Three Alumni Gifts Lift BU Academics

Three Alumni Gifts Lift BU Academics

During the fall semester, Baylor received three significant gifts from alumni who used their philanthropy to honor loved ones and support programs that connect to their passions.

Law School

In September, the University announced a $2 million gift from Sherri W. and Robert “Bobby” L. Patton Jr. of Fort Worth that will enhance the legal writing and pro bono programs in Baylor Law School. 

Their gift will help underwrite two programs that already distinguish Baylor Law among its peers, while also providing student scholarship assistance.

Established in honor and in memory of Sherri Wallace Patton’s father, The Charles E. Wallace Endowed Fund for Legal Writing will support programming in the Law School’s Legal Writing Center to encourage excellence in legal writing. 

The Sherri W. and Robert L. Patton Jr. Endowed Fund for Pro Bono Clinics and Programs will provide overall support for the school’s award-winning pro bono clinics and initiatives.

“Bobby and I know the value of well-reasoned and persuasive writing to the effectiveness and fairness of our nation’s legal system,” Sherri Patton, BSHE ’84, said. “We also believe in the importance of pro bono work and law students’ exposure to it.”

The Pattons’ gift also provides funding to renovate and expand space within the Umphrey Law Center into a needed larger Pro Bono Clinic to serve a growing list of clients.

School of Education

In November, Baylor announced a $2.5 million gift from Lynda and Robert Copple of Frisco that will create The Lynda and Robert Copple Endowed Chair in Christian School Leadership within Baylor’s School of Education. 

The goal is to attract a visionary Christian leader to lay the academic and intellectual foundations of the Center for Christian Education (CCE) and establish the CCE as the preeminent provider of professional development for leaders of Christian schools and for Christian leaders in non-sectarian school settings.

“Our vision is to provide an avenue to assist educators in realizing their full potential. Our experience has shown us that there is a great need for more training and professional development to be made available to Christian educators, especially those in private schools,” Lynda Copple, BSEd ’79, said. “We want to change that, and we believe Baylor is the answer.”

The inaugural holder of The Copple Chair will be a distinguished scholar with a record of deep commitment to high-quality Christian schooling and to the flourishing of Christian leaders across private- and public-school sectors. The Copple Chair will collaborate with the School of Education dean and the CCE executive director to develop a research agenda focused around leadership in Christian school settings and a programmatic agenda for the CCE’s expanded activities.

“Lynda and I have a passion for strengthening Christian leadership throughout educational institutions, ranging from teachers, principals and board members at public and private high schools to deans and other administrators at colleges and universities,” Robert Copple, BBA ’80, MPA ’81, said.

Garland School of Social Work and Truett Seminary

In early December, Baylor announced a gift from David and Shirley Lake of Tyler to create The Lake Family Endowed Chair in Congregational and Community Health at the University. 

The gift will create a joint venture between two of Baylor’s academic units—Diana R. Garland School of Social Work and George W. Truett Theological Seminary—by supporting the work of a distinguished faculty member who will develop and implement a strategic initiative related to congregational and community health and will teach in both academic units.

“Shirley and I have become increasingly aware of the growing need for churches to offer congregational and community health services, which is often currently being unmet,” David Lake, BA ’60, said.

The inaugural holder of the chair will be Dr. Gaynor Yancey, professor and director of the Center for Church and Community Impact in the Garland School of Social Work. Yancey will provide leadership on campus and be a leading voice for congregational and community health within the local community and in churches near and far through teaching and applied research.