entrepreneurship Programs and 19th in First Year Experiences.
Baylor is classified in the National University category of the U.S. News & World Report based on its “full range of undergraduate majors, plus master’s and doctoral programs,” and its commitment to “producing groundbreaking research” with graduates and undergraduates alike.
“Even in the face of COVID-19 and its considerable impact on higher education, Baylor University’s distinct and compelling academic mission while pursuing Tier 1/Research 1 status as the preeminent Christian university remains undeterred,” Livingstone said in the press release.
In its third accomplishment, Baylor achieved its ninth elite Honor Roll status as a 2020 Great College to Work For. The Great Colleges to Work For program surveys 221 schools and gives 42 this title based on institutional data and employee surveys.
Kaul said she believes Baylor “absolutely deserves” this recognition because of how she is treated as a faculty member, both regarding community and benefits.
“Baylor does a great job caring for people,” Kaul said. “They put so much effort into really thinking about what people might need, and that’s amazing. The amount of training that is available to us so that we can continually improve is phenomenal.”
Kaul said that over the summer, professors had iDesign training options to help adapt to virtual education. She also mentioned the Academy for Teaching and Learning and the Institute for Faith and Learning as resources provided to staff.
“If your staff and faculty aren’t happy, then that is going to carry over into the classroom,” Kaul said. “So it’s so important to make your staff and faculty appreciated so they are full and can share that fullness and appreciation with their students to create a more nurturing and family-like atmosphere.”
Other benefits that contributed to the recognition were listed in a press release and included insurances, tuition remission, revised paid leave, free admission to events, wellness programs and more.
“We are like a family,” Kaul said. “We rejoice together when any aspect of our college is shining, so the aspect that there are all these [accomplishments] is exciting. Our family wants to stay together and continue to grow and spread the light of the Lord and of Baylor throughout our community, our state and our world.”