Baylor Board of Regents Amend By-Laws Permitting Some Fellow Christians to Serve on Governing BoardFeb. 11, 2011
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Board approves establishment of Baptist Studies Center for Research, increasing scholarships for children of Baptist ministers and hiring architectural firm for new residential complex
At its meeting today in Dallas, the Baylor University Board of Regents voted to amend the university's by-laws to allow up to 25 percent of the board to be composed of fellow Christians who are active members of a church in a historic Christian tradition other than Baptist. At least 75 percent of the board will continue to be comprised of regents who are active members of Baptist churches.
In other board action, Baylor regents approved the establishment of the Baptist Studies Center for Research within the department of religion in Baylor's College of Arts and Sciences. The center will create a vehicle for Baylor faculty to highlight the university's Baptist heritage and enhance its contributions to Baptist scholarship.
In addition, regents endorsed a plan to increase scholarships awarded to the children of Baptist ministers and missionaries by more than 300 percent beginning in the fall of 2011. This program, expected to award more than half a million dollars annually, will provide support to encourage the children of Baptist ministers and missionaries to attend Baylor.
Baylor's board also approved hiring an architectural firm to begin the design process on the proposed East Village Residential Community.
The change in the by-laws is recognition of the changing demographics of Baylor's constituencies as a strong Christian commitment is expressed in a variety of denominational and nondenominational Church traditions and affiliations.
"As Baylor University plans for the launch of a new strategic plan that will help guide the university in the years ahead, we recognize that there are, within the Baylor family and outside of it, deeply committed fellow Christians who share Baylor's mission, vision and core theological principles but who are not currently affiliated in their church life with a Baptist congregation," said R. Dary Stone, JD '77, chair of the board. "We will deepen our purpose and expand our reach by engaging these individuals who have high regard for Baylor and want to contribute to her future promise and prosperity."
The change to the by-laws includes a provision that assigns exclusive voting rights to Baptist regents on certain board actions that apply to the religious affiliation qualifications of regents and theological matters of Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary.
"Baylor's commitment to its Baptist heritage and the traditions that have set it apart for more than 166 years will be embodied in the Christian convictions and demonstrations of faith that characterize the fellow Christians who will be appointed to Baylor's board of regents," said Baylor Regent Ramiro Peña, who also is pastor of Christ the King Baptist Church in Waco.
Baylor will continue to celebrate its historic Texas Baptist heritage and its powerful connection to Texas Baptist life, including the introduction of the enhanced scholarship program for the children of Baptist pastors and missionaries. Committed to maintaining its cherished historic partnership with the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT), Baylor regents will continue efforts to engage the BGCT regarding the selection of future board members and will give due and careful consideration to suggestions from the BGCT about prospective candidates for Baylor's board of regents.
"Baylor maintains a strong and unwavering dedication to advancing the principles and tenets of the Baptist faith which have been and will always remain a hallmark of a Baylor University education," said Baylor President Ken Starr. "We will continue to operate within the Christian-oriented aims and ideals of Baptists."
The regent-approved Baptist Studies Center for Research at Baylor will continue the Baptist story as part of the university's mission , support research projects for Baylor faculty and encourage students to learn about Baptist identity, said Dr. Bill Bellinger, chairman of the department of religion at Baylor.
"We think Baylor is the logical place for this center," Bellinger said. While some other Baptist universities house collections, "they've often been specifically tied to church relations or undergraduate curriculum, and there really hasn't been something comprehensive and tied to research. We'll have a new layer of accessibility for researchers."
The Baptist Studies Center for Research at Baylor will create and maintain an internationally-recognized depository of significant denominational papers, serve as a resource for visiting scholars, who in return will be part of a prominent lecture series at Baylor, and promote an emphasis in Baptist studies through Baylor's Ph.D. program in religion, the only doctoral program in religion offered at a Baptist university.
The board also approved a recommendation to hire an architectural firm to design new student housing called the East Village Residential Community. The project will provide housing for 1,000 students and include retail space. The facility will help achieve the university's Vision 2012 goal of having at least 50 percent of Baylor undergraduates living on campus.
Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275