Baylor Regents Approve 2024-2025 Operating Budget, Elect Board and Committee Leadership, New At-large Regents

Board affirms next strategic plan with charge to begin rollout in Fall 2024

May 17, 2024
Baylor University official seal with the Texas star in the middle surrounded by the motto Pro Ecclesia Pro Texana

Official Baylor University seal (Baylor Photography)

Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-709-5959
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WACO, Texas (May 17, 2024) – During its regular May meeting, the Baylor University Board of Regents approved the University’s 2024-2025 operating budget, voted on Board and committee leadership and elected new at-large Regents – including a former Waco mayor and a top Texas healthcare executive who also has ties to the city.

In addition, the Board affirmed the University’s next strategic plan through 2030 and charged the administration to begin a rollout in Fall 2024. The Board also approved expanding the University’s longstanding motto by adding Pro Mundo (For the World) to Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana (For Church, For Texas).

“Now that Baylor has risen to a Christian Research 1 university, we have an opportunity to shine God’s light around the world and serve others in even more significant ways,” Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., said. “Our world is becoming increasingly complex and challenging, and we must lead in emerging fields and remain competitive in academics and athletics. Baylor brings an important Christian perspective to help solve grand challenges, particularly at the intersection of health and engineering. Our students will always remain our top priority, and we must prepare them to lead now and into the future in an ever-changing global environment.”

The Baylor University motto – unchanged since 1851 – is inscribed on the official Baylor seal, its iconic class rings and the medallion worn by the President during commencement exercises. It will be updated to Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana, Pro Mundo on new campus installations and uses beginning this summer.

Operating budget

Through gifts from the Baylor Family and friends, Give Light eclipsed its initial goal of $1.1 billion and will conclude with more than $1.5 billion raised. The most successful comprehensive fundraising campaign in Baylor history provided the support for the Illuminate strategic plan, which fueled the University’s elevation as an R1 Christian research university with more endowed faculty positions, additional student scholarships, capital improvements and endowment gains.

Through gifts from the Baylor Family and friends, Give Light eclipsed its initial goal of $1.1 billion and will conclude with more than $1.5 billion raised. The most successful comprehensive fundraising campaign in Baylor history provided the support for the Illuminate strategic plan, which fueled the University’s elevation as an R1 Christian research university with more endowed faculty positions, additional student scholarships, capital improvements and endowment gains.

“As fiduciaries of the University, the Board is incredibly gratefully to the Baylor Family for committing more than $620 million to endowed funds through the Give Light campaign and to our Office of Investments for its gold-standard management and expansion of Baylor’s endowment,” said Board Chair William “Bill” E. Mearse, B.B.A. ’78, M.B.A. '79, of Houston. “The endowment supports the long-term affordability and excellence of a Baylor education, enabling us to attract and retain exceptional faculty, sustain world-class research and ensure that deserving students from across the country and around the world have access to the transformational Baylor experience.”

The University’s $2.1 billion endowment – the highest in its history – recently garnered national recognition, particularly for outpacing the returns of some of the nation’s top endowments. For the most recent fiscal year that ended June 30, 2023, Baylor’s endowment gained 6.4%, besting all Ivy League returns. Furthermore, over the past five years, Baylor’s 10.9% annualized return outpaced all but one of the Ivies (Brown University). For this period, Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service has Baylor’s endowment ranked among the top 5% of all U.S. endowments.

Board elects leadership, committee chairs and new at-large Regents

Regents re-elected Mearse to a second term as Chair of the Board, and Melissa Purdy Mines, B.A. ’90, of Austin, as Vice Chair.

The Board approved committee chairs, who will also serve on the Executive Committee, along with committee vice chairs for 2024-2025.

Elected as committee chairs and vice chairs:

  • Academic Affairs – Michael Heiskell, B.A. ’72, J.D. ’74, of Fort Worth, Chair, and Tyler C. Cooper, B.B.A. '94, M.D., of Dallas, Vice Chair;
  • Advancement and Development – Manny Ruiz, B.B.A. ’81, of San Antonio, 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, J.D., of Fort Worth, 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, Chair, and Jack F. Harper II, B.B.A. ’93, of Midland, Vice Chair;
  • Student Life – René Maciel, M.S.Ed. ’91, of McGregor, Chair, and Michael McFarland, B.B.A. ’93, Ed.D. ’05, of Crowley, Vice Chair; and
  • 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.

Elected as new at-large Regents:

  • Kyle Deaver, B.B.A. ’86, J.D. ’93, partner in the Waco law firm Deaver and Deaver. Deaver previously served as mayor of Waco; and
  • Charles E. Williams, M.B.A., M.O.T., FACHE, president of Baylor Scott & White Health Dallas-Fort Worth – West Region and Baylor Scott & White – Fort Worth. Williams previously served as president of Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Hillcrest in Waco.

Re-elected by the Board to three-year terms:

  • Jay A. Brown, B.B.A. ’95, of Houston – second term;
  • Michael Heiskell, B.A. ’72, J.D. ’74, of Fort Worth – second term;
  • The Honorable Don R. Willett, B.B.A. '88, J.D., of Austin – second term;
  • Michael McFarland, B.B.A. '93, Ed.D. '05, of Crowley – third term; and
  • Todd Reppert, B.B.A. ’91, of Houston – third term.

Regents recommended by the Baptist General Convention of Texas and confirmed by the Board are:

  • Tyler C. Cooper, B.B.A. '94, M.D., of Dallas – second term;
  • D. Diane Dillard, B.A. '76, J.D. '79, of Houston – second term; and
  • René Maciel, M.S.Ed. '91, of McGregor – third term.

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

  • Xavier Dawes, junior electrical and computer engineering major from Wylie – second term, voting Student Regent through 2025;
  • Meghan Fletcher, B.S.F.C.S. ’20, M.S.Ed. ’22, doctoral candidate in higher education and leadership from Lawrence, Kansas – first-term, non-voting Student Regent; and
  • Andrew Arterbury, Ph.D., Professor of Christian Scriptures at Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary – three-year term as Faculty Regent.

Affirmed by the Board in February as Alumni-elected Regent:

  • Katie Jo Luningham, B.A. ’11, J.D., of Fort Worth – third term.

All terms begin on June 1.

Regents completing their service on the Board are past Board Chair Mark Rountree, B.B.A. ’86, M.T.A. ’87, of Dallas, and Kim Wilson Stevens, B.S.Ed. ’93, of Waco, as well as Student Regent and Truett Seminary student James “JD” McDonald and Faculty Regent Brian Raines, D.Phil. 

“I am deeply grateful for each of our outgoing Regents who selflessly have given so much of their time, wisdom and insight during their service on the Board,” Chair Mearse said. “They helped steward the University’s Christian mission, provided invaluable leadership and perspective during some of our most difficult days and championed our greatest achievements as we strengthened our influence around the world.”

Other Board business

Man on stage speaking before a banquet audience
Board of Regents Chair William “Bill” E. Mearse speaks during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Robbins College of Health and Human Services. (Matthew Minard/Baylor University)

In other business, the Board joined in a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences. One of Baylor’s fastest-growing academic schools or colleges, Robbins College academic units share a common purpose — improving health and quality of life for individuals, families and communities. The Regents also heard a report on Baylor’s growing graduate, professional and distance education programs.

The meeting also included the annual evaluation of President Livingstone’s performance. As she completes her seventh year, the President has guided the University to designation as a Christian R1 university with global impact and strengths across the board in academics, research and athletics. Her leadership extends nationally as Chair of the Board of the American Council on Education (ACE), Chair of the NCAA Board of Governors and Chair of the Big 12 Conference Board of Directors. Additionally, she serves on the Baylor College of Medicine Board of Trustees and the Board of Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas (ICUT).

“President Livingstone’s leadership is strong, steady and visionary, elevating the University’s impact and influence in our nation and around the world,” Chair Mearse said. “She is one of most respected voices in American higher education, and her leadership has provided Baylor a seat at the table on some of the most pressing and complex issues in higher education and collegiate athletics. We look boldly to the future under her leadership and the University’s new strategic plan.”

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

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.