Baylor Launches Nationwide Search for Endowed Chair Faculty

April 14, 2021
Baylor Sciences Building

The 508,000-square-foot Baylor Sciences Building houses multiple core research and service facilities, six academic departments and more than a dozen interdisciplinary centers, programs and institutes. (Matthew Minard/Baylor University)

Five newly endowed positions, funded through the Baylor Academic Challenge, will provide strategic growth to Baylor academic programs and research

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-709-5959
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By Derek Smith, Baylor University Marketing & Communications

WACO, Texas (April 14, 2021) – Baylor University announced today the launch of nationwide searches for elite researchers to serve in five endowed faculty chair positions. These newly endowed chairs are strategically created to address significant societal challenges and recruit faculty in emerging areas of strength and focus at the University: data sciences, materials science, biomedical engineering, molecular biology and health, and water and health.

Endowed chair expansion represents a sustained step forward in Baylor’s research vision and is funded through the Baylor Academic Challenge, a unique dollar-for-dollar matching fund within Give Light, the University’s $1.1 billion philanthropic campaign. The Baylor Academic Challenge specifically sparks new endowed positions, which were identified as a critical component in support of Illuminate, Baylor’s strategic plan for research growth.

“New endowed chair positions will help Baylor attract professors at the peak of their game who conduct advanced research that addresses significant issues,” said Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D. “These five positions are all tied to specific initiatives within Illuminate, which means that their work will be core to the University moving forward.”

Illuminate provides a road map for Baylor’s pursuit of R1/Tier 1 research recognition and preeminence as a Christian research university. Endowed faculty positions play a key role in that plan. Throughout higher education, endowed positions accelerate and sustain a university’s research enterprise and an individual professor’s research endeavors through the provision of secure, substantial funding for high-level research, postdoctoral research and graduate student support and other resources.

“In higher education, there is a prestige factor in having a named professorship, and the faculty members who hold them typically have reached a very distinguished level in their career,” said Kevin Chambliss, Ph.D., vice provost for research at Baylor. “The endowments attached to these positions are very attractive to high-level faculty as they generate dollars or funding that can be used at the discretion of faculty members, which provides flexibility and security as they pursue their research goals.”

The newly open positions will enable Baylor and successful chairholders to accelerate, by design, interdisciplinary research that holistically addresses societal challenges addressed through Illuminate’s five signature academic initiatives:

  • The Kenneth and Celia Carlile Chair in Materials Science will focus on research within the priority initiative of materials science, which will include inter- and intra-departmental collaboration and coordination across the University.
  • The Jackson Endowed Chair in Water and Health will expand Baylor’s international footprint and advance the priorities of the Baylor in Latin America and health initiatives through research that links the environment and health.
  • The McCollum Endowed Chair in Data Sciences will provide leadership and transformational growth in the priority area of data sciences, helping to shape a comprehensive, interdisciplinary, University-wide strategic plan for data science.
  • The Mearse Endowed Chair in Biological and Biomedical Engineering will promote the growth and development of research and scholarly activity in biological and biomedical engineering, a priority falling within the materials science and health initiatives.
  • The James R. Schofield Endowed Chair in Biomedical Sciences will address the key area of health through cutting-edge research into human disease with a biomedical focus, encompassing molecules to model organisms and human disease.

“The faculty members we hire into these positions will have an immediate impact on our research enterprise as we pursue preeminence as a Christian research university,” Chambliss said. “In these positions, we are pursuing individuals who can help shape the institutional vision. As we think about the five signature initiatives of Illuminate, these new chairholders will be people who can take that vision from 30,000 feet to the ground level and build it out successfully.”

Baylor faculty from a variety of disciplines will partner with University administrators on committees to identify and recruit top national researchers and mentors.

To support these efforts, the University has developed a Research and Faculty Growth recruitment website highlighting Baylor’s University-wide alignment in support of elite research, and has placed branding ads in Science and Nature, prestigious research journals within the science fields.

These positions are the first of 12 funded through the Baylor Academic Challenge, with visionary donors from throughout the University family making these steps possible.

“At Baylor, we are so fortunate to have donors come alongside us who share this vision and understand the importance of endowed faculty and bringing them to Baylor,” Brickhouse said. “We are very grateful for their forward thinking and all they do to help us advance the Baylor mission.

“As we begin the search for new endowed faculty, it’s very exciting to see ways everyone has come together in moving Illuminate forward from a plan, to action.”


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 19,000 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.