The idea of “investment” is generally to turn something into more, according to Baylor University’s chief investment officer, David Morehead, who is certainly an expert on investing after decades of senior-level experience at large financial institutions. Morehead and his wife, Sara, also consider “investment potential” when they choose targets for their charitable giving. That strategy — along with an appreciation for the value of education and educators — led the Moreheads to make an investment in Baylor School of Education’s MA in School Leadership program through scholarship donations.
“We absolutely see scholarship support of Christian leadership as a strategic investment,” David Morehead said. “We read the parable of the talents in Scripture, where the good servants were lauded for using their gifts to provide an ‘investment’ on the money entrusted to them. Because we view giving through the lens of faith, we want to tie our interests in students and education to our faith. What better way to do that than providing scholarship access to a program at Baylor that is unapologetically focused on developing people of faith who will use their gifts and talents in an educational setting!”
Baylor’s MA in School Leadership launched in 2021 as a hybrid program offering preparation for emerging school leaders in both public and independent school settings. The program consists of on-campus intensives in summer and January, virtual coursework during the academic year, an internship, and capstone research. Cohort One, with 27 students, boasted a 100 percent retention rate from 2021 to 2022, and the first graduates are anticipated in December. Cohort Two began in June 2022 with a two-week on-campus intensive.
The Moreheads’ gift funded scholarships for four MA students last year and 14 students this year, with scholarships ranging from $5,000 – $10,000. Scholarship recipients also help with recruitment, professional learning facilitation, mentoring, writing feedback, research, and original writing, said Dr. Jon Eckert, the Lynda and Robert Copple Endowed Chair for Christians in School Leadership and director of the master’s program, which is in the Department of Educational Leadership.
“The investment of the Moreheads has been amazing for catalyzing our work,” Eckert said. Eckert noted that an investment in educators goes a long way. “A teacher influences between 20 and 200 students every day, and administrators multiply that impact by supporting those educators in meeting the needs of hundreds and thousands of students in any given school,” he said.
The Moreheads are well aware of this amplification of influence and were especially interested in supporting educators in leadership roles.
“This program — and specifically assisting graduate students in accessing the training necessary to take their leadership abilities to the next level — really spoke to us,” Morehead said. “We all know that leadership is critical to the functioning of organizations and particularly so for those organizations that are predicated on personal interaction and relationships.”
The Moreheads also have strong ties to education communities. “Both of our moms are former teachers, and Sara taught fifth, third, and first grades,” he noted.
Beyond that, Morehead said, they believe that “most life-changing moments occur through relationships,” making the role of teacher highly influential in the lives of many students each year. “Likewise, principals and superintendents set the tone and culture for tens or hundreds of teachers in their organizations,” he said. “Schools are one of the few structures in society where relationships can lead to positive growth and development on a significant scale. We want to be part of improving society in as significant fashion as possible and believe such is available through developing and encouraging Christian leadership at all levels and types of educational institutions.”
The Moreheads grew up, married, and started a family in Wheaton, Illinois, before moving to the Waco area more than eleven years ago when David took on his role at Baylor. Sara is a fitness and yoga instructor in Waco, and the couple has four children — two in college and two in high school. Before coming to Baylor, David held several different leadership roles in professional money management firms in the Chicago area. The family saw their move to Baylor as a way to put this experience to work to benefit college students.
“Being at a Christian institution of higher learning has been a blessing, as it enables us to freely relate to students from a faith perspective that defines who we are,” Morehead said. Morehead enjoys the service component of his role at Baylor, noting that the difference — as opposed to his previous for-profit roles — is that his Baylor position is about “making something available to those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to access a college education.”
The Moreheads see their support of the MA in School Leadership as an extension of their service to Baylor and its mission.
“The mission of Baylor University is to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community,” Morehead pointed out. “Providing a graduate program that does exactly this in educational institutions around the country could not be more compatible with Baylor’s mission.”
MA director Eckert noted, “For educators, cost is the biggest barrier to an advanced degree from Baylor, and the Moreheads’ gift has been strategic in attracting and retaining some of the most promising education leaders in the U.S. to Baylor. We could not do the work we are doing without partners like Sara and Dave.”
Eckert said he hopes other potential donors will follow the investment example of an expert such as Morehead.
“Support of educational leaders, particularly those trained at Baylor University, is a vital and important place to invest,” Eckert said.
Baylor’s School of Education celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2019. With more than 60 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. The school boasts a variety of academic program options across its three departments: Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership, and Educational Psychology. Baylor’s award-winning undergraduate program in teacher education serves approximately 400 students and has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers with extensive clinical preparation.
More than 700 graduate students pursue advanced study and professional preparation in master’s, Ed.S., Ed.D., and Ph.D. programs. With exciting new academic initiatives both at home and abroad, the school is in a period of significant expansion and is poised for greater impact through the production of meaningful, high-quality research and the preparation of outstanding leaders, teachers, and clinicians. Visit www.baylor.edu/SOE to learn more.
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.