From the President

December 25, 2015
From the President

The Latin phrase E pluribus unum, or "Out of many, one," is familiar to Americans as one of the three mottos of the United States. They were first adopted by the Continental Congress in 1782. Engraved on the front of the Great Seal of the United States, this motto succinctly and boldly captures the spirit not only of our nation but of Baylor University as well.

The motto E pluribus unum was of particular significance as Americans paused in mid-January to observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Baylor is a campus where individuals from an astonishing variety of backgrounds, cultures and beliefs are warmly welcomed. Indeed, we strongly believe that Baylor's vibrant diversity, which enlivens and deepens our students' cultural experience, is an inspiring reflection of the face of God.

As we honored the legacy of Dr. King for his leadership in the civil rights movement, we joyfully celebrated our student body whose members hail from literally around the world. Their faces display all the beautiful colors that constitute the miracle of humanity. It is in that spirit of welcoming inclusiveness that we give thanks for a fall record in campus diversity, as overall minority enrollment reached 34 percent.

Abundant Blessings

Another (and, perhaps, lesser-known) motto of the United States is found on the reverse side of the Great Seal of the United States. It too is applicable to the Baylor experience at this time of blessing: Annuit coeptis - "God (or Providence) has favored our undertakings."

God's favor has long been with Baylor. As we celebrate the many blessings of the year just past, including those resulting from the sacrificial giving and tireless labor of so many in the Baylor family, we find ample evidence of God's goodness. For this we are exultantly grateful.

Completion of the $260-million McLane Stadium-a product of unprecedented generosity by alumni and friends, and of a historic Baylor-Waco partnership--helped propel an already championship-level football program to even greater heights. The six home games played in McLane Stadium this fall formed a remarkable string of victories, like sparkling diamonds on a necklace, with wins over two top-10 teams and record-setting crowds culminating in the Baylor Bears’ second consecutive Big 12 championship.

Led by coach Art Briles, our outstanding student-athletes and coaches displayed the integrity and determination that have become trademarks of Baylor Athletics. The team's participation in the Cotton Bowl, albeit disappointing in the end, nonetheless served as a powerful rallying point for Baylor Nation. This return to a major bowl provided a tantalizing taste of post-season success that is sure to come, by God's grace and gritty determination, as the Bears move forward in 2015 as defending Big 12 Conference champions. For all our student-athletes have accomplished both on and off the field, we are immensely proud.

In tandem with the success of all Baylor's athletic teams this fall, which included a No. 1 ranking by our women's equestrian team, the University experienced a stellar finish to the year in fundraising efforts for our priorities, with remarkably strong end-of-year giving. This success speaks to the solid embrace by alumni and friends of the goals of Pro Futuris, including the "Committed Constituents" dimension of our strategic vision, in which we state that Baylor will be a community "where the dedication of alumni and friends advances Baylor through sustained involvement and philanthropy."

Outstanding exemplars of empowering generosity include Jerry and Susie Wilson of Dallas, who made a $2 million gift establishing The Jerry and Susie Wilson Chair in Religious Freedom. This visionary gift addresses a vitally important issue in our world today--the protection of religious freedom for all persons, everywhere around the globe. This endowed chair will help ensure that Baylor vigorously and effectively addresses the significant issues of freedom of conscience and worship and, in particular, of Christianity's enduring role in promoting human freedom.

Dawn of a New Era

By the conclusion of this now-new year, our campus will have undergone a transformation that, combined with the major projects completed in 2014, marks the most dynamic growth in our University's long history. This is the growth envisioned by Baylor's founders when they formulated a plan for a Christian university "fully susceptible of enlargement and development to meet the needs of all ages to come."

By God's grace, this year will witness the completion of three prominent additions to campus along Bagby Avenue and University Parks Drive. The first is the $100-million, 275,000-square-foot Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation, located between Fourth and Third Streets and housing the University's nationally ranked Hankamer School of Business. Across the street, adjacent to Hallie Earle Hall, will be Elliston Chapel, a 100-seat gathering place accommodating small group Bible study, group worship and individual reflection. On University Parks Drive, work on the Beauchamp Athletics Nutrition Center is well underway. Located adjacent to the Jay and Jenny Allison Indoor Football Practice Facility, this dining environment will support the overall health and performance of our wonderful student-athletes who represent our University so well.

Add to those facilities a number of other initiatives, including the extensive renovations to North Russell Residence Hall; completion of the Rosenbalm Fountain and Fifth Street improvements; construction of the Williams Family Soccer and Olympic Sports Center; improvements to the Hurd Tennis Center in advance of hosting the NCAA Championship in May; and renovation of Memorial Dining Hall. Taking these various projects together, the home of our on-campus Baylor family will look considerably different by the end of 2015.

A Legacy of Leadership

A new era is also dawning in our senior administration with the arrival on June 1 of Edwin Trevathan, MD, MPH, as Baylor's provost and executive vice president. Dr. Trevathan comes to us from Saint Louis University (SLU), where he serves as dean and professor of epidemiology of the College for Public Health and Social Justice and as professor of neurology and pediatrics in the School of Medicine. One of the pillars of Baylor's success over the years has been the dynamic leadership and bold vision of its senior administrators. We are confident that Dr. Trevathan, who is strongly committed to Baylor's Christian mission, will embody those characteristics.

In his role as chief academic officer, Dr. Trevathan will be charged with advancing the University’s academic programs and providing oversight on vitally important matters of academic affairs. He brings outstanding credentials and genuine enthusiasm for Baylor’s unique mission and the community-informed vision of Pro Futuris.

As we eagerly look forward to Dr. Trevathan's arrival, I express deepest gratitude to Dr. Todd D. Still, The William M. Hinson Professor of Christian Scriptures at Baylor’s Truett Seminary and Faculty Regent, for his brilliant leadership of the very able 14-person provost search committee. Well done.

An Enduring Commitment

In September 1969, at a convocation marking the beginning of Baylor's 125th year, Judge Abner V. McCall, Baylor's beloved president from 1961 to 1981, gave a remarkable speech entitled "Change within the Unchanging."

"In this part of the world, Baylor is comparatively old; and some say that she is old fashioned. Indeed, the basic principles for which this university stands are old," McCall told his audience. "We believe that they are eternal truths which existed from the beginning and are related to the eternal creator who is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. This aspect of Baylor University is unchanging and is the chief reason that this university was established, has operated for 125 years and will continue to operate tomorrow."

Judge McCall's words endure.

In this New Year, Baylor faithfully remains true to its mission--a unique place where the lives of young men and women are shaped in ways that have eternal significance. As was the case in the mid-1800s when Baylor began educating pioneering Texans, today's students from around the globe discover a passion for service; a high potential for leadership; a keen desire for wisdom; and a deep understanding of calling. They do this so that they may become a part of the lineage of a faithful and caring Baylor family and contribute to the story of this great University as it continues to unfold.

May God continue to bless our wonderful students as they renew their Baylor journey.

With abiding gratitude and best wishes for a bountiful new year,

Ken Starr

President and Chancellor