Nancy W. Brickhouse, PhD, was named University Provost Feb. 27 to help lead Baylor toward the goal of becoming the preeminent Christian research university.
Brickhouse, BA ’82, takes office in her new role May 1. She intentionally selected that date to arrive before the end of the spring semester to begin meeting deans and faculty and planning further implementation of Illuminate.
“I am deeply honored to be selected to lead Baylor’s academic endeavors at such an exciting time in the history of Baylor,” Brickhouse said. “I look forward to working with the faculty, administration and Board of Regents to achieve Baylor’s rightful place in higher education as a distinguished Christian research university.”
As Baylor’s chief academic officer, Brickhouse will oversee the University’s colleges and schools, research enterprise, University Libraries and centers and institutes.
“The world needs Baylor and needs Baylor to be a voice at the table, a Christian voice, in some of the most challenging problems of the day,” she said. “In a time where we have the greatest wealth ever known, we don’t have great happiness and well-being, we don’t necessarily have stronger communities.
“This is a very challenging time regarding how we build communities, and I think that Baylor has the opportunity to play a role in checking that conversation. When I think about technology and the kind of data that we can collect on people … having access to all this data raises a lot of ethical concerns, as well. It is important to have Baylor as a great research university showing the way for the ethical use of technology and for data analytics.”
Brickhouse wants to be sure students are included in the process.
“Our students are the heart of the institution, and engaging them in these big questions of the day, and showing them an exemplar of excellence in Christian education is something that I find inspirational,” she said.
Brickhouse previously served as provost at Saint Louis University (SLU), a Jesuit research university with 8,000 undergraduate students and 6,000 graduate students at its main campus in St. Louis. During her tenure, she had a key role in repositioning SLU’s finance, operations and academic endeavors to meet a rapidly changing higher education landscape.
Her time at SLU included the development of university-wide undergraduate learning outcomes and strengthened support for teaching quality. Brickhouse also initiated a robust portfolio of faculty development programs, including those designed to support women faculty and others historically underrepresented at the full professor rank and in academic leadership positions.
In terms of research, she overhauled SLU’s research organization into a service-oriented, faculty-centric unit, which led to a 9 percent increase in research expenditures in the first year of the new organization.
Brickhouse also created a task force to create a plan for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) on the SLU campus. This effort led to the programming of a new Interdisciplinary Science and Engineering Building, as well as the modernization of other research facilities and increased science teaching capacity.
She is a tenured professor of education and a nationally recognized scholar with more than $5 million in external grant funding. Brickhouse graduated from Baylor magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, going on to earn a master’s degree in chemistry and a doctorate in science education from Purdue University.
Prior to her appointment as SLU’s provost in 2015, Brickhouse served in several senior administrative positions during 27 years of service and leadership at the University of Delaware. Her stint at UD included time as deputy provost, interim provost — for which she received special recognition from the UD Board of Trustees for her exemplary service — deputy dean of the College of Education and Human Development, and director of the School of Education.
“The provost position is the one that is closest to the faculty and the students, and that’s why I love the role and why I feel so blessed to be asked to fulfill that role at Baylor, a place that has meant so much to me both personally and professionally,” Brickhouse said.