Baylor Regents Approve Baylor Benefit Affordability Program, Receive Reports on Faith & Character Study, Rising Student Demand and Institutional Costs

*CORRECTION: Please note that tuition for the 2023-24 academic year is $54,844, not $58,844 as originally published. We apologize for the error.

March 1, 2023
Where Lights Shine Bright Billboard

Amid inflationary pressures, Board approves increases for construction, 2023-24 tuition

At its regular February meeting, the Baylor University Board of Regents took action on several committee recommendations and received reports on a number of strategic University matters, including Baylor’s pioneering Faith and Character Study. Study findings from the first full cohort of students revealed that over a four-year time frame, Baylor helps the majority of its students grow in faith and character while providing evidence of growth and the factors that predict it.

Through this study, Baylor – with its unique place in higher education as an R1 Christian research university – is tracking the long-term impact on students’ faith development, as well as character, from when they arrive, when they graduate and a decade after graduation. The findings have already informed practices at Baylor, such as reimagining Chapel and better connecting with local churches, and at other colleges and universities across the nation. Researchers Kevin D. Dougherty, Ph.D., professor of sociology; Perry L. Glanzer, Ph.D., professor of educational foundations; and Sarah A. Schnitker, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology, presented to the Board.

“Hearing from the remarkable Baylor faculty leading the groundbreaking Faith and Character Study was rewarding as we saw evidence of Baylor’s Christian mission being lived out through our students,” said Mark Rountree, B.B.A. ’86, M.T.A. ’87, chair of the Baylor Board of Regents. “It is gratifying to know Baylor does indeed help students grow and thrive in their faith, and it is vital we continue to advance Baylor’s distinct mission in higher education.

Rountree reported Baylor students and the entire Baylor Family will continue to benefit from the renewal of the University’s special relationship agreement with the Baptist General Convention of Texas for the next 10 years. The BGCT provides annual financial contributions to Baylor in the form of scholarship dollars in support of pastoral and ministerial education through George W. Truett Theological Seminary, financial aid for BGCT-affiliated pastors and ministers and their families, and in support of Baptist Student Ministry activities on campus.

Board approves Baylor Benefit, sets 2023-24 tuition

The Board’s focus on students continued with its approval of the Baylor Benefit program – a new affordability initiative that highlights the increasing demand for a Baylor education. Students nationwide from many diverse backgrounds and experiences are attracted to Baylor for its strong academics and historic Christian mission, as well as for its midsize and student experience that includes Power 5 athletics.

In addition, Baylor is now among a set of national peer institutions in an increasingly competitive elite academic market:

  • One of only eight schools – and none in Texas or the Big 12 – in the top 25 for undergraduate teaching and undergraduate research in the 2023 U.S. News & World Report rankings. The other institutions are Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Duke, Michigan, Elon and Dartmouth.
  • Among only four universities nationally to have had students win both the prestigious Marshall and Churchill scholarships in 2022: Princeton, Pennsylvania, Caltech and Baylor.

As the University continues to attract the best and brightest students, the Baylor Benefit program – effective for the 2023-24 incoming freshman class – will meet the needs of the most financially disadvantaged, students with an adjusted gross income below $50,000 with demonstrated need. Baylor Benefit will cover their tuition and is expected to have a significant impact on retention and graduation rates for eligible students. The University hopes to expand the Baylor Benefit to additional income groups in the years ahead.

“This launch of Baylor Benefit and a continuing focus on growing our endowment will position us for continued success as we maintain our R1 designation, recruit and graduate the brightest students and attract and retain the best faculty and staff,” President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D. said. “We have an obligation to address our students’ needs, and this program allows us to do that for some of our most disadvantaged and highly capable students.”

In conjunction with the Baylor Benefit program, the Board of Regents also discussed several financial challenges facing the University, most notably from post-pandemic inflation that has led to rising costs for utilities and construction and faculty and staff compensation, particularly since Baylor’s elevation as an R1 institution.

The Board also heard a report on increasing student demand and tuition costs, learning Baylor’s tuition rates continue to lag significantly behind private peer institutions, are the second lowest among the Power 5 private institutions (behind BYU) and are well below private competitors, including those in the state of Texas. Baylor’s recent moderate tuition increases – while thoughtful and measured – have further exacerbated the University’s financial pressures.

In response, the Board approved a 6% increase in Baylor’s tuition “sticker price” (*$54,844) for the upcoming 2023-24 academic year. Even with the increase for those who pay full tuition, Baylor will continue to have the lowest tuition among its national peer private institutions, ensuring it remains an affordable, high-quality academic option. In addition to the Baylor Benefit program, more than 90% of students receive financial aid, and 86% receive merit scholarships, which significantly reduces the actual amount of tuition students pay in comparison to the “sticker price.”

“We have worked hard to keep tuition increases small and measured during my tenure as President – increasing on average 3.8% in my five-plus years, when in the five years before, Baylor’s average annual tuition increase was more than 5%,” President Livingstone said. “Although we know Baylor is unique in higher education in many ways, we are feeling the widespread impact of inflation like everyone else. We believe this tuition increase, coupled with the Baylor Benefit affordability initiative, is necessary for Baylor’s sustainability and growth as an R1 university.”

In other action, and also in response to inflation and other increasing costs, the Board approved an additional $22.75 million for the renovation of Memorial/Alexander residence halls. The project – which includes an addition connecting the two halls physically to enrich the Honors Residential College living experience – is one of the capital priorities of the University’s Give Light fundraising campaign, an improvement outlined in the Illuminate five-year plan and a continuation of the University’s planned renovation of existing residence halls. The total project budget is $57.75 million with construction expected to begin in May and an anticipated completion in summer 2024.

President’s Report

President Livingstone presented her regular report to the Board, updating Regents on the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center, the upcoming dedication of the Rev. Robert Gilbert and Mrs. Barbara Walker statues commemorating Baylor’s first Black graduates and new architectural renderings for the Monument to the Unknown Enslaved on Founders Mall.

The Hurd Welcome Center will celebrate its grand opening on Friday, Sept. 8, coinciding with that weekend’s Baylor football game vs. Utah. The new facility, along Interstate 35 at the corner of University Parks Drive and Dutton Avenue, is the future home of undergraduate admissions and the McLane Alumni Center.

The Gilbert and Walker statues were created by renowned artist Ben Victor of Boise, Idaho, who is the only living artist with three pieces in the National Statuary Hall at the U.S. Capitol. The statues will be dedicated on April 4 outside of Baylor’s Tidwell Bible Building and are part of ongoing work related to the recommendations of the Commission on Historic Campus Representations. One of the Commission’s key recommendations was to better communicate the many contributions of Black students, faculty and staff throughout Baylor’s history, including through physical representations on the campus.

In addition, President Livingstone updated Regents on the Monument to the Unknown Enslaved, one of the Commission recommendations, honoring the enslaved persons who were instrumental in constructing Baylor’s original campus in Independence and whose identities are unknown. New architectural renderings of the Monument from noted architectural design firm Sasaki were unveiled Feb. 3 in conjunction with Black History Month.

Illuminate progress

The President and Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., also presented updates to the Board on Illuminate, the University’s strategic plan now embarking on its second five-year phase.

Provost Brickhouse reported on advances in student retention and graduation rates, the University’s history-making year for winning nationally competitive fellowships and awards, and on Illuminate’s five signature initiatives: Human Flourishing, Leadership and Ethics, Health, Materials Science, Data Science and Baylor in Latin America.

Vice Provost for Research Kevin Chambliss, Ph.D., also presented Regents with new data on key metrics critical to Baylor’s transformation as a Carnegie R1 institution, including:

  • Research doctorates awarded, which increased 73% from 158 in 2019-20 to 274 in 2022;
  • Total research expenditures across all funding categories, which increased 67% from $39.7 million in FY 2020 to $66.4 million in FY 2022; and
  • Total Research Staff, which nearly doubled from 56 in fall 2019 to 101 in fall 2022.

Board membership

Student Regent JD McDonald, a graduate student working toward a Master of Divinity at Truett Seminary, was appointed to a second term on the Board and will serve as a voting Regent next year. Xavier Dawes, a sophomore electrical and computer engineering major from Wylie, Texas, was appointed as a 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, was appointed to a three-year term as Faculty 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 1-11, 2023. The results for the election of the newest Alumni-elected Regent will be announced following the Board’s next regular meeting in late May.

“We look forward to welcoming our new Faculty and Student Regents and our Alumni-elected Regent this summer, as we continue the important work of identifying ways to enhance the expertise, diversity, structure and performance of the Board itself,” Rountree said. “I sincerely appreciate the selfless service of our Regents as we uphold the mission of the University and safeguard its future as a Christian research university.”

New master’s degree

The Board approved a new M.S. in interdisciplinary studies that will provide a diverse workforce with a degree that meets individual demands for increasing skillsets and employability among prospective students. The program, offered through Graduate Professional Education and the Baylor Graduate School, will be delivered online with the potential of a hybrid offering in the future. Some examples of careers graduates can pursue are postsecondary teachers, operation managers, management analysts and program management specialists.

Alumni Awards celebration

Following the Board meeting, Regents and administrators will celebrate the recipients of the 2023 Baylor Alumni Awards at an evening event in the Meyer Conference Center in the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation. The Alumni Awards honor individuals who embody the distinctive mission of the University and their remarkable achievements. This year’s recipients are:

  • Baylor Alumnus of the Year: Maj. Gen. Joel CareyB.A. ’92
  • Baylor Young Alumna of the Year: Richa Sirohi, B.S. ’18, of Pasadena, California
  • Pro Ecclesia Medal of Service: David Hardage, B.A. ’79, D.Min., of Dallas
  • Pro Texana Medal of Service: Alan Keister, B.A. ’92, M.D., and Vicki (Hicks) Keister, B.A. ’92, of Amarillo
  • W.R. White Meritorious Service Award: Allison Dickson, J.D. ’07, of Temple
  • Distinguished Achievement Award: Posthumously presented to the late John Cheng, B.A. ’91, M.D., of Aliso Viejo, California
  • Merrie Beckham Alumni By Choice of the Year: Marie E. Chiles, A.B.C. ’86, of Dallas


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.