Survey Shows County Residents' Perceptions About Baylor
Eighty-nine percent rate university favorably
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McLennan County residents generally view Baylor University positively and appreciate the contributions of a major university to a local community.
That is the overall finding of a recently released survey of 1,137 residents of McLennan County conducted by the university's Center for Community Research and Development (CCRD) late last year.
"This poll measured the actions, knowledge and attitudes of McLennan County residents toward Baylor University," said Dr. Charles T. Tolbert, CCRD director and chair of the sociology department. "The aim was to reach beyond the boundaries of Baylor to gauge what the general public thinks."
Survey results show that a combined 89 percent of respondents rate the university favorably - 43 percent say "very favorably" and 46 percent, "somewhat favorably."
More than half of the survey respondents - 55 percent - had no connection to Baylor, Tolbert said. The remaining 45 percent were current students, alumni or employees, or were family members of current students or alumni. All were chosen randomly and interviewed by telephone, and Baylor was not identified as the poll's sponsor.
"Our statistical survey model means the data obtained should accurately represent the approximately 169,000 adults residing in McLennan County's 79,000 households," Tolbert added.
Respondents overwhelmingly endorse the positive contributions of a major university to a local community. Ninety-seven percent say it is important for the community to have opportunities for local students to attend a top-ranked university. Ninety-five percent think a world-class university is important to the community and it is important to have access to university facilities and programs. University research that improves the local community is important to 94 percent. Opportunities to attend world-class music and cultural events and major collegiate athletic events are important to 92 percent of respondents.
A majority of respondents value Baylor's contributions to the community, with 84 percent citing the university's role in providing arts and cultural opportunities for citizens and in economic development for the region. Eighty-three percent cited the university as a provider of educational opportunities for top student from the area; 82 percent noted the community pride generated through athletic excellence; and 81 percent cited access to facilities and programs.
Not surprisingly, respondents in Central Waco, where Baylor is located, are the most familiar with Baylor, with more than 90 percent saying they are "very familiar" or "somewhat familiar" with the university. The least familiar respondents live in South Waco.
Familiarity decreases slightly with age, and respondents with higher incomes and higher levels of education report being more familiar.
When asked the question, "Overall, how would you rate Baylor University," Central Wacoans were joined by respondents in the Mart Area and the McGregor-Moody area in rating Baylor as "very favorable." South Wacoans and West Wacoans rate the university overall as "somewhat favorably."
Only 2 percent of the total surveyed - 27 respondents county-wide - rate the university "very unfavorably."
While all populations contributed to the overall favorable ratings of the University, black respondents give Baylor somewhat less favorable ratings than do Hispanic and white respondents. "While we are pleased this study shows a positive response to Baylor among all our neighbors, we recognize that there are areas where we need to make improvements," said John M. Barry, vice president for marketing and communications. "Strengthening our outreach to the African-American community in Waco is something we are eager to do."
Some surveying of this type was carried out by Baylor in the past, but this is the first such survey of its type conducted within the past decade, and Tolbert said ideally, this type of survey would be conducted every other year.
"Our hope is that these numbers will continue to trend favorably as we increase our focus on community relations," Barry said. "We want those 'somewhat favorable' responses to move into the 'very favorable' category and we intend to work hard to earn that recognition in our community.
Contact: Jill Scoggins, Assistant Vice President of Media Communications, 254-710-1964