Baylor Regents Approve First Ph.D. in School of Engineering, Honor Drayton McLane as Regent Emeritus

February 12, 2010
News Photo 4854

(L to R) -- Dary Stone, chairman of the Baylor Board of Regents, congratulates Drayton M. McLane Jr. and his wife, Elizabeth, on McLane's designation as Baylor Regent Emeritus.

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HOUSTON - The Baylor University Board of Regents today approved a new research-oriented doctoral program - a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering - reflecting the university's commitment to the newly established Central Texas Technology and Research Park, and the park's first project, the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC).

In addition, Regents recognized former board chair Drayton McLane Jr., BBA '58, with the honorary and lifetime designation of Regent Emeritus. McLane, chairman of the McLane Group and CEO of the Houston Astros Baseball Club, was honored during a Thursday night dinner at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

The Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering is the first doctoral degree offered in Baylor's School of Engineering, which is ranked No. 12 among universities with the "Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs" by U.S.News & World Report. During the past decade, the School of Engineering at Baylor has added four master's degree programs and doubled the size of its faculty. The new doctoral program will provide a significant boost to the university's collaborative and interdisciplinary research base, as well as the level of externally generated research funding.

"The faculty, students and staff at Baylor's School of Engineering and Computer Science are engaged in learning and research initiatives at the highest levels and consistently reflect our Christian mission and commitment," said Dr. Benjamin S. Kelley, dean and professor of engineering at Baylor. "The School of Engineering and Computer Science will attain a new level of excellence as we expand our research agenda through the interdisciplinary BRIC and our first Ph.D. program. These efforts will help us to generate external grant funding and provide faculty access to talented graduate students and industry colleagues. As a result, Baylor University will play an increasingly significant role in the advancement of technological innovation around the globe."

The new Ph.D. program is being launched in tandem with the Central Texas Technology and Research Park, which was established in October to develop, promote and market science and engineering technologies, university research and advanced technology training and workforce development. The park will provide graduate research space for the School of Engineering and Computer Science and for select Baylor interdisciplinary research centers and institutes.

"Baylor's national and international influence as a research university is strongly tied to the success of our science and engineering faculty in developing dynamic research and graduate programs," said Baylor Interim President David E. Garland. "Engineering is essential in the development of Baylor's emergent research infrastructure, which includes the research park and the BRIC. This Ph.D. in engineering is a major step forward in furthering Baylor's aspirations to be a leading research institution."

Although the degree will focus on areas related to the electrical engineering and computer engineering disciplines, it also provides the possibility of strong collaboration with Baylor faculty members in mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, computer science, mathematics, statistics and the physical sciences.

McLane Honored as Regent Emeritus

On Thursday night, Baylor Regents honored Drayton McLane Jr. with the rare designation of Regent Emeritus, "In recognition of a quarter century of distinguished service that has consistently reflected visionary leadership, Christian commitment, personal integrity and a profound and active love in support of his alma mater, Baylor University," said R. Dary Stone, JD '77, chairman of the Board of Regents.

"Drayton McLane is a wonderfully generous alumnus who has been remarkably consistent in his support of Baylor University. A tremendously successful and accomplished business person, he has demonstrated again and again effective leadership, personal integrity and an impeccable work ethic in service to Baylor , impacting positively virtually every aspect of university life," Stone said.

McLane served as a Baylor Trustee and Regent from 1988 to 2006. He served as chairman of the board from 2002-04. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have supported numerous student scholarship funds, academic programs and capital projects at Baylor, including the McLane Student Life Center, which was named in his family's honor in 1999. Stone lauded McLane for his "unwavering and bold commitment," especially to his responsibilities on the Baylor board.

"During his tenure as chairman, the Baylor University Board of Regents successfully strengthened the institution's endowment, assisted with the revitalization of Baylor's Athletics program, and expanded and beautified our campus," Stone said. Under McLane's leadership, the university completed facilities such as the Baylor Sciences Building, the Harry and Anna Jeanes Discovery Center within the Sue and Frank Mayborn Natural Science and Cultural History Museum Complex and the North Village Residential Community, enhancing Baylor's rigorous academic community and strengthening residential life.
"This recognition is a great honor. I am a proud graduate of Baylor University, along with my sons and many members of our family," McLane said in accepting his award. "I was on the Baylor Board of Regents for 18 years and was the chairman of the board for two years. The days and years ahead have great potential, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of Baylor's continued success."
In its history, Baylor University has only bestowed upon eight other distinguished individuals the honorary and lifetime title of Regent Emeritus.

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275