President Livingstone Updates Baylor Regents on Successful Accreditation Visit, Academic Strategic Planning; Announces Organizational Changes

October 20, 2017

Board approves land purchase, celebrates Meritorious Achievement Award recipients, receives historic Judge Baylor documents

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WACO, Texas (Oct. 20, 2017) – During its annual Homecoming meeting, the Baylor University Board of Regents heard updates from Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone on the University’s recent successful accreditation visit, academic strategic planning process and new organizational changes, and celebrated the recipients of the 2017 Baylor Meritorious Achievement Awards.

Baylor received an on-site visit by a special committee from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) Oct. 2-4 in response to a warning sanction by the University’s accrediting body in December 2016, resulting from past issues related to sexual violence within the campus community. The SACSCOC special committee conducted a thorough review of student services, athletics and the overall institutional environment and found Baylor to be compliant in all three areas. Additionally, the review committee verified that all 105 recommendations the University undertook in response to past incidents of sexual violence within its campus community have been implemented.

The findings of this visiting committee represent a preliminary assessment of the institution at this time. Final action on the report rests with the Commission on Colleges. The report of the committee that visited Baylor will be reviewed the first week of December as part of the SACSCOC annual meeting.

“We are certainly pleased with the findings of this special committee, as they confirm the significant actions Baylor has taken in response to the issue of sexual violence and the transformation that has occurred on our campus in a short time,” said Dr. Livingstone, who noted Baylor remains fully accredited by SACSCOC. “We look forward to the Commission’s final decision regarding the warning sanction and stand ready to share our experiences, policies and practices with other institutions as we all work together to end the scourge of sexual violence.”

Dr. Livingstone updated the Board on her “Strong-Secure-Strategic” objectives for this year, which focus on:

  • STRONG: Building University leadership capacity in support of Baylor’s mission and strategic direction;
  • SECURE: Enhancing the University’s financial and operational security, as well as overall climate and well-being; and
  • STRATEGIC: Creating an action plan that positions the University for “Tier One” status in advancing Baylor’s strategic vision Pro Futuris.

The President’s update included Interim Provost Michael K. McLendon’s status report on the University’s academic strategic planning process, which began with a review over the summer followed by the robust engagement of deans and department chairs over the fall semester.

On Wednesday night, the Board hosted a dinner with Dr. Livingstone, the Executive Council and the deans of Baylor’s 12 colleges and schools to foster further discussion about the strategic planning process and the University’s aspirations to become a preeminent Christian research university.

“We have a renewed sense of optimism for Baylor as we move forward, especially at this time when we welcome our alumni and friends back to campus for Homecoming,” Dr. Livingstone said. “This meeting reflected an intentional effort to increase engagement and strategic conversation among the Board. We want to ensure we are best utilizing the knowledge and expertise of our Regents and engaging them for strategic guidance. They have reaffirmed their complete support for our strategic planning process and aspirations to become a top Christian research university that is focused on impact for our students, faculty and research.”

Dr. Livingstone also introduced Kristy J. Orr, a 2003 Baylor Law School graduate, as the University’s new Board Professional. This key position emanates from the recommendations of the Governance Review Task Force, which were adopted by the Board in February.

In this new role, Orr will provide advice, guidance and support to the President and the Board to facilitate communication in a manner that enhances effective Board operations, governance and relationships among the Regents, senior administration and other constituencies of the University. Orr comes to Baylor from the University of Texas System, where she served as senior associate general counsel to the Board, working with the Board of Regents on legal, informational and policy matters.

As Dr. Livingstone continues to build a strong, cohesive leadership team, she announced several organizational changes:

  • The President’s Executive Council, consisting of University administrative leadership, has been reorganized in size and scope as the President’s Council.
  • Dr. Livingstone established a University Council, which consists of the President’s Council, deans and vice provosts, giving Baylor’s academic leadership a greater role in University administration.
  • Gary R. Carini, Ph.D., has been appointed vice provost for graduate professional education. In this new role, Dr. Carini will develop strategies to expand the University’s high-quality graduate professional education.
  • The areas of Development and Constituent Engagement have been integrated into the Office of Advancement, which now includes the Division of Alumni Engagement and Division of Development.
  • The Division of Marketing and Communications has created an Office of External Affairs, which includes University-level Informed Engagement and Community Relations functions and institutional events.

Dr. Livingstone also announced that searches will begin soon for a permanent provost and a chief business officer.

“We are very pleased with how Dr. Livingstone has hit the ground running, making changes to her executive team to align with the University’s strategic direction and initiating a comprehensive academic strategic planning process, which the Board fully supports and is excited about,” said Joel T. Allison, B.A. ’70, chair of the Board of Regents. “Dr. Livingstone has been well-received by the Baylor Family and is working diligently to unify all who love Baylor around a shared future for the University.”

In other business, the Board approved the purchase of 103 acres behind the Willis Family Equestrian Center, south of La Salle Avenue on S. University Parks Drive. The Board also approved $1.2 million to relocate IT and utility lines in anticipation of the Interstate 35 widening project. The expenditure will be funded through prior construction easements received from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).

“The Board expressed a strong spirit of collegiality and a strategic focus of moving Baylor forward,” Allison said. “We had great dialogue and participation within our expanded committees, which means more representation and greater visibility of issues for all Board members. We understand that restoring trust takes time, but we have tremendous new leadership in place with President Livingstone, and I believe we have a bright future ahead for the University.”

Presentation of Judge R.E.B. Baylor historic documents

On Friday morning, the Board was presented with historic 19th-century documents that belonged to Baylor’s namesake and co-founder Judge R.E.B. Baylor. Brazos County District Clerk Marc Hamlin oversaw the preservation of the documents after they had been found deteriorating in courthouse storage.

Judge Baylor served as the first judge in the Third District of the Republic of Texas, and his books of law documents contains civil and criminal proceedings, documentation of the first grand jury in Brazos County and allegations against elected officials of that era.

“For me to sit there in the presence of that book and to know that this man traveled by horseback and wrote with a quill by candlelight really took me back in time,” Hamlin said.

The Hon. Jennifer Elrod, judge of the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and a member of the Baylor Board of Regents, and The Hon. Mark Davidson, retired judge of the 11th District Court in Harris County, were instrumental in helping Hamlin access funding to preserve the documents.

In 1841, 35 delegates to the Union Baptist Association meeting accepted the suggestion of Judge Baylor and the Rev. William Milton Tryon to establish a Baptist university in Texas. The Texas Baptist Education Society then petitioned the Congress of the Republic of Texas to charter a Baptist university in the fall of 1844. Republic President Anson Jones signed the Act of Congress on Feb. 1, 1845, officially establishing Baylor University.

Board celebrates Meritorious Achievement Awards recipients

On Thursday night, Regents and special guests recognized the recipients of the 2017 Baylor Meritorious Achievement Awards at a dinner in the Cashion Academic Center.

“It is our privilege to recognize the humble service and visionary leadership of a number of our alumni and friends who truly represent what is best about Baylor,” Allison said. “These remarkable Baylor Bears take to heart the mission of this University, translating it in powerful and inspirational ways in their lives, families and careers. We are honored to celebrate their great accomplishments.”

The 2017 Baylor Meritorious Achievement Awards recipients are:

Bill, B.B.A. ’71 and Pat Carlton, B.A. ’71, of Little Rock, Arkansas, Alumni of the Year - Awarded to graduates who have demonstrated remarkable achievement in the previous year, contributing to the prestige and betterment of Baylor University

Aaron Graft, B.A. ’00, J.D. ’03, of Dallas, Young Alumnus of the Year - Awarded to a graduate age 40 or under who has demonstrated remarkable achievement in the previous year

Kurt Kaiser, of Waco, Pro Ecclesia Medal of Service - Awarded to individuals whose broad contributions to Christian ministry have made an immeasurable impact

Justice Don R. Willett, B.B.A. ’88, of Austin, Pro Texana Medal of Service - Awarded to an individual whose contributions in furthering the mission of Baylor have made an immeasurable impact in the public or nonprofit sector

David E. Garland, Ph.D., of Waco, Distinguished Achievement Award - Bestowed on Baylor graduates who have made a distinct contribution to their particular profession, business or vocation and in doing so have brought honor to Baylor

Mark Adickes, B.A. ’84, of Houston, Medal of Service for Contributions to Medicine - Awarded to individuals for dedication to advancing their chosen fields and making significant impacts in our world

Barbara Walker, B.S. ’67, of Phoenix, Arizona, Medal of Service for Contributions to Christian Ministry - Awarded to individuals for dedication to advancing their chosen fields and making significant impact in our world

Preston Dyer, B.A. ’60 , of Waco, W.R. White Meritorious Service Award - Presented in recognition of outstanding service to Baylor and continued loyalty to the University

Ron Jones, of Spicewood, and John, B.A. ’53, and L'Nell Starkey, B.A. ’53, of Victoria, Baylor Legacy - Awarded to individuals who demonstrate extraordinary service and philanthropy to Baylor or to causes that fit our mission as a Christian university

Don and Ruth Buchholz, B.A. ’49, of Dallas, Baylor Founders Medal - Reserved for men and women whose service and contributions have been unusually significant to the life and future of Baylor


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 17,000 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 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.