Baylor Regents Elect New Leadership, Approve 2023-2024 Operating Budget

Board elects new Regents and committee chairs, approves renovation projects and new health-related degrees

May 19, 2023
Aerial view of Pat Neff Hall and Old Main skyline, Baylor University campus

Pat Neff Hall and Old Main skyline (Morty Ortega/Baylor University)

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WACO, Texas (May 19, 2023) – During its regular May meeting, the Baylor University Board of Regents elected new leadership and approved the 2023-2024 operating budget, three renovation projects and two new degree programs – a Master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies and a Bachelor of Science/Master of Science degree in Biology of Global Health.

Regents elected William “Bill” E. Mearse, B.B.A. ’78, M.B.A. '79, of Houston, as Chair of the Board, effective June 1. Mearse will succeed three-term Board Chair Mark V. Rountree, B.B.A. ’86, M.T.A. ’87, of Dallas, who began his service as Chair in 2020-2021. He will continue to serve on the Board for one additional year.

“I’m deeply grateful for Chair Rountree’s partnership and faithful, invaluable leadership of the Board. It has been a privilege to work with him over the past three years,” President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., said. “Mark’s steady hand and servant leadership were guiding forces for Baylor from the beginning of the pandemic through the challenging inflationary pressures of today. I appreciate he will continue serving on the Board for another year, and I look forward to working alongside incoming Chair Mearse, benefiting from his wealth of experience as we embark on the next phase of strategic planning and upholding our Christian mission and distinct place in higher education.”

During Rountree’s tenure as Board Chair, Baylor’s $1.3 billion Give Light philanthropic campaign has been transformational — undergirding the Illuminate strategic plan and fueling the University’s elevation as a Research 1 institution and as a preeminent Christian research university.

In addition to Mearse, the Board elected Melissa Purdy Mines, B.A. ’90, of Austin, Texas, as the sole Vice Chair. The Board’s Governance Review Task Force had suggested in November 2022 a shift from three vice chairs to one for more efficiencies in operations and governance; The Board formally adopted this change as part of the May meeting. Mearse and Mines will be the first to serve within the new structure.

“It has been a sincere privilege to serve as Chair of the Baylor Board of Regents alongside President Livingstone, her leadership team and my fellow Board members who selflessly give of their time, talent and treasure in support of the University’s strategic direction and historic Christian mission,” Rountree said. “We have an extremely healthy Board and University, and under Chair Mearse and Vice Chair Mines, we will continue Baylor’s momentum as a preeminent Christian research university that shines its light to the world.”

Board approves operating budget, renovation projects, two health-related degrees

The Board approved a $902.4 million University operating budget for 2023-2024, an increase of $39.2 million, or a 4.5% increase from last year. The budget aligns with Baylor’s five-year comprehensive resource plan through 2027. Plan priorities include investments in faculty and staff; faith and character formation and student success and well-being; strategic capital investments for current and future competitiveness; and prioritizing financial strength and stewardship, including investments in reserves and infrastructure.

“We have been blessed as an institution with a comprehensive resource roadmap that ensures the ongoing financial strength, flexibility and long-term viability of the University,” President Livingstone said. “We continue to invest in our students, faculty and staff in keeping with our Christian mission, planning boldly for the future while ensuring we have a solid foundation for success in all areas across the University.”

Regents also approved funding for three renovation projects:

  • $7.5 million for phase 1 renovations of Allen and Dawson Residence Halls, including design and pre-construction services for the project expected to begin in May 2024 and be completed by fall 2025;
  • $7 million for phase 1 design and phase 2 construction of Honors College office spaces in the Draper Academic Building, where work is expected to begin this summer; and
  • $10 million for phase 1 design and phase 2 construction of Baylor Law School, including the student resource center, administrative and alumni development suites, and flexible spaces for current use and future growth. Work is set to begin this summer with expected completion in December 2023.

In addition, the Board approved a Master’s degree in Physician Assistant Studies and a Bachelor of Science/Master of Science Degree in Biology of Global Health.

The Physician Assistant Studies program will be housed in the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences. It will provide students additional graduate opportunities while welcoming new, experienced faculty scholars to Baylor. The innovative, career-focused educational program will develop highly skilled, mindful and empathetic physician assistants who are able to provide optimal care for patients, contribute significantly to team-based care, effectively navigate the complex health care system and promote wellness in their communities. The program is pending approval from the University’s institutional accreditor SACSCOC and the program accreditor ARC-PA.

The five-year B.S./M.S. degree in Biology of Global Health will live in the Department of Biology at Baylor, and it is a collaboration with the Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) National School of Tropical Medicine (NSTM). Pre-health students will have two tracks of specialization – a B.S./M.S. with all coursework at Baylor’s Waco campus and a B.S./M.S. with a certificate in Tropical Health and Biotechnology that requires coursework from the NSTM at BCM in Houston.

President Livingstone focuses on strategic priorities and higher education landscape

In her regular report to the Board, President Livingstone addressed a number of institutional priorities, including the launch of the University’s new Strategic Planning Group, which is being co-chaired by Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., and Tiffany Hogue, J.D., Chief of Staff to the President. The group began meeting earlier this month and will hold the first of numerous listening sessions with the Baylor Family later this summer and into the fall semester. The group is expected to deliver a new strategic plan for consideration by President Livingstone and ultimately approval by the Baylor Board of Regents in May 2024.

As we near the end of Illuminate, it is exciting to see the many ways our University has been transformed during the past five-plus years, from R1 designation to dozens of new endowed faculty positions to $1.3 billion given by the Baylor Family and friends to the Give Light campaign. Baylor truly has been blessed,” President Livingstone said. “However, it is vitally important that we maintain, if not accelerate, the incredible momentum of the University and continue the good stewardship of all that has been bestowed to Baylor. We look forward to considering together as a campus community what the next chapter in our University’s strategic planning process will be beyond Illuminate in our ongoing efforts to be recognized as a preeminent Christian research university.”

The President highlighted the University’s recent Commencement ceremonies, which featured one of the largest graduating classes at Baylor with more than 3,100 graduates. In addition, she updated the Board on the continuing demand for a Baylor education, rising retention rates and strong enrollment, all in alignment with the University’s Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) plan. Lastly, President Livingstone noted several task forces charged with identifying new revenue streams for the University and the upcoming grand opening of the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center in September, made possible by the generosity of the Hurds to publicly launch Baylor’s Give Light capital campaign in 2018.

Board approves committee chairs, new Regents

Regents voted to approve committee chairs, who also will serve on the Executive Committee, for 2023-2024. Additionally, the Board elected a new at-large Regent and re-elected or confirmed Regents to new terms.

Elected as committee chairs and vice 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 – Manny Ruiz, B.B.A. ’81, of San Antonio, Texas, Chair, and Paula R. Hurd, B.B.A., of Atherton, California, Vice Chair
  • Audit, Compliance and Risk Management – Jill Manning, B.B.A. ’84, of Dallas, Chair, and Katie Jo Luningham, B.A. ’11, of Fort Worth, Texas, Vice Chair
  • Finance and Facilities – Todd Reppert, B.B.A. ’91, of Houston, Chair, and Jay A. Brown, B.B.A. ’95, of Houston, Vice Chair
  • Nominating, Governance and Regent Leadership – Todd Patterson, B.S. ’90, J.D., of Richmond, Texas, Chair, and Michael Heiskell, B.A. ’72, J.D. ’74, of Fort Worth, Texas, Vice Chair
  • Student Life – Melissa Purdy Mines, B.A. ’90, of Austin, Texas, Chair, and René Maciel, M.S.Ed. ’91, of McGregor, Texas, Vice Chair
  • University Leadership and Compensation – Sarah Gahm, B.S. ’84, M.H.A., of Dallas, Chair, and Gail W. Stewart, B.B.A. ’80, J.D. ’83, of Houston, Vice Chair

The Board elected three new at-large Regents:

  • David R. Brooks, B.B.A. ’80, M.B.A. ’81, of McKinney, Texas – three-year term; Chairman, President, CEO and Board Director of Independent Bank
  • Martha Delehanty, B.S., of Jupiter, Fla. – three-year term; Chief People Officer of Commvault
  • Carey P. Hendrickson, B.B.A. ’85, M.B.A., of Arlington, Texas – three-year term, Baptist General Convention of Texas-appointed Regent; Chief Financial Officer of U.S. Physical Therapy Inc.

Approved by the Board as Honoris Causa Baylor “B” Association Regent:

  • Angelique Banket Cunningham, B.B.A. ’00, of Dripping Springs, Texas – three-year term; Athletic Director and Track and Field coach at St. Michael’s Catholic Academy

Regents re-elected by the Board to three-year terms:

  • Jill Manning, B.B.A. ’84, of Dallas – third three-year term
  • Melissa Purdy Mines, B.A. ’90, of Austin, Texas – third three-year term
  • Paula R. Hurd, B.B.A., of Atherton, California – second three-year term
  • Todd Patterson, B.S. ’90, J.D., of Richmond, Texas – second three-year term

Approved by the Board as a Baylor College of Medicine Trustee:

  • Sarah Gahm, B.S. ’84, M.H.A., of Dallas

Approved by the Board in February 2023 as Student and Faculty Regents:

  • JD McDonald, M.Div. Student at Truett Seminary, of Johnson City, Tenn. – second term, voting Student Regent
  • Xavier Dawes, Sophomore Electrical and Computer Engineering Major, of Wylie, Texas – first term, non-voting Student Regent
  • Lesley McAllister, D.M.A., Professor of Piano, Director of the Keyboard Division and Director of Piano Pedagogy in the School of Music – three-year term as Faculty Regent

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

  • Stephen C. Wells, B.A. ’90, M.Div. ’97, D.Min. ’03, of Houston; Pastor of South Main Baptist Church in Houston

Wells received 1,485 votes of the 4,086 Baylor graduates who voted in the spring election, which was administered and certified by YesElections. Other alumni-elected Regent candidates included:

  • Nicole Yeakley Cornish, B.A. ’10, of Athens, Texas; Principal of Athens High School in Athens ISD
  • John Mark Jennings, B.B.A. ’88, of Laguna Niguel, Calif.; Director of Enterprise Risk Management for In-N-Out Burger

All terms begin on June 1.

Regents completing their service on the Board are Faith Cederholm Beaty, B.S., M.B.A., of Highland Village, Texas; Faculty Regent Sara L. Dolan, Ph.D., of Waco; Kristina Doerner Guidi, B.A. ’00, of Washington, D.C.; Neal Jeffrey, B.B.A. ’75, of Plano, Texas; Mark E. Lovvorn, B.B.A. ’76 and B.Acc. ’77, of Dallas; Student Regent Ally Perkins of Tyler, Texas; and Dennis R. Wiles, Ph.D., of Arlington, Texas. This year’s class of Regents completing their terms would have also included the late Mark Hurd, B.B.A. ’79, who passed away in October 2019.

“I want to personally thank this remarkable group of selfless servants who have dedicated their past several years to Baylor,” Rountree said. “They have imparted their wisdom, given their time and shared their insights during times of great challenge to this current period of incredible growth and recognition for the University. This group of Regents will leave a lasting legacy on the Board and across the Baylor Family.”


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 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.