Baylor talks R1, ChatGPT, facility updates in spring faculty meeting

Baylor University prides itself on being an R1 institution, a designation it received in December 2021. Photo courtesy of Shelby Peck | Staff Writer

By Shelby Peck | Staff Writer

Baylor held its 2023 spring faculty meeting Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Zoom, providing an update on campus renovations throughout campus and addressing major topics like the success of the Illuminate campaign, research efforts and warning faculty about the use of artificial intelligence in the classroom.

President’s Report

The meeting commenced with an address from President Linda Livingstone, who reflected on her inaugural address and continued hope in Baylor and its mission.

“I believe even more today how important it is that we have a university like Baylor in the broad and diverse landscape of higher education,” Livingstone said. “We’ve been really privileged to be successful at making tremendous progress on this vision.”

Livingstone also said the dedicated work of faculty and staff has built its national and international reputation and allowed the university’s special perspective as a Christian research institution to be shared.

Not only has Baylor strengthened its reputation as a prominent member of well-known organizations such as the NCAA, the Big 12 Conference and the American Council of Education, but Livingstone said its recently earned “Research 1” status from the Carnegie Classifications of Institutions for Higher Education has given the university much more credibility and opportunity.

Facility updates

Livingstone provided several updates for ongoing campus projects, including an invitation for all to attend the dedication of the Rev. Robert Gilbert and Barbara Walker statues at 1:30 p.m. on April 4 at Tidwell Bible Building.

“We are just thrilled with this. We think this is going to reflect really in a beautiful way some of our history that we haven’t told as fully as we need to,” Livingstone said.

Livingstone also said she is excited about the renovations and continued progress of several other campus enterprises such as the recently-announced Monument to Unnamed Enslaved, work on the Fudge Football Development Center and renovations to Collins Residence Hall.

“We will also reopen Collins Residence Hall in August as students come back. This is going to be a dramatic facelift for an iconic resident hall on our campus,” Livingstone said.

Faculty Positions

Provost Nancy Brickhouse discussed the status of the searches for positions across multiple disciplines, including deans for the schools of music and law. She highlighted Daniel Pack, who was recently appointed dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science, and Patricia Wilson, the current associate dean who will serve as interim dean for the law school.

Illuminate innovations

Brickhouse mentioned achievements the university has obtained through the Illuminate campaign, which according to Baylor’s website, contributed substantially to gaining R1 status and fundraising through the Give Light campaign.

Brickhouse also mentioned Baylor was the only university to receive the Marshall Scholarship, the Fulbright Award and the Churchill Scholarship in 2022. She also highlighted other academic programs that received momentum this year, including the Material Sciences Initiative and Baylor in Latin America.

Baylor faculty meeting discussed new signature academic initiatives for the spring semester. Photo courtesy of Shelby Peck.
The Baylor spring faculty meeting discussed the new signature academic initiatives in the Illuminate campaign for the semester. Photo courtesy of Shelby Peck | Staff Writer

As part of Baylor’s dedication to academic success, Brickhouse said the percentage of students who graduated in four years increased with the class of 2022, as well as the number of students who returned to the university.

“We’ve learned a lot about the challenges [students who did not re-enroll] were facing, and we’ve personalized that approach so we could provide them with the exact sort of support that they needed in order to continue at Baylor,” Brickhouse said.


The meeting concluded with a general introduction of newly-formed artificial intelligence, such as ChatGPT, and its influence in the classroom. Faculty and staff were shown demonstrations of essays written through AI and were reminded the Baylor Honor Code applies to any work not completed by the student themselves, even if it is formulated online.

“There’s still a lot to learn about ChatGPT, so I encourage you to get a subscription and get on there and you’ll learn for yourself the good, the bad and the ugly,” Dr. Lenore Wright, director of the Academy for Teaching and Learning, said.

Wright said while AI can be beneficial to instructors to generate tests and lesson plans, it lacks the critical thinking and reasoning skills present in the human brain. She said she encourages professors to create new assignments that engage students in ways AI is unable.

“Rather than ask students to simply produce information and factual content, think of other assignments that tie to personal elements… ChatGPT can’t do that piece,” Wright said.