Honoring the Gold and Bold
In conjunction with the University’s 175th anniversary celebration, Baylor Regents, administration, alumni and friends recognized several members of the Baylor Family who have excelled in their professions and continue to make a significant impact in their communities.
Kellie Fischer was named Baylor Alumna of the Year, while Max Muncy was named Young Alumnus of the Year. Brenda Hauk was presented the Pro Ecclesia Medal of Service, and Kyle Deaver was awarded the Pro Texana Medal of Service. Additionally, Mark and Paula Hurd were named recipients of the Founders Medal.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback and 2011 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, BA ’10, hosted the Honoring the Gold and Bold event, held Feb. 21 at the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation. Griffin took time to send a congratulatory video message to Muncy, who was unable to attend the event due the beginning of Major League Baseball Spring Training.
Mark and Paula Hurd
Former Oracle Corporation CEO Mark Hurd, BBA ’79, and his wife Paula were named 2020 recipients of the Baylor University Founders Medal. Established in 1969, the Founders Medal is one of the University’s most distinguished awards. It is reserved for men and women whose service and contributions have been unusually significant to the University’s life and future.
Mark Hurd was a member of Oracle’s board of directors and served as vice chair of the Baylor Board of Regents at the time of his death in October 2019. He attended Baylor on a tennis scholarship and earned two varsity letters in the sport. Paula Hurd earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from the University of Texas at Austin in 1984, and she is a Baylor Alumna by Choice. They married in 1990 and have two daughters: Kelly, BBA ’14, and Kathryn.
“It is an honor to have the opportunity to recognize Mark and Paula Hurd — two remarkable members of the Baylor Family — and their many significant contributions to the betterment of Baylor and society,” Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., said. “Their bold vision for strengthening Baylor’s mission as a preeminent Christian research institution has inspired many to come alongside the University to improve the lives of our students and help us set a standard for excellence.”
Mark Hurd began his service on the Baylor Board of Regents in 2014 and was elected vice chair in 2017. He was recognized for his contributions to the University and its tennis program with the 2008 Distinguished Alumnus Award. In 2012, Mark was recipient of the Baylor Legacy Award for his philanthropic and personal involvement with the University. He also received the Baylor Business Legend Award from the Houston Baylor Business Network.
In November 2018, the Hurds gave a lead gift to launch the public phase of Give Light, a $1.1 billion comprehensive philanthropic campaign for the University’s future and for which the Hurds served as campaign co-chairs. Their gift, one of the largest in Baylor history, will create a new entry point to the University — the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center.
Mark and Paula Hurd invested significantly in the growth of Baylor’s tennis program. In 2011, the University’s tennis complex was named the Hurd Tennis Center. The venue named the nation’s best college tennis facility by Tennis Magazine.
The Hurds were honored as part of the inaugural Honoring the Gold and Bold event. Paula Hurd thanked the Baylor Family at the event.
“It would mean so much to him, and it means so much to our entire family,” Paula Hurd said. “Being here, even without Mark standing beside us, feels like home. Mark’s life was full of success, and it was the life lessons he learned at Baylor that served as the foundation for the amazing man he became.”
YOUNG ALUMNUS OF THE YEAR
Professional Baseball Player, Los Angeles Dodgers
Max Muncy strode to the plate at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles shortly before 12:30 a.m. PDT the night of Oct. 26, 2018. He was about to put an end to the longest game in World Series history.
Muncy, who was in his first season with the Dodgers, led off the bottom of the 18th inning with a game-winning home run in a game that started seven hours and 20 minutes earlier.
The Dodgers eventually lost the World Series to the Boston Red Sox in five games, but Muncy’s home run etched his name in baseball lore. The following year, he was a Major League Baseball All-Star and clubbed 35 home runs for the second consecutive season. Prior to the 2020 season, the Dodgers rewarded Muncy’s success, signing the first baseman to a three-year contract extension valued at $26 million.
Muncy was a two-time All-Big 12 Conference selection at Baylor and led the Bears to the 2012 conference title. Following that season, the Oakland Athletics selected Muncy in the fifth round of the MLB First Year Player Draft. He made his Major League debut early in the 2015 season but struggled to a .195 batting average with five home runs in 96 games over two seasons with Oakland.
“When I first got to the big leagues, I wasn’t in a good mental state,” Muncy says. “It wasn’t a good time for me, and I wasn’t having any fun.”
Early in the 2017 season, Muncy signed a minor league contract with Los Angeles and spent the entirety of that season at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He returned to the majors early in 2018 and eventually became a fixture in the Dodgers’ lineup.
“I was able to learn how to be a kid again and have fun on the baseball field,” Muncy says. “With that came a lot of changes in attitude off the field.”
Muncy and his wife Kelly, BSFCS ’13, met while they were students at Baylor and were married two weeks after his historic home run in the 2018 World Series.
“Baylor is a place full of special and extraordinary people,” he says. “I had a lot of great moments with professors. We still have professors check in on us, and they want to know how we’re doing as people. Being named Young Alumnus of the Year is a huge honor for me and my family.”
Muncy says Baylor shaped him as an athlete and as a person.
“Baylor taught me how to be a man and how to care for my family and people around me,” he says. “Baylor prepared me to be on my own, to rely on the resources around me, and to rely on my faith. Without that, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
The Muncys are active with fellow Dodger Justin Turner’s foundation, which helps child trafficking victims and homeless veterans. They also support Kershaw’s Challenge and Casey Live, both of which are run by Dodgers pitcher and Texas native Clayton Kershaw.
“One day, we hope to start a foundation of our own,” Muncy says. “I want to help in the community because I’m going to be retired a lot longer than I’ll be an active player.”
ALUMNA OF THE YEAR
Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer, Texas Rangers Baseball Club
When Kellie Fischer, BA ’95, began college at Baylor, a financial career was nowhere on her horizon, let alone a career working in professional baseball. Fischer, who graduated from Klein Oak High School in Spring, Texas, enrolled at Baylor as a pre-med major. However, those plans changed.
After taking a class in the business school as a sophomore, Fischer changed her major to accounting. Following graduation, she worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers for four years before joining the Texas Rangers Baseball Club in 1999. Six years later, Fischer was named chief financial officer, overseeing financial matters and purchasing. She also serves on the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation Board of Directors.
“I’m still surprised that I’ve worked in sports for 20 years,” Fischer says. “I loved accounting, and it turned out to be somewhat natural for me.”
Fischer has overseen the financial structuring for the construction of Globe Life Field, the Rangers’ $1.25 billion stadium that opens this spring. She also has played a significant role in design decisions about the new ballpark, which also includes new offices, restaurants, a hotel and a convention center.
Additionally, Fischer has been heavily involved with the Rangers opening a baseball academy in the Dominican Republic, which houses 100 youth prospects. Fischer says the academy allows prospects more than an opportunity to play baseball.
“It allows them a chance to be better young men and big league citizens,” Fischer says. “That has been the most enjoyable aspect of my job, and yet it was a relatively small piece of our financial pie.”
Fischer says much of her professional acumen stems from her time as a Baylor student. She was drawn to the University because of its small classes, faith-based curriculum and academic reputation.
“That’s why I stayed there even when I was ready to change majors,” Fischer says. “Baylor does a wonderful job of infusing ethics into basically every single class. It gave me a solid foundation of ethics in business and that ethical dilemmas are real. I’m forever grateful for that because I know I wouldn’t have gotten that at another school.”
Fischer is thankful for the lasting friendships she developed during her college days, and she appreciates the social skills she learned as a Baylor student.
“I realize today how much of a foundation that gave me, things like being able to speak in front of a lot of people or how to plan an event,” she says.
Fischer is a member of The Dallas Assembly and the International Women’s Forum. She serves on the board of directors and the executive committee for the Arlington [Texas] Chamber of Commerce, and she is a member of the financial committees for the Arlington Chamber of Commerce and the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
In 2010, Fischer was named Dallas Business Journal Chief Financial Officer of the Year for private mid-size companies. She was the 2012 Fort Worth Business Press Chief Financial Officer Game Changer of the Year, and she was one of D Magazine’s Dallas 500 Business Leaders in 2015.
“I am so incredibly honored to be named Baylor Alumna of the Year,” Fischer says. “I personally know a few of the prior recipients, and I am truly honored.”
Her message to current and future Baylor students is simple.
“Be ethical, first and foremost, and be flexible,” she says.
PRO TEXANA MEDAL OF SERVICE
Mayor of Waco
A third-generation Baylor Bear, Kyle Deaver, BBA ’86, JD ’93, has served as Waco’s mayor since 2016 after four years on the city council and six years on the Waco Plan Commission.
When deciding to pursue the mayor’s office, Deaver recognized the need for people who are willing and able to give their time. The attorney and businessman partners with his brother John in their law firm, Deaver and Deaver. They are also directors of American Bank and co-owners of American Guaranty Title.
“I grew up here in Waco, and to have the opportunity to serve its citizens in this way is an honor and a privilege,” Deaver says. “I never imagined that I would have the opportunity to do this. I love Waco, and I love the people who live here. We are blessed to be in a time right now when the city is thriving. We’re working on projects that go far into the future.”
Deaver is quick to credit the city staff and management for the work Waco has accomplished during his time as mayor. He is particularly proud of the $300 million the city has dedicated to infrastructure improvement over a 10-year period, in addition to a robust street program.
“Those things may not make for splashy headlines, but they make a huge difference for the city going forward,” he says, adding that he is also pleased with the deepening of the relationship between Baylor University and the City of Waco and the local community.
“One of the first projects that we worked on when I got on council was the donation that the community made to McLane Stadium, which was really important to getting that stadium built,” Deaver says. “There are real, tangible benefits that come from a strong relationship between Baylor and Waco.”
Deaver credits Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., for the current connection between the city and the University.
“I believe there will be more exciting announcements that will come up as we go along,” Deaver says.
Another emphasis of Deaver’s work as mayor is doing his part to ensure as many Wacoans as possible can participate and benefit from the city’s successes.
“City leaders have put a focus on equitable services and strategic economic development over the last year and I hope that will go forward,” he says. “That’s important, especially as downtown redevelops and East Waco redevelops. We want to do that in a thoughtful way and try to include as much of the local neighborhood in that growth as we can.”
Deaver’s tenure as mayor will end in May, and while it has been challenging in many ways, he encourages others to get out of their comfort zones and make a difference.
“A lot of times, stepping out to serve means putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation, but this has been such a rewarding experience,” he says. “If you don’t ever step into that situation, you never know what it’s going to be like. I just encourage people to get out and do your best to make a difference with all the skills and all the blessings you’ve been given.”
Deaver is on the board of the Waco Foundation. He has served on the boards of the Cameron Park Zoological Society, Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce, Vanguard College Preparatory School, and St. Paul’s Episcopal Day School.
“It’s humbling to receive an award from your alma mater,” Deaver says. “I never would have expected to have received this, but I’m grateful and excited for what that means in terms of Baylor recognizing the work of the City of Waco and our continued relationship with Baylor.”
Kyle and his wife Diane Elliott Deaver, BBA ’87, have two adult children, Morgan Snyder, BBA ’15, and Nick Deaver, BBA ’12.
PRO ECCLESIA MEDAL OF SERVICE
Brenda Rhame Hauk
CEO & Founder, BrightStone
It’s more than a place to live. It’s a place to have a life. That has been the guiding principle for Brenda Rhame Hauk, BMED ’71, since she founded BrightStone in Franklin, Tennessee, in 1996. BrightStone is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports the overwhelmingly underserved population of adults with special needs.
The path from studying organ music, participating in the A Capella Choir and the Kappa Theta (Tri Delta) sorority at Baylor to creating the first-of-its-kind facility in Tennessee to serve adults with special needs was a winding, but rewarding path.
After graduating from Baylor, Hauk worked with special needs children in Waco Independent School District, partnering with three other recent Baylor graduates to help pilot one of the first four Early Childhood Education Programs in Texas. As her career continued, she taught special education elsewhere in Texas, Oklahoma and Tennessee, where she moved with her husband Gary.
While raising their children, Hauk left full-time teaching and began volunteering with Special Olympics statewide in Tennessee and consulting with local churches to help congregations understand needs and find ways to accommodate special needs individuals.
Hauk later returned to the classroom and earned a master’s degree in special education from Vanderbilt University. While teaching high school in Franklin, she met many of the students who she now serves at BrightStone and began to recognize the glaring gap in the services available to Tennessee’s special needs adults once they left the school system.
That recognition led Hauk to found BrightStone, a place where special needs adults can further their education, develop job skills and transition from school to work or community. BrightStone is a day program for up to 40 individuals, providing a dynamic curriculum and job opportunities in crafting, producing and packaging products ranging from tasty cookie and dip mixes to one-of-a-kind handmade decorative ceramics. Students spend the day with music, art, cooking and community activities, led and served by supportive teachers.
“We have to be able to answer the heart cry of parents,” Hauk says. “That is, ‘What’s going to happen to my son or daughter when I can no longer care for them?’ We want to answer that in a very heartfelt way.”
An answer to that heart cry is under construction with The BrightStone Campus, a 138-acre, $25 million campus near Franklin. The sprawling campus will feature a chapel, gymnasium, equestrian center, horticultural center with greenhouses, therapeutic aquatic center and a health center. More than 120 adults will be accommodated in the day program, but the heart of the campus will be supervised student housing for 80 special needs adults.
“We’ve got this plan, this very detailed vision of where we believe God’s leading us to help individuals in their whole life setting,” Hauk says.
Hauk sees the Pro Ecclesia Medal of Service as an opportunity to show the Baylor Family the beautiful value of the lives of her students and all special needs students.
“Hopefully this award serves to validate and to promote the needs of individuals who have intellectual and developmental challenges,” she says. “I would love for all of the Baylor community to be aware that these individuals are created by a God who created me and who created you, and that these individuals are deserving of the right to be able to live a life that’s fulfilling to them, one that brings them encouragement and hope.”