Baylor Regents Approve Construction of Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center, Celebrate $1 Billion Milestone for Give Light Campaign

May 14, 2021
Mark & Paula Hurd Welcome Center Architectural Rendering 2021

Architectural rendering of the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center at Baylor University. Construction on the Hurd Welcome Center is scheduled to begin in June 2021.

Board approves residence hall renovations and 2021-2022 budget; hears updates on historical campus master planning, student faith and character formation study, faculty job satisfaction survey; elects Board leadership, new Regents

WACO, Texas (May 14, 2021) – During its regular May meeting, the Baylor University Board of Regents approved the first phase of a capital projects plan, including constructing the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center and resuming the master plan for campus residence hall renovations. The Board also voted to approve the 2021-2022 operating budget, heard updates on historical campus master planning, caring for all students and faculty job satisfaction, and elected new Regents and Board leadership.

On Thursday, the Board also celebrated the announcement of a $7 million gift from Regent Paula Hurd, which pushes the University over the $1 billion mark in its $1.1 billion Give Light comprehensive philanthropic campaign. The $1 billion milestone was recognized during a ceremony at the iconic Tidwell Bible Building, one of the significant priority capital projects of the Give Light campaign. Faculty and staff will begin moving into the building over the summer while students will begin classes this fall in the restored facility.

The new gift will go toward the Baylor Basketball Pavilion – naming The Mark and Paula Hurd Floor – as well as toward other capital projects. In November 2018, the Give Light campaign officially launched with the announcement of a $20 million lead gift from Mark and Paula Hurd – recognized as one of the largest in Baylor’s history – to create the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center, a 125,000-square-foot facility that will create a “front door” to Baylor’s campus at the intersection of University Parks Drive alongside Interstate 35.

“On behalf of the Board of Regents and Baylor Family, I express our sincerest appreciation to Regent Paula Hurd for again supporting Baylor in such a meaningful way. Both Hurd gifts have played a significant role in increasing the momentum behind the Give Light campaign,” said Board of Regents Chair Mark Rountree, B.B.A. ’86, M.T.A. ’87. “Paula and her late husband Mark, one of our former Regents, have made an indelible, transformational mark on Baylor that will serve generations of students, alumni and fans for generations to come.”

Board approves phase 1 of capital projects plan, 2021-2022 operating budget

In Board business, Baylor Regents approved phase 1 of a capital projects plan and authorized the issuance of bonds as part of financing the projects. The Board approved construction to begin on the $75 million Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center, which will serve as the hub for the approximately 60,000 prospective students, families, alumni and guests who visit campus every year. The new facility will serve as the home of undergraduate admissions and for Baylor Alumni, include banquet and conference facilities and an interactive "experience" for prospective students and families, and anchor the future Baylor Gateway District. Site and infrastructure work is expected to begin this summer with completion targeted for May 2023.

In addition, as part of the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center, the Board approved naming the McLane Family Alumni Center in gratitude for the generous support from Regent Emeritus Drayton McLane Jr., B.B.A. '58, and his wife, Elizabeth; Drayton McLane III, B.B.A. '96, and wife, Amy; and Denton McLane, B.B.A. '99, and wife, Amy. The McLane Family Alumni Center will be a vital hub for alumni visiting campus and home for the University’s alumni engagement enterprise.

Regents also approved resuming the master plan for campus residence hall renovations, including phase 1 design and pre-construction plans for a $38.5 million renovation of Collins Hall and a $35 million renovation of Memorial and Alexander Halls, which house Honors College students. Renovation of Collins Hall is expected to begin in May 2022, with completion in summer 2023. Renovation of Memorial and Alexander is expected to begin in May 2023, with completion in summer 2024. Baylor previously renovated South and North Russell Halls in 2014 and 2015 respectively, Penland Hall in 2016 and Martin Hall in 2017.

The Board also approved a $789.4 million operating budget for 2021-2022, an increase of $77 million or 10.8% over last year's budget. The upcoming budget and the University's revised five-year financial plan refocus on the Illuminate strategic plan, including investments in faculty and staff, faith and character formation and student success and well-being; resuming priority capital projects, including aging infrastructure; and protecting financial integrity and positioning the University for future success, including stronger reserves and strategic investments and reallocations.

"As we emerge from a challenging year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have remained deeply focused on the priorities of our Illuminate strategic plan. Our faculty and staff are to be commended for their dedication to Baylor and serving our students during these unprecedented times," President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., said. "Moving forward, we have allocated resources in a strategic manner while building next year's budget that will accelerate us into Illuminate's next phase and our progress toward Research 1 designation while advancing our unique role as a Christian research university."

“Last year at the height of COVID-19, Baylor made many financial decisions that allowed the University to not only survive the pandemic, but position ourselves strategically for the future,” said Chief Business Officer Brett Dalton. “This year’s budget reflects the start of a comprehensive resource planning process that will guide us over the next five years and support the University’s aspirations under Illuminate. Additionally, now we are able to take advantage of favorable market conditions that will allow us to jump-start construction of the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center and address much-needed renovations in key residence halls and other infrastructure needs across campus.”

Design firm announced for historical master planning

Moving forward on the report from the University's Commission on Historic Campus Representations released in March, the University has established a Campus Experience Project Team, which will be responsible for reviewing the Commission’s recommendations and prioritizing the next steps in concert with the Board of Regents. The University also secured Sasaki, a renowned architecture, planning, landscape and design firm that will assist in historical master planning as University leadership begins preparing for further evaluation and implementation of recommendations. Board members heard a presentation by Sasaki and the Campus Experience Project Team and also took self-guided tours of many historical campus markers included in the Commission report.

The Board has charged the University administration with developing a proposed action plan regarding the recommendations, all of which will be evaluated and considered thoroughly, as feasible and in accordance with existing Board policies and procedures.

"There is much work to be done as we take measures to address all historical aspects of the Baylor story and celebrate the value of all members of the Baylor Family in fulfillment of our Christian mission," said President Livingstone. "We are pleased to engage Sasaki, one of the top firms worldwide, as we consider as to how best to communicate and reflect the complete history of Baylor University for current and future generations."

Board approves guiding principles caring for all students, including LGBTQ students

Baylor continues to place a priority on care for all students while rooted in its Baptist beliefs and traditional biblical understanding of human sexuality. The Board passed a resolution that acknowledges the University’s responsibility for serving the needs of all students based on three guiding principles:

  • The dignity and worth of all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, as we strive to fulfill our Christian commitment of a caring community.
  • The biblical understanding that sexual relations of any kind outside of marriage between a man and a woman are not in keeping with the teaching of Scripture, as summarized in the University’s Statement on Human Sexuality.
  • Our commitment to providing a welcoming, supportive educational environment based on civility and respect for all.

"As a Board of Regents, we recognize that Baylor’s LGBTQ students continue to seek care, connections, and community on our campus and a sense of belonging within the Baylor Family," the resolution stated. "As an important and faithful expression of our Christian mission, we desire to establish trust with our LGBTQ students so that, among other things, they might seek out the resources provided by Baylor.

"The University remains committed to extending biblical grace in caring for all our students and meeting them where they are, just as Jesus did, and adhering to traditional biblical teaching of Scripture regarding human sexuality."

The Board charged the President and University administration to determine the appropriate pathways to provide additional care, connections and community for Baylor’s LGBTQ students, including the possibility of establishing a new, chartered student group that is consistent with Baylor’s core commitments and the University’s policies and statements.

Faith and Character Formation, COACHE Faculty Survey

Board members heard a second-year update on the Faith and Character Formation Study, a longitudinal study to track the long-term impact of a Baylor education on a person’s faith and character development from when they arrive at Baylor, when they graduate and a decade after graduation. The study's findings informs practices, including the understanding of today's students, the view of Chapel and working more closely with campus ministry and local churches.

Lead researcher Kevin Dougherty, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology, along with Kevin P. Jackson, Ph.D., vice president for student life, and University Chaplain Burt Burleson, D.Min., updated the Board with findings emerging from the study's second year:

  • New students, seniors and alumni at Baylor have high levels of religious affiliation, religious belief and religious participation. Over 80% of all three groups identify with a religion and believe in the resurrection of Jesus. Over half attend religious services weekly or more, as compared to less than one-third of the U.S. population.
  • Seniors express stronger Vertical Faith Maturity (an individual’s awareness of and commitment to God) and Horizontal Faith Maturity (application of a person’s faith to other realms of life) than new students. Baylor seems to nurture both dimensions of faith.
  • Seniors and alumni say relationships with friends are a primary source of faith formation and character development while at Baylor.
  • Involvement with a local congregation is associated with a variety of positive outcomes for Baylor students, including stronger religious beliefs, greater sense of belonging at Baylor and higher GPA.

The Board also was updated on the findings of COACHE survey, conducted in partnership with Harvard’s Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education, to assess faculty satisfaction and identify strategies to enhance the faculty experience, retention and productivity. The findings from the survey, conducted among all faculty in spring 2020, provides a valuable source of data about areas of strength and areas where the University needs to invest time and resources to improve the workplace for faculty.

Among the top findings shared by the co-chairs of the Task Force on Faculty Job Satisfaction, Jason MacGregor, Ph.D., associate professor of accounting, and Lenore Wright, Ph.D., director of the Academy for Teaching and Learning and associate professor of interdisciplinary studies and philosophy:

  • Baylor Faculty are among the most satisfied in the nation across all dimensions of academic life – research, teaching and service – and they feel a strong connection to the University mission. One area with lesser satisfaction is promotion to full professor, a concern found not only at Baylor but also among the University's peer institutions and the entirety of the more than 100 universities that participated in the survey.
  • Faculty across campus are concerned that the University's under-represented minority faculty are in many ways having a less-satisfying experience at Baylor. We have begun to delve into this finding and expect this to be an in-depth process as we learn more about the campus and departmental cultures, systems and barriers that produce this reality. We will do the work and are committed to equity and equality at Baylor.
  • Faculty want to stay engaged through their entire careers. Many Baylor Faculty are looking for ways to reenergize their careers and pursue promotion within an ever-growing University.
  • Faculty want to contribute to campus life. It is important for the faculty voice to be heard in the governance of the University, as together, we strive to pursue the University mission. 
  • Across academia, faculty find it difficult to navigate deep, long-term interdisciplinary research and teaching, and Baylor is no different. Our faculty see value in collaboration, but also encounter financial, departmental and procedural challenges in maintaining active interdisciplinary partnerships.

Faculty satisfaction working groups established this spring by the Office of the Provost involve faculty across divisions in conversations that ultimately will lead the University to actionable steps toward improving the faculty experience at Baylor.  

Board approves new leadership, committee chairs, new Regents

Regents voted to approve officers and committee chairs, who also will serve on the Executive Committee, for 2021-2022.

Elected as chair and vice chairs are:

  • Mark Rountree, B.B.A. ’86, M.T.A. ’87, of Dallas, Chair.
  • Larry P. Heard, B.B.A. ’80, of Houston, Vice Chair.
  • Melissa Purdy Mines, B.A. ’90, of Austin, Vice Chair.
  • Dennis R. Wiles, Ph.D., of Arlington, Vice Chair.

Elected as committee chairs:

  • Academic Affairs – Alicia D.H. Monroe, M.D., of Missouri City, Texas, Chair, and Michael McFarland, B.B.A. '93, Ed.D. '05, of Crowley, Texas, Vice Chair.
  • Advancement and Development – David M. Slover, B.A. '86, M.B.A. '89, Dallas, Chair, and Julie Hermansen Turner, B.B.A. ’67, M.S.E.D ’68, of Dallas, Vice Chair.
  • Audit – Jill Manning, B.B.A. ’84, of Dallas, Chair, and Sarah Gahm, B.S. ’84, M.H.A., of Dallas, Vice Chair.
  • Compliance and Regulatory Affairs – William Mearse, B.B.A. ’78, Chair, and Faith Beaty, B.S., M.B.A., of Highland Village, Texas, Vice Chair.
  • Finance and Facilities – Todd Reppert, B.B.A. ’91, of Houston, Chair, and Manny Ruiz, B.B.A. ’81, of San Antonio, Vice Chair.
  • Nominating, Governance and Regent Leadership – Randolph (Randy) L. Pullin, B.B.A. '82, of Houston, Chair, and Todd Patterson, B.S. (Dentistry) ’90, J.D., of Richmond, Texas, Vice Chair.
  • Student Life – Melissa Purdy Mines, B.A. ’90, of Austin, Chair, and René Maciel, M.S.Ed. '91, of McGregor, Vice Chair.
  • University Leadership and Compensation – Larry P. Heard, B.B.A. ’80, of Houston, Chair, and Neal Jeffrey, B.B.A. ’75, of Plano, Vice Chair.

In other action, the Board elected three new at-large Regents:

  • Jay A. Brown, B.B.A. '95, of Houston – three-year term; president and CEO of Crown Castle International Corp.
  • Michael Heiskell, B.A. '72, J.D. '74, of Fort Worth – three-year term; attorney and partner, Johnson, Vaughn & Heiskell.
  • The Honorable Don R. Willett, B.B.A. '88, of Austin – three-year term; Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Regents re-elected by the Board to three-year teams are:

  • Michael McFarland, B.B.A. '93, Ed.D. '05, of Crowley, Texas – second three-year term.
  • Todd Reppert, B.B.A. ’91, of Houston – second three-year term.
  • Kim Wilson Stevens, B.S.Ed. ’93, of Waco – final three-year term.

Elected by Baylor alumni to a three-year term on the Board as an alumni-elected Regent is:

  • Katie Jo Luningham, B.A. ’11, of Fort Worth.

Luningham received 1,933 votes of the 4,661 Baylor graduates who voted in the spring election, which was administered and certified by Election-America Inc. Other alumni-elected Regent candidates included Phil Lakin, B.B.A. ’89, M.B.A. ’99, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, (1,632 votes), and Gordon Wilkerson, B.B.A. ’82, of Lubbock, Texas, (1,096 votes).

Regents appointed or reappointed by the Baptist General Convention of Texas and confirmed by the Board are:

  • Tyler C. Cooper, B.B.A. '94, of Dallas – first three-year term; president and CEO of Cooper Aerobics; preventive medicine physician at Cooper Clinic.
  • Diane Dillard, B.A. '76, J.D. '79, of Houston – first three-year term; attorney, Law Offices of Diana Dillard.
  • René Maciel, M.S.Ed. '91, of McGregor – second three-year term.

Faculty Regent confirmed by the Board:

  • Brian Raines, D.Phil., associate dean for research and strategic planning, College of Arts & Sciences, professor of mathematics.

Student Regents approved by the Board:

  • Sher Isada, a senior University Scholar from Euless, Texas – second-year voting member.
  • Ally Perkins, a sophomore political science major from Tyler, Texas – two-year term (voting member in the second year).

All terms begin on June 1.

Members who have completed their service on the Board are The Honorable Jennifer Walker Elrod, B.A. ’88, of Houston; Dan Hord III, B.B.A. ’89, of Midland; J. Cary Gray, B.A. ’79, B.Acc. ’80, J.D. ’83, of Houston; Cassidy Parshall, a senior Baylor Business Fellow and finance major on the premedical track from Colleyville, Texas; and Gordon Wilkerson, B.B.A. '82, Lubbock, Texas.

In addition, the Board also expressed its appreciation to Michael A. Evans Sr., D.Min. ’09, pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church who was recently elected mayor of Mansfield, Texas; and Shelley Giglio, chief strategist and director of label operations and artist management for sixstepsrecords of Atlanta, Georgia, who both recently stepped down from the Board due to other time commitments; and Faculty Regent 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, who has accepted a position at Furman University.

"We are deeply grateful to our Regents for their faithful commitment and service to Baylor University," Rountree said. "Over the past year, Baylor has emerged stronger from the uncertainty from COVID-19, remained focused on our Christian mission and continue moving forward to achieving Baylor's vision of becoming the preeminent Christian research university. It has been a privilege to work alongside these leaders who have given so generously of their time, talent and treasure for the betterment of Baylor for all students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of our great University."


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.