Regents approve joint degree, infrastructure updates

A new joint master's degree program links the faculties, resources and classes of Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary and the School of Education.

In July, the Baylor Board of Regents approved the master of divinity and master of science in education/master of arts (MDiv/MSEd or MDiv/MA) joint degree program. It is designed to prepare students as ministers who can employ the latest educational philosophies, strategies and methods in congregational ministry environments, as well as in public and private educational settings.

The program is expected to begin in summer 2017. It is the fifth MDiv joint degree at Baylor along with the MDiv/MM (music), MDiv/MSW (social work), MDiv/MBA (business) and MDiv/JD (law).

The board also approved $2 million to improve the electrical utility and technology infrastructure along Seventh Street on campus. The work will begin this fall and be completed in spring 2017.

Lowest Percentage Increase in More Than 20 Years for Tuition, Fees

Regents voted to increase undergraduate tuition for the fall 2017 and spring 2018 academic year by 4.25 percent, the lowest percentage increase in more than 20 years and well below the average percentage increase over the last 26 years.

With its flat-rate tuition structure, Baylor's tuition will be $39,610 for the 2017-18 academic year (or $19,805 per fall and spring semesters), while the general student fee will be $4,180 for the 2017-2018 academic year (or $2,090 per fall and spring semesters). Tuition for graduate and professional programs will increase similarly.

The board continues to work actively to reduce tuition increases and bolster affordability initiatives by allocating an additional $15.2 million for merit and need-based scholarships for the 2017-2018 academic year and lowering the premium to opt in to the university's Guaranteed Tuition Option (GTO). By participating in the GTO, students can lock in a tuition rate--which is initially higher than the regular rate--that will not increase over the student's 48-month enrollment period. The GTO tuition, beginning in fall 2017, will be $41,060, which results in a reduced average percentage increase year over year and an overall cost savings at the end of the enrollment period.

"The board is fervently committed to nurturing an environment where academic rigor, spiritual life and character formation can flourish, but also one that provides access and affordability for families and their students who dream of pursuing a high-quality and distinctive Baylor degree," said Ronald D. Murff, BBA '75, chair of the Board of Regents. "The university is providing more financial assistance to students than at any other time in our history, and we are working hard to attract, retain and graduate young people who are guided by their faith and strengthened by their Baylor education to make a difference in our diverse world as global citizens and leaders."

Baylor's tuition and required fees continue to remain lower than peer private institutions in Texas, including Rice, Southern Methodist University and Texas Christian University, and well below those of most private universities of comparable size outside of Texas, such as Boston University, Northeastern University, New York University, Cornell University and the University of Southern California.

Holmes Named University General Counsel

Christopher W. Holmes, who had served as interim Baylor general counsel since February, was appointed to the post in August.

He succeeds Baylor's longtime General Counsel Charles D. Beckenhauer, who died July 5 after a lengthy illness.

Holmes earned his bachelor's degree in political science from Baylor in 1988 and his law degree with honors from the University of Texas at Austin in 1991.

He joined Baylor in October 2002 as assistant general counsel and was named associate general counsel in December 2012. Prior to Baylor, he was general counsel at Dallas Baptist University and an attorney with Cowles and Thompson P.C. in Dallas.

Holmes serves on the board of directors of the National Association of College and University Attorneys (NACUA). In 2011, he received NACUA's First Decade Award, which is given to an NACUA member with 10 or fewer years of service who has provided outstanding service to NACUA and to the practice of higher education law.

Korpi receives Excellence in Education Medal

Dr. Michael Korpi, professor of film and digital media, has been awarded the first Excellence in Education Medal Award from the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE).

The new Excellence in Education Medal Award honors an individual who makes innovative contributions to educational programs that teach the technologies of motion pictures, television or other imaging sciences.

A committee of SMPTE members awarded Korpi with the Excellence in Education Medal Award for his innovative teaching methods and for creating joint multidisciplinary courses that encourage teamwork and cross-disciplinary training.

Some of Korpi's recent interdisciplinary classes covered emerging technologies, including augmented reality, virtual reality, digital cinema, drones and light-field cameras and displays. Another class focused on "companion apps," or software on mobile devices that accompanies entertainment content like video games or television shows.

"In my view, the world of work for Baylor graduates, regardless of their major, will be about critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork and effective communication. Including multidisciplinary work in the curriculum is vital in preparing students for this," Korpi said.

"Of course we will always need specialists with a great depth of knowledge, but in order to solve real-world problems we also need leaders and managers who have breadth of knowledge and expertise so that they can lead or manage most effectively."

Gordon selected as National Institutes of Health Study Section Member

Dr. Paul Gordon, chair and professor of Baylor's health, human performance and recreation department in the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, has been selected as a member of the National Institutes of Health's Common Fund study section review.

The NIH Common Fund, started in 2006, is designed to help fund health and biomedical research in high-priority research areas. Study section members are responsible for reviewing grant applications relevant to the Common Fund’s current initiatives, and members are selected based on their previous training and research.

"I have served as an NIH study section member in the past, and it is truly an honor and indeed a blessing to be considered an expert by the most prestigious U.S. health and biomedical agency," Gordon said. "In the present situation, it is exciting to work with other experts across the U.S. to set the stage for achieving landmark scientific discoveries that will empower the future of health care."

In fall 2015, NIH announced the development of a Common Fund focused on researching the health benefits of physical activity. The idea is to establish a molecular map that "will help us understand how physical activity translates into better health," Gordon said. The study section members are reviewing program grants from clinics seeking to carry out human data collection for the project.

Reichenstein testifies for the U.S. Senate’s Special Committee on Aging

Dr. William Reichenstein, professor and The Pat & Thomas R. Powers Chair of Investment in Management, provided testimony to the United States Senate's Special Committee on Aging in August.

He discussed why one-size-fits all claiming strategies for Social don't work for American couples.

Contrary to popular belief, the end of the "file and suspend" strategy has made claiming Social Security optimally even more complicated for Americans.

"Differences in age, relative sizes of PIA, three groups of rules based on certain ages, and more make Social Security claiming complicated for Americans," Reichenstein said. "The complex nature of Social Security rules means there are no rules of thumb for claiming benefits optimally."

The Special Committee on Aging was first established in 1961 as a temporary committee and was granted permanent status in 1977. The Special Committee is dedicated to discussion and debate on matters relating to older Americans.

Baylor sophomore crowned Miss Texas

Caroline Carothers, a sophomore education major from San Antonio, was crowned Miss Texas in July. A featured Golden Girl baton twirler with the Golden Wave Band, she used her twirling to win the talent award in the preliminary contests. The education major is working to become a middle school math teacher, and she's using her platform, "With + Math = I Can," to promote an initiative to change students' attitudes about math. She's also helped raise thousands of dollars for breast cancer research through the "Twirling for the Cure" campaign.

Carothers is the second Baylor Bear and the second Golden Girl in five years to represent the state of Texas in the Miss America pageant, the first being Danae Couch, BA '10, in 2012. Like Couch, Carothers will receive a large scholarship from the program and travel all across Texas, using her title to impact community service matters and address contemporary issues. She was one of seven finalists in the Miss America 2017 contest Sept. 11.