Calling it a "watershed moment" in Baylor's history, President Robert B. Sloan Jr. announced at a news conference Feb. 22 a spate of actions taken by the Board of Regents at its February meeting.
With an eye toward 2012, the board authorized creation of a new Honors College and approved the issuance of up to $200 million in bonds to fund construction of a $103 million science building (see story on page 28), a 1,200-car parking garage/office building, additional student housing and information technology upgrades. The board also approved an updated campus master plan. All are imperatives of Baylor 2012, the 10-year vision that calls for Baylor to enter the top tier of American universities in the next decade.
"Creation of the Honors College and construction of the much-needed science building will send a clear signal that Baylor is serious about achieving the Baylor 2012 imperatives and realizing its goal of joining the ranks of America's top universities," Dr. Sloan said.
The Honors College, Baylor's 10th academic division, will include the University's 53-year-old Honors program, University Scholars, Baylor Interdisciplinary Core and a proposed great texts program. It also will include an office of national and international scholarships to assist Baylor students in applying for Rhodes, Fulbright, Marshall, Truman, Goldwater, Rotary and other prestigious scholarships for postbaccalaureate study. A nationwide search for the Honor College dean began this spring.
The Honors College will be located in Morrison Constitution Hall, former home of the Baylor Law School. Regents approved a $2.5 million renovation of the 59,000-square-foot facility, which also will house offices and classrooms for the philosophy, classics and modern foreign languages departments, as well as space for student retention, the Center for Christian Ethics, the Institute for Faith and Learning and Baylor's Graduate School.
The new parking garage/office facility will be at Dutton Avenue and University Parks Drive on land currently occupied by the University-owned Baylor Landing Apartments, which will be razed this summer. The new structure will include 30,000 square feet of office space for Baylor academic, information technology and other administrative departments.
The updated campus master plan that the regents adopted was developed by F&S Partners of Dallas and the SmithGroup JJR of Washington, D.C. Included in it are several new residential villages that will increase the on-campus student population from 33 percent to 50 percent. The board will consider specific housing proposals at upcoming meetings. The first new residential life facility should be completed by fall 2004.
In other action, the board approved $2.1 million in improvements to the Baylor Marina pool facility, including a new 5,000-square-foot structure featuring men's and women's locker rooms, offices, a classroom, a retractable roof for the pool, new decking and a rebuilt parking lot.