Baylor Regents Celebrate Recent University Momentum, Focus on Next Phase of Give Light Campaign and Achieving R1 Status

February 18, 2022

Board approves revised total cost increase to Foster Pavilion, participates in discussions on student success and recommendations from the Commission on Historic Campus Representations

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WACO, Texas (Feb. 18, 2022) – During its regular quarterly meeting, the Baylor University Board of Regents celebrated the University reaching Research 1 status and eclipsing the $1.1 billion goal of the Give Light philanthropic campaign, received an update on the Paul and Alejandra Foster Pavilion and participated in a discussion about Baylor’s holistic approach to student success.

Additionally, Regents participated in a charrette process with architectural design firm Sasaki as the Board continued evaluating the 2021 recommendations of the Commission on Historic Campus Representations. Sasaki is developing a master plan for addressing many of the Commission recommendations for consideration by the Board at its next regular meeting in May.

R1 and Give Light

At the close of 2021, the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education announced that Baylor was now recognized as an R1 research institution, placing the University among the highest tier of research universities nationwide. Just 146 universities nationally – including only 39 private institutions – have attained R1 status as a doctoral university recognized for “very high research activity.” That significant achievement is a major milestone in Baylor’s pursuit of preeminence as a Christian research university.

On Feb. 3, Baylor announced a significant milestone as gifts and pledges to the Give Light campaign have surpassed the initial goal of $1.1 billion, marking the campaign as the largest and most successful fundraising effort in the University’s 177-year history. Give Light was launched publicly on Nov. 1, 2018, as a comprehensive campaign to fund the academic aspirations and infrastructure needs to support Illuminate, Baylor’s strategic plan, and progress toward R1 status. The campaign is expected to continue through 2024 in support of the University’s continued momentum under Illuminate.

“We are experiencing incredible momentum across the University, from academics and athletics to student life and facility enhancements,” said Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D. “We are extremely appreciative of the work and dedication of our faculty and staff dating back more than a decade that has put Baylor in a position to achieve R1 status. And the Baylor Family has generously come alongside the University through the Give Light campaign as we strive to become the preeminent Christian research university.”

In recognition of the faculty’s many contributions to Baylor reaching R1 status, the Board passed a resolution extending its gratitude “for their commitment to excellence in teaching and research and their unwavering dedication to advancing the University’s mission as Baylor seeks to address our world’s most significant challenges and to shine forth as the light of Christ.” The resolution is posted online and will be presented to the Faculty Senate at one of its upcoming meetings.

“I truly appreciate the selfless service of our Regents as they exercise their fiduciary responsibilities on behalf of the University during this time of impressive achievement and expansion,” said Board Chair Mark Rountree, B.B.A. '86, M.T.A. '87. “We were pleased to recognize the incredible work and impact of Baylor’s faculty as part of the University’s quest to R1 status, and particularly their dedication over the past two years during the COVID-19 pandemic on behalf students. We look forward to the continued momentum under President Livingstone’s leadership as we embark on this new phase of the Give Light campaign and the next five years of Illuminate.”

Dr. Livingstone hosted a panel discussion focused on Baylor’s next steps following the University’s R1 achievement as part of her quarterly President’s Report. Included in the President’s panel were Daniel Romo, Ph.D., Schotts Professor of Chemistry and co-director of the Baylor Synthesis and Drug-Lead Discovery Laboratory; Carson Mencken, Ph.D., professor of sociology, chair of the Department of Sociology and Faculty Athletics Representative; and Christina Lambert, doctoral candidate, Department of English, and assistant director of first-year writing.

Paul and Alejandra Foster Pavilion

In December, the Board announced a partnership with the City of Waco to construct the Foster Pavilion – the future home of Baylor’s championship men’s and women’s basketball teams – at the Baylor Riverfront-Cityside location, adjacent to the Clifton Robinson Tower on the west side of I-35. Since that time, the cost of construction materials and labor have increased significantly due to inflation and exogenous market forces.

The Board voted to increase the total project cost of the Pavilion from the initial $185 million to $212.6 million. The increased cost is expected to be offset by continued significant fundraising momentum on the heels of Baylor’s 2021 men’s basketball national championship.

As announced previously, construction of the Foster Pavilion is expected to begin in June 2022 with an early opening of the facility targeted for January 2024. The adjoining Development Center’s opening is anticipated in April 2024.

Student Success

Both the Academic Affairs and Student Life Committees participated in an in-depth discussion of the University’s holistic approach to student success and retention. The Academic Affairs Committee explored topics relating to excellent teaching, differentiating student support based on need, enrichment opportunities that inspire students, undergraduate research and post-graduation success.

The Student Life Committee focused on Baylor’s transformational undergraduate education, one of the key pillars of Illuminate. The Regents also heard reports from students including those representing the Student Government Association and Graduate Student Association, about the campus climate for students of color, as well as about the University’s strengthened efforts to address student mental health needs and character and faith formation.

Board Membership

Student Regent Ally Perkins, a junior political science major from Tyler, Texas, was appointed to a second term on the Board and will serve as a voting Regent next year. J.D. McDonald of Johnson City, Tennessee, a graduate student working toward a Master of Divinity degree, was appointed as a first-term, non-voting student Regent.

The Board also received the three finalist candidates who will participate in the Alumni-elected Regent process. The candidates will be publicly announced in early April, with the election process through an independent third party being conducted from May 2-12. The results for the election of the newest Alumni-elected Regent will be announced following the Board’s next regular meeting in late May.

Other items

  • The Board received the annual endowment report from the Office of Institutional Investments. Over the past 18 months, Baylor’s endowment has continued to outperform the market, eclipsing the $2 billion mark and adding $620 million to the endowment balance.
  • The Board updated the Endowment Investment Policy as approved by the Baylor Executive Investment Committee.
  • The Board approved a policy update to increase the capital threshold from $1 million to $5 million for projects requiring Board approval.
  • The Board approved a modification to philanthropic campaign counting language.
  • Earlier this week, Baylor and head football coach Dave Aranda announced the finalization of a contract extension through 2029. The Board approved the contract terms at a special called meeting in late December. As a private institution, Baylor does not disclose specific contract terms.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 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.