As we kick off Give Light, our University fundraising campaign, at Homecoming this year, there is a sense of excitement in the air at Baylor as to what our future could be. The campaign is closely aligned with our new academic strategic plan, Illuminate, and is an outgrowth of Pro Futuris, our strategic vision.
Achieving the goals of Illuminate will require a considerable infusion of new revenue streams to the University. As Baylor’s rate of tuition increase continues to decline, we will have to rely more on non-tuition revenues –– those generated from current operational and strategic budgets, from professional graduate programs, from external grants and, perhaps most importantly, from fundraising to support the research growth described in Illuminate. Raising a billion dollars, which is at first sight a staggering sum, is actually the minimum needed to launch the research enterprise and support the four pillars of Illuminate: A Christian educational environment; transformational undergraduate education; research and scholarship; and nationally recognized programs in human performance through the arts and athletics.
The first pillar, our Christian educational environment as expressed in the mission, manifests itself through the faculty, in the classroom and curriculum, by research programs, in our Chaplain’s office, through aspects of student life, and in multiple centers and institutes around campus. The second pillar, transformational undergraduate education, requires excellent faculty in the traditional classroom setting but also those faculty members who provide engaged learning opportunities outside of the classroom (see the Spring 2018 issue of this magazine for more on this). Engaged learning has traditionally been a strength of ours upon which we will build.
The third pillar is research and scholarship, which is the area that will require the greatest investment in human capital and infrastructure to become a Tier 1 Research (R1) institution. (See my companion essay to learn more about why research is so important to Baylor). Human performance, the fourth and final pillar, includes the arts and humanities and is in many ways the heart and soul of what we do, as practiced through our lens of faith.
Regarding the need for more resources at Baylor, we have an excellent track record of fundraising for endowed student scholarships, as we should, because the cost of providing a top-tier undergraduate education in a private institution is high. However, to meet the needs of a burgeoning undergraduate student population and a rapidly growing graduate student body, as well as to meet our research goals, we will require many more faculty, more technical support staff, more basic infrastructure and more facilities.
Whereas we will always need faculty at the entry level (including lecturers), it’s essential to recruit mid- and senior career faculty from other institutions to join our pursuit of becoming a faith-based R1 institution. It will be much easier to attract these new faculty by having the resources available to provide them with endowed chairs and endowed professorships. These faculty members will then provide leadership to help us implement the five signature academic initiatives in Illuminate: Health; Materials Sciences; Data Sciences; Baylor in Latin America; and Human Flourishing and Ethics.
Facilities and infrastructure are other important and expensive components of the research enterprise. There are plans for a new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) research spaces to accommodate primarily interdisciplinary research. In addition, the Tidwell Bible Building, which houses the religion and history departments, will be renovated.
The Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Center, which houses the Departments of Theatre Arts and Art and Art History, as well as the Martin Museum of Art and Allbritton Institute, must be renovated soon. It’s also important that we improve our technology infrastructure, add administrative and technical staff and post docs and research assistants to support graduate and undergraduate research opportunities for our students. All this comes at a cost, but it’s a cost well worth it in the end if we achieve R1 status among the most elite institutions in the country.
Upon achieving these research goals, Baylor will be in a position to help resolve some of our nation’s greatest challenges, because as an R1 institution we will have a seat at the national table for important conversations of the day as we speak from a faith-based perspective.
This article was published in the Fall 2018 issue of Baylor Arts & Sciences magazine, which is available in full here