David Garland: New Year's Greetings from Baylor University

January 6, 2017
Dear Baylor Family,

We welcome 2017 with a renewed spirit of hope and commitment. Baylor University has a rich heritage as an institution of higher education serving the world for more than 170 years, and this legacy serves as a strong foundation for our continued work together. We turn our faces to the future as we prepare for the return of our almost 17,000 students on Monday, the first day of spring semester classes. Each semester brings a new beginning for these young men and women as they pursue their education — and a new beginning for each of us as we love and support them along their journeys.

We give thanks for the unwavering support of so many alumni and friends and to the faculty and staff members who continuously support and serve our students. The Baylor Family has many members, each with his or her unique gifts and enriching perspectives. We are made strong by our diversity and our love for one another, and we are blessed with the capacity to take bold steps forward through the shared labor of our hands and hearts.

A Financially Strong Institution

Baylor stands in excellent financial health as we begin the new year. This is due to the remarkably generous financial support of alumni and friends and the careful stewardship and investment of resources by our University leadership over many years.

A comparison of a few key financial indicators for the 2017 fiscal year makes this strength clear. First, total operating revenues are projected to exceed expenses for the fiscal year, even after accounting for unbudgeted expenses. These projections include budgeted merit raises for faculty and staff, a commitment we believe honors the hard work and dedication of those who invest in the lives of our students each and every day.

Second, Baylor continues to enrich the student experience, prioritizing spending aimed at advancing our mission. Among these priorities are the development and support of innovative programs and hiring of outstanding faculty and staff who have committed their careers to teaching and scholarship and to preparing men and women for worldwide leadership and service. Through the first six months of this year, investment in instructional expenditures and student services has increased more than $8.5 million over last year.

Finally, gifts and private grants to Baylor have increased 15 percent over the same time last year. Baylor’s alumni, parents and friends are enthusiastically coming alongside us and investing in new opportunities.

A Growing Interest in Baylor

There is, perhaps, no stronger sign of institutional strength than student enrollment. At Baylor, we have been truly blessed with record demand and strong enrollment in recent years. During this fiscal year, we have seen an increase of over 20,000 prospective students inquiring about the possibility of attending the University — an 11 percent rise from last year’s inquiries. In addition, our total number of applicants for Fall 2017 (43,094) is up three percent compared to last year.

Demand for our growing graduate programs is also on the rise. Over the last 10 years, we have seen a 40 percent increase in applications to Baylor’s Graduate School. Entering graduate students are more academically prepared than ever before with candidate GRE scores higher than this same period last year.

In short, interest in Baylor has never been greater. I attribute this increase to Baylor’s unrelenting attention to academic excellence and character formation from a Christian perspective. We continue to attract remarkably gifted students.

Supporting Students’ Success

We also are striving to help students find their place in productive, rewarding professions. This has been a particular focus at Baylor for several years, with our strategic vision, Pro Futuris, establishing a goal of raising the placement rate of graduating students to 90 percent by 2018.

Today, more Baylor graduates than ever before are finding jobs or starting a graduate school program after their time at Baylor has concluded. The undergraduate placement rate in 2016 increased for the fourth straight year, rising to 86.5 percent. That mark represents a 20-point increase from this time four years ago.

Several initiatives have supported success in this area. The University has invested in a talented and dedicated Career and Professional Development (CPD) staff and has committed additional resources to provide programs that encourage students, from their first semester on campus, to develop a detailed plan for finding a job or graduate program after they have earned their degrees. CPD staff members also help students seek internships and other opportunities and provide resources like resume writing workshops and job interview coaching. Additionally, the CPD staff has developed a means for alumni to utilize resources, such as job databases, job fairs and alumni mentors, even after they have left campus.

For Our Students’ Well-being

The well-being and safety of our students are at the heart of our efforts to help students achieve success in their academic pursuits and throughout their lives. In the year ahead, we will continue to make improvements in the implementation of Title IX protocols and policies, awareness and education, centralized reporting and resolution, and support and advocacy for those who encounter interpersonal violence.

We aspire to place Baylor at the pinnacle of Title IX programs in American higher education, making our policies and conduct in this key area a model for how to create a culture on campus that is characterized by dignity and respect for others.

As is the case at any institution of higher education, our success depends upon having our eyes focused on a clear polestar toward which we are traveling. At Baylor, this shining light is our mission — to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.

As members of the Baylor Family, we are united by Christ’s love. And as we strive on a daily basis to serve our students and the broken world around us, we are bound together by an acknowledgement that what is most important is the one God we serve. As we read in Matthew, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (6:33)

We will continue seeking God’s guidance this year, and we are grateful for His many blessings. Thank you for your love of and commitment to Baylor University.

Sincerely,

David Garland
Interim President

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