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January 11, 2005
Dear Baylor Alumni and Friends,
As we approach the end of 2004 and the midpoint of our academic year, I wanted to take a few minutes to convey to you some of the excitement we are experiencing at Baylor. During our December Commencement this Saturday, we will add more than 800 men and women to our alumni ranks. They graduate from a student body that, on the whole, is the brightest, most engaged group of students I have seen in my decade-long tenure as president of Baylor. This year's freshman class, which is the most academically talented, most diverse entering class in Baylor's 160-year history, enhances an already strong student body. In the area of academics we are experiencing a great year.
The academic environment has been profoundly impacted this year with the addition of more than one million square feet of new facilities, including the spectacular 500,000-square-feet Baylor Sciences Building. This state-of-the-art facility is drawing praise from science educators throughout the nation. Project Kaleidoscope, a national effort directed toward transforming the learning environment for students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, said in a recent letter to the University that the building mirrors their philosophy that learning is stronger in environments that enable connections among the sciences, support diverse styles of learning and teaching and increase opportunities for student/faculty research. Project Kaleidescope declared the facility a benchmark to guide the work of planning teams on other campuses. It is so energizing to walk through the building and see thousands of students interacting with one another and with their faculty mentors. (Approximately 6,000 students, faculty and staff pass through the building on a daily basis.) The building is truly fulfilling the purpose for which it was designed and constructed.
We also moved 600 students into the new North Village Residential Community this fall. It is the first on-campus residence hall to be built in almost 40 years. When we began accepting deposits for the new facility last fall, we quickly filled the North Village to capacity and ended up with a waiting list of 263 students. Among the North Village's residents are 80 students participating in the School of Engineering and Computer Science's Living-Learning Center, which also houses faculty and classrooms in the facility. We also opened the Honors College Living-Learning Center in the historic Alexander and Memorial Residence Halls this fall. More than 370 Honors College students are living and studying in these facilities, which also feature classrooms and faculty offices.
All of these campus additions are designed to achieve one objective: enhance the learning environment for our students. That is why over the last three years we have added more than 70 new faculty positions and lowered our student-faculty ratio from 19-1 to just under 17-1. Over the same period we have added an Honors College that is attracting an increasing number of outstanding students from across the state and nation. Our commitment to provide an academically sound and integrated education earned Baylor the only "A" ranking out of 50 top American universities -- including Ivy League, Big Ten and Big 12 institutions -- in a study released last spring by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni.
Our students also are developing social and leadership skills through more than 300 organizations. These include groups such as Greek life organizations, honor societies, intramurals, religious organizations and special interest groups of all types. I often work out at the McLane Student Life Center and always leave impressed by the energy and enthusiasm of the students I encounter there. Sue and I also walk the Bear Trail several times a week, which gives us an opportunity to engage students in a spontaneous manner. We consistently find students who are enthusiastic about their Baylor experience.
Baylor offers something truly unique in American higher education -- a rigorous academic experience grounded in Christian commitment. Our outstanding faculty and staff are dedicated to providing students with an unparalleled experience that not only prepares them for rewarding careers or graduate school, but also for a life of service.
Thank you for your support of Baylor University. We value every Baylor alum and recognize that our graduates are a living legacy which constantly enriches the life and influence of this institution. It is exciting to be part of a venture that truly has a transformative impact not only on the lives of individual students here and now, but also influences our world through the contributions they will make after they leave Baylor.
Sue and I pray that you have a blessed Christmas season.
Robert B. Sloan, Jr.