A Very Good Year

September 2, 2008

Baylor University closed out a successful fiscal year 2008 on May 31 with significant advances in diverse areas of university life, including academic programs, student life and athletics. For the fourth consecutive term, Baylor finished the fiscal year with an operating budget surplus, which permitted the University to appoint more faculty and staff, to fund the implementation of major strategic initiatives across the University, and to advance the goals of the Baylor 2012 vision.

The University welcomed the most academically qualified freshman class in Baylor history, with a record average SAT score of 1219. The incoming class also showed an increased level of diversity, with Baylor on track to achieve its 2012 goal of 33 percent of our undergraduate student body being persons of color.

Students benefited from the addition of 15 new faculty positions and 31 new staff positions. Nearly 40 percent of the student body now lives on campus, as the University opened another new residential community, Brooks Village, last fall. The Hankamer School of Business established its first doctoral degree, while a record-setting 402 students enrolled in George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

Baylor jumped six places in the U.S.News & World Report rankings to No. 75, the University's highest overall ranking ever among national doctoral-granting universities. The fall enrollment counted the student population at 14,174, the second-highest overall enrollment ever at Baylor. Spring commencement also set a record with more than 1,900 graduates receiving their Baylor degrees.

The endowment increased to an all-time high of $1.1 billion, even as endowments nationally have struggled in a difficult market. Baylor received more than $80 million in current and deferred gifts and pledges, including more than $21.9 million given specifically to Baylor's endowment. This is the seventh straight year of a marked increase in the support of endowed scholarships, faculty positions and programs.

The University also began funding the implementation of major strategic initiatives to continue to build upon recent progress, including:

  • a doctoral program in ecological, earth and environmental sciences;
  • a special interdisciplinary program in Baylor Environmental Health Sciences that integrates environmental, ecological and earth sciences with the biomedical studies community and health and molecular biosciences programs at Baylor;
  • the Academy for Teaching and Learning to help faculty and graduate students achieve a consistently high level of teaching; and the creation of a Research Initiative in Terrestrial Paleoclimatology, a program to position the Baylor geology department in becoming nationally recognized among the Ph.D.-granting geo-science departments in the United States.

Baylor welcomed a new university chaplain in Dr. Burt Burleson, a 1980 Baylor graduate who previously served as pastor at DaySpring Baptist Church in Waco. The athletics department also announced the hiring of 1987 Baylor graduate Wes Yeary, a national leader in the training and development of Fellowship of Christian Athletes college team chaplains, as sports chaplain. 

The Baylor men's basketball team made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1987, as the Bears became a positive national story featuring head coach Scott Drew and his team. Baylor athletics also welcomed new head football coach Art Briles, a former Conference USA and National Coach of the Year and recent inductee into the Texas High School Football Hall of Fame.

Baylor experienced a record-setting year for its student-athletes in the classroom. A school-record 449 student-athletes were named to the Big 12 Commissioner's Honor Roll for the fall and spring semesters. For the second consecutive year, Baylor produced the Big 12's highest Graduation Success Rate (GSR) score, with five of Baylor's 18 intercollegiate athletic programs--football, baseball, men's tennis, women's tennis and women's golf--all ranked No. 1 in GSR among their Big 12 peers.