Board of Regents Celebrates Successful Year of Giving, Including Transformational $100 Million Gift

July 19, 2019
LHSON Academic Building

Baylor University's Louise Herrington School of Nursing Academic Building is adjacent to the LHSON's longtime campus in Dallas, Baylor University Medical Center and more than 150 professional nursing practice sites in Dallas-area communities. (Morty Ortega/Baylor University)

Regents welcomed seven new members at annual retreat; heard President’s Report on Illuminate, discussed legislative and higher education issues, and conducted annual training

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-710-6275
Follow us on Twitter: @BaylorUMedia

WACO, Texas (July 19, 2019) – During its regular July retreat and summer meeting, the Baylor University Board of Regents celebrated the largest annual fundraising year in the University’s 174-year history, as members of the Baylor Family made $243 million in gifts and pledges during the 2018-19 fiscal year.

This marks the eighth consecutive year the University has surpassed the $100 million benchmark in fundraising, with this year’s total including the largest current gift in Baylor history – an anonymous $100 million gift that supports growth of endowed chairs and professorships through an Academic Challenge and provides the lead gift for a new Baylor Basketball Pavilion.

To date, members of the Baylor Family have made gifts and pledges totaling more than $700 million towards the priorities of the University that are outlined in the $1.1 billion comprehensive Give Light campaign, which launched publicly in November 2018. The fundraising total also reflects an 18.7 percent increase over the previous year in the total number of donors. Of particular note, the total value of gifts and pledges made to Baylor’s endowment – an important component of institutional strength – increased by 13 percent over last year.

“We are profoundly grateful to the many members of the Baylor Family who have come alongside the University as part of Give Light. This is an important moment in Baylor’s history as we make strategic investments throughout our academic enterprise and across the campus, and everyone is serving an important role as we shape our future,” said President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D. “This remarkable financial support is directly advancing our strategic priorities under Illuminate, our strategic plan, and strengthening our faculty and students where there is greatest need and the most opportunities for significant impact. Every gift moves us forward in our progress toward growth as a preeminent Christian research university.”

During the meeting, President Livingstone updated the Board on the implementation of the Illuminate strategic plan, including the work of Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., who joined Baylor as provost and chief academic officer on May 1. Since arriving, Provost Brickhouse has engaged academic departments and faculty across the University as progress on Baylor’s aspirations as an “Research 1”/Tier 1 institution continues.

“I am excited about our significant progress on Illuminate, which builds on our historic strengths and strategically invests in new areas of teaching, research and service,” President Livingstone said. “Provost Brickhouse is fully engaged in our efforts and working alongside our faculty and academic leadership to help us achieve greater levels of academic excellence while remaining firmly grounded in our Christian faith.”

New Board members

The July meeting is the first for six new members, as well as a new Student Regent, who participated in new Regent orientation, which included governance training based on Association of Governing Boards (AGB) best practices. Since May 2016, the Board has welcomed 27 new Regents and currently stands at 40 members.

The new Board members are:

  • Sarah Gahm, B.S. (Biology) ’84, M.H.A., of Dallas, At-large Regent; senior vice president of Baylor Scott & White Health Care.
  • William Mearse, B.B.A. (Management/Marketing) ’78, M.B.A. ’79, of Houston, At-large Regent; retired Accenture resources group operations officer.
  • Cassidy Parshall, a junior Baylor Business Fellow and finance major on the premedical track from Colleyville, Honoris Causa (non-voting) Student Regent.
  • Mark Petersen, M.B.A. ’84, of Arlington, Baylor Bear Foundation Regent; partner in MBD Solutions LLC and president and managing partner for PRF Capital LLC.
  • Manny Ruiz, B.B.A. (Marketing/Management) ’81, of San Antonio, At-large Regent; president/senior lending officer and member of the board of directors, TexStar National Bank.
  • David M. Slover, B.A. ‘86, M.B.A. ’89, of Dallas, Alumni-elected Regent; senior vice president and chief strategy officer, HighGround Advisors.
  • Randall A. Umstead, D.M.A., associate professor, associate dean for academic affairs and The Charles Evans Chair in Voice in the Baylor School of Music, Faculty Regent.

“We welcome these new Regents, including our new Alumni-elected, Student and Faculty Regents, who bring to the Board a variety of new backgrounds, ideas and perspectives. They all have in common a genuine love and care for Baylor and a desire to help the University move forward under President Livingstone and achieve Baylor’s vision for the future as a preeminent Christian research university,” said Jerry K. Clements, J.D. ’81, of Austin, chair of the Board.

Legislative, higher education discussion

As a customary part of the Board’s annual summer retreat, the Regents discussed several issues facing higher education, particularly Baylor, including the changing federal Title IX landscape as well as the implications of related legislation passed by the 86th Session of the Texas Legislature. Jeffrey J. Nolan, an attorney with Holland & Knight LLP and a national expert in threat assessment, Title IX, the Clery Act and FERPA, provided the Board with an update on Title IX at the federal level and national trends in the area of student safety and security.

“Nothing is more important at Baylor University than providing a safe and caring community for our students, including offering robust training and education programs to prevent incidents from occurring. With that said, we also aim to have a fair, equitable and trauma-informed Title IX process to address reports of sexual assault, harassment and interpersonal violence,” President Livingstone said. “We are committed to the safety and security of our campus community, and we will continue to align our policies to all state and federal laws and regulations in this important area.”

The Board also participated in a discussion with Janet B. Dean, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Asbury University and co-author of “Listening to Sexual Minorities: A Study of Faith and Sexual Identity on Christian Colleges Campuses.” The Board discussed the ability of faith-based universities, like Baylor, to provide a loving, caring community because of their Christian missions while providing LGBTQ students with the support essential to their holistic growth and formation as adults. As part of her work at Asbury, Dr. Dean is actively involved in research that explores the intersectionality between faith and psychology. Her ongoing projects include sexuality identity on faith-based campuses, sexuality and religiosity, thoughts of God and psychological well-being, forgiveness, and counselor self-care, in addition to various student projects that she facilitates.

In addition, as part of the University’s response to past issues regarding campus sexual assault, every Board member completed annual Title IX and NCAA compliance training.

“This reflects the Board’s personal commitment to strengthening the University’s culture of compliance and ensuring we continue to do the right thing,” Chair Clements said.

Athletics Update

The Board received an update from Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mack B. Rhoades IV and his leadership team on Baylor Athletics’ 2018-2019 season, which included success in competition and also in the classroom:

  • Leading the Big 12 in Graduation Success Rate for the fifth-straight year.
  • Four Big 12 Scholar-Athletes of the Year, tied for most in the conference (Baseball, Men’s Golf, Men’s Tennis, Volleyball).
  • Seventeen of 19 teams advancing to postseason play, the third-consecutive season with at least 17 postseason teams.
  • Two national titles (Women’s Basketball, Acrobatics & Tumbling).
  • Six Big 12 team championships, second most in the conference – Soccer (regular season), Men’s Golf (match play), Women’s Basketball (regular season and tournament), Equestrian (tournament), Men’s Tennis (tournament).
  • The nation’s only university to win a bowl game and record wins in NCAA Tournaments for Men’s Basketball, Women’s Basketball and Baseball.
  • Nine teams finished the season ranked top-25 nationally (Women’s Basketball, Volleyball, Soccer, Men’s Tennis, Men’s Track [outdoor], Men’s Golf, Equestrian, Acrobatics & Tumbling, Baseball).
  • 10 Draft Picks among the six sports that hold professional drafts (6-Baseball, 1-Football, 1-Soccer, 2-Women’s Basketball).
  • 25 All-Americans, 97 All-Big 12 selections, 289 Academic All-Big 12 Selections.

Baylor Athletics also launched “Baylor Built,” a key component of the department’s vision of “Preparing Champions for Life” that elevates student-athletes’ development and character formation alongside academic and on-field success, and announced “Baylor United” with NIKE to give a unified brand, style guide, color scheme and visual identity that also consistently aligns with the entire campus.

“A nationally competitive intercollegiate athletics program is an integral and important part of the Baylor experience, and the Baylor Family has enjoyed this past year cheering on our student-athletes who represent the University in the right way as Champions for Life,” President Livingstone said. “I have deep appreciation for the commitment of AD Mack Rhoades, his leadership team and all of our coaches, who uphold the Baylor mission, graduate student-athletes and compete at the highest levels.”

Tour of nursing school academic building

Regents also had the opportunity to tour the newly renovated Louise Herrington School of Nursing Academic Building in Dallas, adjacent to the LHSON’s longtime campus, Baylor University Medical Center and more than 150 professional nursing practice sites in Dallas-area communities.

Opened in fall 2018, the four-story LHSON building – formerly the headquarters of the Baptist General Convention of Texas – dramatically addressed the nursing school’s need for more classrooms and student service space, more than doubling its previous space by adding 100,000 square feet for high-tech nursing education. Features of the renovated campus include a central atrium for students to congregate and collaborate, active learning classrooms that foster more dynamic group interaction and allow for innovative teaching, an auditorium, chapel for quiet spiritual reflection and a Learning Resource Center. The previous campus now focuses exclusively on clinical practice and simulation laboratories for nursing students and faculty.

The LHSON Academic Building was the result of a successful $28 million fundraising project for new space to house the majority of the School’s academic functions. A lead gift from Louise Herrington Ornelas and another leading contribution from Baylor Regent Emeritus Drayton McLane Jr., B.B.A. ’58, his wife, Elizabeth, and the McLane family helped propel the project forward and make the building a reality.


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 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.