Baylor Regents Affirm Next Five-Year Framework for Illuminate Strategic Plan, Including Hiring 100 Faculty, Completing Residence Hall Renovations, Athletics Capital Projects

November 5, 2021
Baylor University

(Morty Ortega/Baylor University)

Board approves phase 1 design and naming of football operations center, additional design for basketball pavilion; sets tuition and fees for 2022-2023 academic year, including significant decrease in Truett Seminary tuition; approves six new graduate degrees

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WACO, Texas (Nov. 5, 2021) – During its regular fall meeting, the Baylor University Board of Regents affirmed the framework for the next five years of Illuminate, the University’s strategic plan, including hiring 100 new faculty to accelerate the University toward Research 1 status as the preeminent Christian research university.

The strategic framework will guide the University’s priorities and strategic focus from 2022-2027, during which Baylor is on track to potentially achieve Carnegie R1 designation in 2024. Elements of the Illuminate framework were presented in several Board committees, including Student Life, Advancement/Development, Academic Affairs, University Leadership & Compensation and Finance/Facilities, that tied into the University’s greater strategy affirmed by the Board.

Key elements of Illuminate’s next five years include:

  • Hiring 20 new faculty annually (100 total) in support of Illuminate, providing required start-up, labs, equipment and support for success, and continuing investments in engineering and computer science,
  • Improving the residential campus experience by completing the renovation plan for the Baylor residence halls, including Collins Hall in 2022-2023 and Memorial/Alexander halls in 2023-2024, followed by renovation of Allen-Dawson and Kokernot halls,
  • Creating a new common space for the Honors College as well as completing renovations required to create a unified home for the college,
  • Completing the $1.1 billion Give Light comprehensive philanthropic campaign that undergirds Illuminate and impacts every aspect of campus life, and launching the Illuminate Academic Challenge, building on the transformational success of the Baylor Academic Challenge that created 14 new endowed faculty chairs,
  • Completing athletics capital projects, both among Give Light campaign priorities, for Baylor’s football and men’s and women’s basketball teams, and
  • Ensuring the ongoing financial strength, flexibility and long-term viability of the University.

Capital projects ahead for Baylor football, basketball, BRIC and Mayborn Museum

Moving forward on two athletics capital projects, the Board approved the naming of the Fudge Football Operations Center that will house the day-to-day operations of the Baylor football program. The Fudge Center is named in recognition of Kristy and Jeremy Fudge (BA ’97) of Parker, Texas, managing partner for Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP.

In addition to approving the name, the Board approved $6 million to begin phase 1 and design of the $65 million, 105,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility, which will be located along the Brazos River with views toward McLane Stadium. The construction timeline for the Fudge Football Operations Center will be announced in the near future.

Regents also took action on the upcoming basketball pavilion, approving $1.2 million for additional design and pre-construction services and the naming of the facility, which will be announced at a later date. The Board will give final approvals on the total project cost and pavilion location in early 2022. The timeline for the future home of Baylor’s championship men’s and women’s basketball programs continues as initially scheduled, with the groundbreaking set for summer 2022.

“We are deeply appreciative of the generosity of so many members of the Baylor Family, including selfless individuals like the Fudges, Paula and the late Mark Hurd, our anonymous donors to the basketball pavilion and the Baylor Academic Challenge, as well as others, who have stepped forward with transformational gifts that will impact the University for generations to come,” said Board Chair Mark Rountree, B.B.A. '86, M.T.A. '87. “Our Illuminate strategic plan, which now extends through 2027, touches every aspect of campus life – from academics and athletics, student life to global engagement – and these gifts, along with the remarkable philanthropic support of alumni, parents and friends, allow our University to plan boldly for the future and for our students to thrive now and for all ages to come.”

The Board approved two additional capital projects:

  • $1.7 million for the design and construction of a Materials Laboratory space in the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC) in support of Alan X. Wang, Ph.D., the inaugural holder of The Mearse Chair in Biological and Biomedical Engineering, graduate students and post-doctoral researchers. Wang is Baylor’s first faculty hire to an endowed chair position funded through the Baylor Academic Challenge.
  • $1.1 million for the creation and installation of a life-size sculpture of a Columbian mammoth in front of the Mayborn Museum that relates to the collection of mammoth remains discovered in Waco. The project, funded by an anonymous gift, includes associated hardscape and landscape improvements.

Board approves retirement contribution restoration, 2022-2023 tuition

During Friday’s meeting, the Board approved a revised revenue and expenditure budget for 2021-2022 to include the restoration of the University’s 10.8% retirement contribution for faculty and staff, retroactive to the beginning of the current fiscal year. In spring 2020, retirement contributions were reduced to 8% as part of proactive University-wide efforts to protect against the economic downturn and pandemic-related costs and revenue losses. The restoration – resulting from the University’s improved financial position and an improved outlook relative to COVID-19 and the national economy – was made in appreciation of the dedication, flexibility and many selfless acts of Baylor faculty and staff over the past year and a half.

The Board also approved a 3% tuition increase for the 2022-2023 academic year, as well increases in room and board at 2% and 3% respectively. The total percent increase in mandatory tuition and fees is 2.85%, marking the third year of 3% or lower increases as compared to the previous 10-year average of 5.41% and less than the original five-year plan of 4% annual increases.

The Board focused on increasing need-based financial aid to continue to ensure affordability of a Baylor education with great emphasis on fundraising for student scholarships. Progress includes:

  • More than 623 scholarship funds have been created since the beginning of the Give Light campaign.
  • During the 2021 fiscal year alone, 112 new endowed scholarships were established, including 29 spurred on by the Hord Scholarship Challenge to help bridge the gap between merit- and need-based financial aid and unmet financial need for Baylor’s brightest students.
  • The University welcomed its inaugural cohort of Baylor Trailblazer Scholars, named the Gilbert-Walker cohort in honor of Baylor’s first Black graduates, Rev. Robert Gilbert (BA ’67) and Mrs. Barbara Walker (BA ’67). The University launched the scholarship program in July 2020 with an initial investment of $5 million in scholarship support. Since then, parents, alumni and friends have given an additional $2.2 million to support this important University priority.

“The demand for a Baylor education has never been higher,” President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., said, noting that total applications for the fall 2022 class currently are up 15% over last year. “Academically excellent students and top faculty around the country are drawn to Baylor because of a unique combination of our distinct Christian mission, academic excellence, a mid-sized university with deeply engaged students and Power Five athletics. We are competing for the best and brightest talent at the highest levels for scholars and students – a testament to Baylor’s national reputation for an outstanding undergraduate education and our research aspirations as the preeminent Christian research university, with a significant voice that matters in higher education and in our world today.”

New affordability structure for Truett Seminary, no tuition increase for Law School

The Board also approved a significant reduction in tuition for students at Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary through a simplified and more transparent tuition structure for all degree programs, including the Master of Divinity, Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Master of Theological Studies, Doctor of Ministry and Ph.D. in Preaching programs, in addition to the three new graduate degree programs approved by the Regents as indicated below.

Effective June 1, 2022, tuition for the 2022-2023 academic year at Truett Seminary will be reduced from $1,071 per credit hour to $690 per credit hour, significantly decreasing the “sticker price” of a Truett education. The change in structure follows last year’s removal of the student fee and demonstrates the continued commitment of Baylor and Truett Seminary to the University’s Christian mission by making theological and ministerial education affordable and accessible.

Each year, Truett Seminary applies more than $5.5 million in scholarships and institutional support to lower the cost of tuition for students. In addition to the approved significant reduction in tuition, Truett Seminary will continue to award substantial merit and need-based scholarships, totaling more than $2.3 million each year.

The tuition and fees for Baylor Law School will remain unchanged for the upcoming academic year.

New academic degrees approved

The Board also approved six new academic degrees, including:

  • Ph.D. in Public Health, concentrations in social and behavioral health and epidemiology, Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences
  • Doctor of Occupational Therapy, Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence, Fort Sam Houston, Texas
  • M.A. in Global Ethics (joint degree with Hong Kong Baptist University), College of Arts & Sciences, Departments of Philosophy and Religion through the Center for Global Engagement
  • M.A. in Theology and Sports Studies, George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Faith & Sports Institute
  • M.A. in Contextual Witness and Innovation, George W. Truett Theological Seminary
  • M.A. in Theology, Ecology and Food Justice, George W. Truett Theological Seminary


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 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.