Baylor Regents Celebrate Groundbreaking of the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center, Approve Final Phase of $21.2 Million Renovation of Tidwell Bible Building

February 24, 2020

Board hears quarterly update from President Livingstone, approves new Student, Faculty and BGCT Regents

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WACO, Texas (Feb. 24, 2020) – At its regular February meeting, the Baylor University Board of Regents celebrated the groundbreaking of the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center – a new multi-purpose facility that will serve as an exciting new entry point to Baylor’s campus – and approved the final phase and project budget of the $21.2 million restoration of the University’s iconic Tidwell Bible Building.

On Friday, Feb. 21, Paula Hurd and daughters, Kelly, BBA ’14, and Kathryn, joined Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., as well as members of the Baylor Board of Regents, University administration, students, faculty and staff, at a ceremonial groundbreaking of the $60 million, 120,000-square-foot complex at the corner of Interstate 35 and University Parks Drive.

The groundbreaking also served as a time to honor the legacy of Mark Hurd, a 1979 graduate of Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business, who passed away in October 2019. Mark Hurd was CEO of Oracle Corporation and a member of Oracle’s board of directors. He also served as Vice Chairman for Baylor’s Board of Regents. Together, Mark and Paula served as co-chairs on the National Campaign Steering Committee for the Give Light Campaign, the University’s $1.1 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign. Their gift – one of the largest in Baylor history – was the first major gift announced as part of the November 2018 public launch of Give Light.

The Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center will serve as the hub for the approximately 60,000 prospective students, families, alumni and other guests who currently visit campus, creating interest and enthusiasm in the University through a high-tech and interactive experience. Major features include a grand hall and ballroom; a bright, window-filled pavilion; spirit shop and restaurant; a suspended, 250-seat venue that opens up to a stunning view of Pat Neff Hall and the beautiful Baylor campus; green space for events and concerts; and offices for Admissions and Baylor Alumni staff.

Site work is expected to begin this spring, with an anticipated completion date in spring 2022. [Read more about the groundbreaking for the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center.]

Tidwell Bible Building Restoration

Regents also approved the final phase and total project budget of $21.2 million for the restoration of Tidwell Bible Building, which was built in 1954. The project is one of the University’s top priorities among the nearly $300 million in capital improvements planned as part of the Give Light campaign.

The renovation will preserve the beautiful limestone carvings depicting scenes from the Old and New Testaments and the stained glass windows in Miller Chapel, as well as the addition of a prayer chapel that provides a breathtaking view of campus from the top floors of Tidwell that will be accessible by elevator for the first time in the building’s history. Construction on the 57,000-square-foot facility is expected to begin in late 2020, with a reopening anticipated in 2022.

“Nearly every student takes a core course in religion and history in Tidwell Bible Building, so its much-needed restoration has been one of our top capital priorities,” said Board Chair Jerry K. Clements, JD ’81. “The project includes critical renovations to improve infrastructure while expanding and modernizing the learning environment. But just as important to all of us at Baylor is the careful preservation of the architectural significance of this truly historic and sacred building for future generations.”

President’s Report

On Friday, President Livingstone gave her quarterly report to the Board, including updates on Baylor’s Illuminate strategic plan and the Give Light campaign that supports the initiatives of Illuminate, among other University priorities. She reported that the Give Light campaign – which impacts every aspect of campus life, from academics and athletics to student life and global engagement – has raised $841.3 million to date. Additionally, seven new endowed chairs have been created as part of the Baylor Academic Challenge, which was established as part of the University’s historic $100 million gift from last year.

The president shared more about Baylor 175, the University’s year-long celebration of its 175 years of excellence in higher education. The celebration of the University’s 175th anniversary began on Feb. 1, the date of Baylor’s founding by the Republic of Texas in 1845, with activities continuing for the rest of the year.

“We are humbled to be the caretakers of such a remarkable legacy at Baylor,” President Livingstone said. “The vision of our Founders to establish a university that is ‘fully susceptible of enlargement and development to meet the needs of all ages to come’ calls us to build on our 175-year history and pursue even higher goals for the University’s impact on Texas and the world.”

The president updated the Board on the results of a research partnership between Baylor University and the Texas Business Journals that provide insights from nearly 600 Texas business leaders on the state’s business landscape and the role of higher education in preparing the workforce and partnering to find solutions to industry challenges.

Among the findings President Livingstone shared: More than seven in 10 respondents believe that it is important to the state’s future competitiveness to have more research universities, while eight in 10 either agree or strongly agree that a university research experience better prepares students for the workforce.

“Education is the backbone of our economy. As the business landscape grows and adapts to changing technologies, resource availability, regulations and worldwide competition, higher education must be nimble in the ways it prepares graduates to contribute to the future of a wide range of industries,” President Livingstone said. “As Baylor invests in a growing research enterprise and the pursuit of the highest level of research excellence through designation as a Research 1 university, and particularly in our role as a Christian research university, it is vital that we ask important questions about innovation, future challenges and the ways research partnerships address tomorrow’s needs.”

The president also discussed the overall climate for Baylor faculty, staff and students and the University’s ongoing work to provide a safe, loving and caring community for all members of the campus community.

New Student, Faculty and BGCT Regents for 2020-2021

The Board approved new Student, Faculty and Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) Regents for the upcoming academic year, with terms beginning June 1.

Sher Isada, a junior University Scholar from Euless, Texas, will serve a two-year term on the Board. She will serve her first year as an Honoris Causa (non-voting) Student Regent, while current Student Regent Cassidy Parshall, a senior Baylor Business Fellow and finance major from Colleyville, Texas, will serve her second year as a voting member of the Board.

Regents also approved Sara L. Dolan, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and neuroscience and director of the graduate program in clinical psychology at Baylor, to serve a three-year term as Faculty Regent.

Michael Evans, D.Min. ’90, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield and president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, was approved by the Board to serve a three-year term as a BGCT-elected Regent. Additionally, Dennis R. Wiles, Ph.D., of Arlington, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Arlington, was re-appointed to the Board to another three-year term as a BGCT-elected Regent.

“We have an impressive group of Regents who are selfless servants and committed to advancing the mission of Baylor University. These new additions to the Board will bring important perspectives and experiences as we strive to become the preeminent Christian research university,” said Chair Clements, who will conclude her term on the Board in May.

Inaugural Gold and Bold Alumni Celebration

Regents and University leadership joined together Feb. 21 with Baylor alumni and friends for the inaugural Honoring the Gold and Bold, an opportunity to recognize the historic 175-year impact of the University, honor outstanding alumni and look to the future and Baylor’s bold vision to pursue preeminence as a Christian research university. The event was hosted by special guest and Baylor alumnus Robert Griffin III, BA ’10, winner of the 2011 Heisman Trophy and current member of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.

The event also recognized Mark and Paula Hurd as recipients of the Founders Medal, one of the University’s distinguished awards, and several outstanding alumni with the 2019-20 Baylor Alumni Awards, which celebrate the distinctive mission of the University and honor those who achieve remarkable success in a manner consistent with that mission. This year’s honorees are:

  • Baylor Alumna of the Year: Kellie (Key) Fischer, executive vice president and chief financial officer of the Texas Rangers major league baseball team. She earned a BBA in accounting from Baylor in 1995 and is a Texas CPA.
  • Young Alumnus of the Year: Max Muncy, a professional baseball player with the Los Angeles Dodgers. During his Baylor career, Muncy was a freshman All-American in 2010, led the Bears in most major offensive categories in 2011 and was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in 2012.
  • Pro Ecclesia Medal of Service: Brenda (Rhame) Hauk, CEO and founder of BrightStone, a nonprofit based in Franklin, Tennessee, that provides services for adults living with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Hauk earned a BME in organ music in 1971 from Baylor.
  • Pro Texana Medal of Service: Kyle Deaver, mayor of Waco, Texas. A third-generation Baylor graduate, Deaver earned a BBA in marketing from Baylor in 1986 and a JD from Baylor Law School in 1993.

“Baylor is honored to have the opportunity to celebrate our alumni and friends as well we these outstanding members of the Baylor Family for their remarkable contributions to the flourishing of Baylor and society,” President Livingstone said. “We recognize and appreciate the powerful impact that Baylor graduates and the members of the extended Baylor community have on the world through leadership and service.”


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 18,000 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.