Elevating BU's Academic Profile

Dr. Nancy Brickhouse
Dr. Nancy Brickhouse

At the regular Fall Faculty Meeting Aug. 28, Baylor officially announced plans to pursue Research 1/Tier 1 (R1/T1) recognition by building on Illuminate, the University’s strategic plan, which will guide Baylor toward joining the nation’s top research universities.

With its foundational Christian mission and a historic reputation for excellence in academics, growth in research is a vital next step for the University, Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., said.

“Baylor University’s vision affirms that the world needs a preeminent research university that is unambiguously Christian, and we are uniquely positioned to achieve this goal by building on Baylor’s historic strengths and strategically investing in new areas of research and service,” Livingstone said. “Through top-tier research, scholarship and external funding support, R1 universities bring their voice to bear in addressing our world’s most meaningful challenges. As Baylor achieves preeminence as a Christian research university, it enables researchers from throughout the University to infuse the quest for solutions, at the highest levels, with Baylor’s distinct voice and Christian mission.”

Illuminate [baylor.edu/illuminate] provides the framework and commitment to investment over the next decade that will guide the institution toward becoming a top national research university. 

“By strengthening scholarship, deepening learning and enhancing teaching, these initiatives will support our commitment to excellence in undergraduate education and growth in graduate education,” Livingstone said. “Collaboration is vital to finding solutions to the immense challenges facing our world. Baylor’s Illuminate initiatives are developed around areas where existing collaboration is yielding results and where continued work and additional investment will elevate the University’s R1/T1 quest.”

From R2 to R1

Today, 130 American colleges and universities are classified by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education as R1, which are doctoral-granting institutions with the “highest research activity.” Baylor is among the 131 schools currently classified as R2 — doctoral institutions with “higher research activity.” Tier 1 universities aspire to the highest levels of excellence not only in teaching and research, but throughout the university in services to students, the arts, athletics and more.

Dr. Nancy Brickhouse, BA ’82, University Provost — participating in her first Fall Faculty Meeting since becoming Baylor’s chief academic officer in May — reported on progress on the implementation of Illuminate and outlined goals for Baylor’s university-wide effort to grow into a preeminent Christian research university and a beacon of leadership in American higher education.

Some important areas of momentum that the provost shared included graduating 58 research doctorates this summer, the most for any graduation in Baylor’s history, and enrollment growth in the University’s graduate and professional online degree programs, which nearly quadrupled in a little more than a year. Moving from R2 to R1 is a “tremendous leap,” Brickhouse noted, but the University community has joined together to elevate Baylor to the top level of institutional achievement.

“I believe we’re capable of achieving this goal in striving to fulfill Baylor’s full potential and in keeping with our historically distinctive mission,” Brickhouse said. “It will take years of unwavering, strategic effort as a University and community of alumni and friends to achieve. Recognition for faculty research and Baylor’s collective scholarly and creative enterprise will be the key to our success.”

Among the most immediate goals for this year, Brickhouse noted, is securing eight new endowed faculty chairs as part of the Baylor Academic Challenge program. Created as part of an anonymous $100 million gift in support of the Give Light campaign, the Academic Challenge maximizes Baylor’s investments in promising research and academic programs by matching dollar-for-dollar significant additional gifts from other donors, increasing the number of endowed faculty positions and helping Baylor generate additional funding to sustain and grow teaching and research in key areas.

“Growing in our capacity and impact as a research institution strengthens our presence as God’s hands in the world. The research our faculty, staff and students are undertaking is being pursued in order to make a difference in the world — to reflect Christ’s compassion for our fellow human beings and his desire for our welfare and personal flourishing,” Brickhouse said. “We have found that distinguished scholars from top universities around the country who believe in Baylor’s Christian mission are very eager to come to Baylor, where they can teach and continue their research at a faith-based university.”