Historic Gift Propels Baylor's Vision

Historic Gift Propels Baylor's Vision

A record-breaking $100 million gift to Baylor is accelerating the realization of Illuminate, the University’s strategic plan to enhance all aspects of a transformational Baylor education by investing in teaching, research and service to become a preeminent Christian research university. 

Made anonymously to the $1.1 billion Give Light comprehensive philanthropic campaign, the gift is the largest current contribution in University history. 

Only three other institutions of higher education in Texas have received a gift of $100 million or more. Nationwide, only 38 gifts made to higher education institutions over the past three years have totaled or surpassed this amount.

“When you get a gift like this, I think it’s a significant signal that we have people that love the University deeply,” Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., said. “They’re deeply committed to our mission and they care about the direction that we’re going and want to help us to accomplish that mission and to accomplish the vision that we have as we go forward.”

The transformational gift advances the full spectrum of Illuminate by providing for the people, programs and places that will animate the plan well into the future. 

Driving the total funds raised by Baylor this fiscal year to more than $240 million, the most ever, the bold investment is an affirmation of Baylor’s vision that will galvanize further support. To date, the Give Light campaign has surpassed $700 million, with almost 57,000 gifts received. 

Elevating the Academic Enterprise

A significant portion of the gift will impact faculty, students and research by creating a matching fund to launch the Baylor Academic Challenge. 

The program will match dollar-for-dollar significant additional gifts ranging from
$1.5 million to $3 million each from other donors to create up to 17 endowed faculty positions. Baylor currently has five endowed faculty positions funded at $3 million or more. 

The establishment of an endowed faculty position creates a permanent legacy of support for Baylor. 

Endowment assets are invested, with a portion of the fund’s value distributed annually to support its designated purpose. Earnings in excess of distributions remain in the fund, fostering its growth and contributions to the University in perpetuity.

The recruitment and retention of exceptional, nationally renowned faculty is paramount to the successful implementation of the strategic plan. 

Endowed faculty positions are prestigious and permanent, allowing Baylor to compete globally for outstanding Christian scholars capable of developing top-ranked programs that produce groundbreaking research and learning experiences.

This investment in human capital advanced by the Baylor Academic Challenge will yield exponential returns in the life of the University. 

The faculty leaders who fill endowed positions bring subject matter expertise, research experience and professional connections in academia and industry. 

These attributes attract talented students, accomplished colleagues and grant funding — essential resources for equipping labs and executing programs that elevate Baylor’s academic enterprise, driving continued investment and interest.

The acceleration of first-rate faculty scholarship expands student participation in discoveries that greatly benefit society. 

Augmenting Baylor’s cutting-edge research will help secure its desired designation as a Carnegie Research University with “very high research activity” (R1), a distinction that attracts the best and brightest students and faculty and increases access to grant funding opportunities for advancing the University’s national and international impact. 

Today’s undergraduates expect opportunities to participate in meaningful research and discovery. Faculty endowment allows active scholars to engage with students through top-tier research and learning experiences that enhance the appeal, relevance and value of a Baylor education. 

Servant-leaders prepared for careers in existing and emerging fields across industry, academia and the medical professions, Baylor graduates serve as ambassadors for the University around the world.

Courting Excellence

A Basketball Legacy

A portion of the historic gift launches fundraising for a new basketball pavilion to be built along the Brazos River between Baylor Ballpark and the Ferrell Center. 

As a state-of-the-art venue supporting elite competition at the national level, the $105 million basketball-only facility aims to honor and perpetuate the winning legacy of the nationally ranked men’s and women’s basketball programs. 

“We want to create a facility that is great for our fans and provides a first-class fan experience, but also something that’s great for our student-athletes and helps us continue to build a legacy of winning championships,” Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mack B. Rhoades IV said. “When you think about this basketball pavilion, we certainly want it to be the best in the country.”

The basketball pavilion will significantly enhance the home court experience for Baylor student-athletes and fans. The arena space will accommodate about 7,500 spectators in a configuration that places Baylor fans closer to the court to maximize their engagement and energy. 

The facility will house separate locker rooms, practice gyms, team lounges and office suites for both programs, as well as shared athletic medicine and athletic
performance areas — an array of well-appointed amenities that expands Baylor’s capacity to recruit and support top student-athletes.

“The big thing nowadays in facilities is proximity,” men’s basketball head coach Scott Drew said. “In new facilities, fans are on top of you more. You’re not as spread out. The closer, the more noise, the more motivation, and the harder it is to communicate for the other team.”

The Ferrell Center has housed both Baylor basketball programs since opening in 1988. Its dome encloses a space graced by 31 consecutive seasons of collegiate hoops and a steady succession of events — commencements, convocations, lectures, ceremonies, celebrations, competitions and concerts — that are touchstones of campus life. 

As the Bears and Lady Bears basketball programs have grown in prominence and popularity, so too has their need for a dedicated space. That need will be met with construction of the new facility slated to begin when fundraising is complete.

“We needed to get this lead gift first and really be able to now put our stake in the ground and say, ‘Hey, we’re building something brand new,’” Rhoades said.

Women’s basketball head coach Kim Mulkey has led the team to three national championships and four Final Four appearances since 2005 and to a record 19 Big 12 Conference titles. 

Drew has built men’s basketball into one of nine programs to be nationally ranked in each of the last 11 seasons and one of 16 programs to advance to postseason play in every season since 2012, including Baylor’s first postseason tournament title in its 110-year history. 

“We have programs in basketball at Baylor that have done their jobs on the floor,” Mulkey said. “We’ve done something. Scott Drew has done something. Now we have an opportunity to say, ‘Wow, all that hard work, all those great players who played at Baylor really prepared us for this moment.’”

A Boost to Other Sports

When the two basketball programs move to the new pavilion, the Ferrell Center will undergo a $20 million renovation to become the home of Baylor’s nationally ranked volleyball and acrobatics and tumbling programs. 

Both teams currently practice at Rena Marrs McLean Gymnasium, a space also in demand by health, kinesiology and leisure studies classes.

This spring, acrobatics and tumbling won its fifth consecutive national championship. No. 24 Baylor volleyball finished the 2018 season in the NCAA Second Round for the third consecutive season and wrapped up its second-straight Big 12 runner-up finish. 

“It will mean a great deal for our program to be housed in the Ferrell Center,” acrobatics and tumbling head coach Felicia Mulkey said. “The Ferrell Center will give us the space to develop our student-athletes into champions at the highest level while giving them the best student-athlete experience in the country.”

A dedicated practice space at the Ferrell Center will accommodate both programs’ equipment and scheduling needs, maximizing the immense time and talent that the teams bring to their sports on behalf of Baylor. 

The two coaches are anticipating how the efficiency and consistency gained through this capital investment will benefit both programs and provide for long term success. 

“Expanding opportunities for acrobatics and tumbling and volleyball in the Ferrell Center will enhance the holistic experience for our student-athletes,” volleyball head coach Ryan McGuyre said. “This facility will lessen scheduling conflicts due to facility availability, allowing for greater flexibility in practice schedules.”

The reconfiguration plans for the Ferrell Center are in the development stages.

For more information and a video tour of the Baylor Basketball Fieldhouse and other capital projects, visit baylor.edu/givelight/capital.