Looking Forward

August 23, 2023

Earlier this summer, the Baylor University Board of Regents elected new leadership and approved the 2023-24 operating budget, three renovation projects and two new degree programs. In July, the Board convened for their annual retreat, a valuable time for strategic discussions.

New Leadership

William “Bill” E. Mearse, B.B.A. ’78

William “Bill” E. Mearse, B.B.A. ’78, of Houston, was elected by Regents as Chair of the Board, effective June 1. Mearse succeeds three-term Board Chair Mark V. Rountree, B.B.A. ’86, M.T.A. ’87, of Dallas. After a long and successful career with Accenture, Mearse, now retired, shares his experience as an advisor, investor and board member with several organizations.

Melissa Purdy Mines, B.A. ’90

The Board elected Melissa Purdy Mines, B.A. ’90, of Austin, Vice Chair. Mines serves as global campaign lead for enterprise visualization and virtualization solutions in the Austin office of NVIDIA, a pioneer in accelerated computing and AI.

The diversity of backgrounds, professions and experiences with Baylor adds strength to the work of the Board of Regents. Many are alumni, former parents or donors to academic areas, student life initiatives, student scholarships, capital projects and other priorities of the University that reflect their interests and passions.

Budget Approval

The Board approved a $902.4 million University operating budget for 2023-24, an increase of $39.2 million, or 4.5% over last year. The budget aligns with Baylor’s five-year comprehensive resource plan through 2027 and includes investments in faculty and staff; faith and character formation; student success and well-being; strategic capital investments for current and future competitiveness; and prioritizing financial strength and stewardship, including investments in reserves and infrastructure.

On Campus And In the Classroom

Three renovation projects were approved by the Board including phase 1 renovations of the Allen and Dawson Residence Halls, part of the long-term plan to update all campus residences (expected to begin May 2024, completed by Fall 2025); design and construction of Honors College office spaces in the Draper Academic Building (work began this summer); and design and construction of new spaces at Baylor Law School, including the student resource center, administrative and alumni development suites, and flexible spaces for current use and future growth (work began this summer, expected completion in December 2023).

In addition, the Board approved two new degree programs. The Physician Assistant Studies program will be housed in the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences and will provide students additional graduate opportunities while welcoming new, experienced faculty scholars to Baylor. The new five-year B.S./M.S. degree in biology of global health will live in the Department of Biology at Baylor, and it is a collaboration with the Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and its National School of Tropical Medicine (NSTM).

New Baptist Student Center

The Board approved a Memorandum of Understanding between Baylor and the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) to convey property near campus at South 4th Street and Daughtrey Avenue for the BGCT to build a Baptist Student Center. The BGCT will be responsible for building and maintaining the facility, and Baylor is pleased to be a part of creating a new opportunity for Baylor students, faculty and staff to develop greater community and further their spiritual development.

President’s Report

In her regular report to the Board in May, President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., introduced the launch of the University’s new Strategic Planning Group (SPG). The July retreat featured an SPG listening session with the Board. The Baylor Family will have an opportunity to participate in the process either through one of the listening sessions or by providing feedback through an online survey form. The SPG is charged with presenting Baylor’s new strategic plan to the President’s Council for approval in April 2024 and Board affirmation in May 2024.

“As we near the end of Illuminate, it is exciting to see the many ways our University has been transformed during the past five-plus years, from R1 designation to dozens of new endowed faculty positions to $1.3 billion given by the Baylor Family and friends to the Give Light campaign. Baylor truly has been blessed,” President Livingstone said. “However, it is vitally important that we maintain, if not accelerate, the incredible momentum of the University and continue the good stewardship of all that has been bestowed to Baylor. We look forward to considering together as a campus community what the next chapter in our University’s strategic planning process will be beyond Illuminate in our ongoing efforts to be recognized as a preeminent Christian research university.”