A conversation with President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.
The Give Light Campaign has provided Baylor’s alumni, parents and friends with opportunities to come together in support of the University, raising more than $1.38 billion in resources for endowment, capital projects and expendable funds. So far, the Baylor Family has given $26 million in support of student development initiatives — everything from mental health training for staff to chaplaincy programming to renovations of student spaces.
The Give Light Campaign undergirds the priorities of Illuminate, the University’s strategic plan, providing the Baylor Family with funding initiatives aimed at strengthening and supporting areas that help to create the caring Christian environment that sets Baylor apart. As we mark the final phase of the campaign, which concludes in May 2024, we are highlighting some of the amazing things the philanthropy of our Baylor Family made possible.
A conversation with President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., on philanthropy and creating an unambiguously Christian educational environment
You have spoken before about Baylor’s unambiguously Christian educational environment. Could you share your thoughts on how Baylor fosters that environment on our campus and the role that our Baylor Family has in supporting those efforts?
Cultivating an unambiguously Christian educational environment requires intentionality across campus. It takes our entire campus community to make Baylor such a special place. I’ll focus on three critical components of fostering our unique educational environment — faculty involvement, student leadership and distinctive programs.
Our faculty are a key part of our students’ educational experiences. We think critically with our faculty about what it means to teach and produce scholarship at a Christian R1 university and what their role is in developing a rich, faith-based educational environment for our students. When we hire new faculty members, we ensure they are a strong fit for Baylor’s Christian mission and will enrich our campus community through their teaching and scholarship. Through the Give Light campaign and Foster Academic Challenge, the Baylor Family has been instrumental in helping us bring incredible new faculty to Baylor and support the talented faculty that have been at Baylor for years.
The talents and leadership of our amazing students strengthens our educational environment, too. Every year, Baylor staff members work with our students to explore how to establish a culture of community and care that permeates our campus. This year, our Division of Student Life is launching the Leading for Common Good initiative, which will inspire student leaders to think about how their leadership can promote human flourishing on campus. The Baylor Family plays a huge role in supporting our students so they can thrive and lead at Baylor. Scholarships for Line Camp, financial aid in purchasing textbooks and giving to student emergency funds are among the many ways the Baylor Family comes alongside our students.
Finally, we know that many of our students benefit tremendously from our distinctive programs and campus services. These programs, which enhance the Baylor experience for our students and make Baylor such a special educational environment, rely on the support of the Baylor Family. Examples of donor-supported programs include the Beauchamp Addiction Recovery Center, initiatives through the Paul L. Foster Success Center and the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat and its renovations. As we have invited the Baylor Family to partner with us in funding these initiatives, we have been astounded by the generosity we have experienced.
What is the value of Baylor’s distinctive approach to higher education?
I’ve heard dozens of stories from families who set foot on campus and, within an hour, knew that Baylor was special.
Our educational environment is nothing short of transformative for students. Our students grow in the classroom, learning from our world-class faculty and staff. They grow through their campus involvement, learning how to lead and serve others with compassion. And they grow living in authentic Christian community with their peers. I often receive emails from parents about how the Baylor experience changed their student’s life.
We also hear regularly from faculty members that our educational environment drew them from other institutions to join our work at Baylor. Many want to do cutting-edge research at an unapologetically Christian institution. And Baylor checks both of those boxes. In fact, Baylor is the only R1 university with an explicit, primary identity as a Protestant Christian university. Our caring, Christian environment — and the faculty and students who come to Baylor to be a part of it — make us unique in the world of higher education.
The Baylor Family has come together through the Give Light Campaign to support our students and their needs, whether spiritual, physical or emotional. How has the Baylor Family’s response to the Give Light Campaign supported Baylor’s mission?
When we began the Give Light campaign in 2018, we had no idea that we would receive such overwhelming support from the Baylor Family. We have been deeply humbled by the generosity of our donors and their excitement at Baylor’s trajectory and future.
To everyone who has given to the Give Light campaign in the last five years — whether $1 or $100 million — thank you for supporting Baylor University and our students. It is because of you that we can offer a transformational educational experience for our students.