Powering Strategic Academic Growth

During the year since its creation, the Baylor Academic Challenge (BAC) has served as an engine for innovation and the expansion of strategic areas of academic excellence. This dynamic program was established as part of the largest current gift in University history — a $100 million gift to the Give Light campaign announced in May 2019.

Made by an anonymous donor, the gift provides a dollar-for-dollar match of qualifying gifts made by other members of the Baylor Family. The BAC encourages donors to establish endowed funds for strategic academic initiatives and support growth in the number of endowed faculty positions.

The program has a target of endowing as many as 17 new faculty positions, helping Baylor generate additional funding to sustain and grow teaching and research in key areas by bringing additional outstanding scholar-teachers to campus. Two recent gifts have enabled Baylor to advance closer to that goal.

Strengthening Health Sciences
Health Sciences

Funding of a new endowed faculty position within the Honors College will provide increased emphasis on research in the Health Sciences — one of the signature academic initiatives of Illuminate, Baylor’s strategic plan. The $1.5 million gift from Dr. James Robert (JB) Parker, BS ’92, of Amarillo, Texas, will combine with a match from the BAC to create The James Robert Parker Endowed Chair in Health Science and Leadership. 

“Baylor alumni continuously look for opportunities to support our Baylor students, and I am grateful for JB’s generous gift, which will continue that great tradition,” Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., said at the time of the gift’s announcement. “This significant resource will continue Baylor’s rich legacy of leading researchers and transformational mentors serving as professors. As we continue to broaden and enhance the research and instruction related to the health sciences, we celebrate our alumni who step forward to lead with us and advance the priorities within the University’s strategic plan, Illuminate.”

The Parker Endowed Chair in Health Science and Leadership will bolster research and collaboration within the Honors College, one of Baylor’s 12 nationally recognized academic divisions, on behalf of research in the health sciences and healthcare leadership.

The chairholder will help teach and mentor the Honors College’s pre-medical, pre-health and science students — a population of approximately 400 students. The Parker Chair also will support students through supervision of Honors theses, connecting Honors students to research programs and developing clinical internship and research partnerships within local, regional and national healthcare providers and research centers. 

“For years, Baylor’s faculty have taken an intentional, transformational approach to teaching our Baylor students, and I am grateful that JB has chosen to honor this incredible legacy through the establishment of the Parker Chair,” said Baylor
Vice President for Advancement David Rosselli. “JB has used his expertise and knowledge as a physician to make an impact within his community and throughout the world through service and medical relief trips. I am grateful that his Baylor legacy will grow through the students who will learn and draw inspiration from the teachings and mentoring of our future Parker Chair holders.” 

Endowed faculty positions such as the Parker Chair will be transformational in providing leading researchers and educators who will challenge students to grow and learn within their respective areas of expertise. The Honors College’s approach to instruction and faculty-led research at the undergraduate level will be significantly advanced through the leadership and concentration of resources made possible through the endowed chair’s focus in health sciences. 

Parker is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon. After graduating from Baylor, he was admitted to the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, from which he earned a Doctor of Medicine in 1996. He remained in Houston, training at the University of Texas Health Science Center for his internship and residency. He is the founder of Parker Sports Medicine & Orthopedics in Amarillo. Since 2013, Dr. Parker has spent two weeks per year setting up a hospital in rural Guatemala with his friend Jay McCown, a surgical technician from Panhandle Surgical Hospital. Over the years, they have been able to perform many different types of orthopedic surgeries.

Ed and Denise Crenshaw
Hankamer School of Business

A $5 million gift from William E. (Ed), BBA ’93, and Denise Crenshaw of Lakeland, Florida, will support the Hankamer School of Business. A portion of the gift supports the Baylor Academic Challenge program, creating two endowed faculty positions within the Hankamer School of Business that will receive dollar-for-dollar BAC matching funds.

“Ed and Denise are creating a bright future for Baylor University and our students,” President Livingstone said. “We give thanks for their vision for Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business and the growth that is possible through the support of our Baylor Family. We are honored that the Crenshaw name is now enduringly linked to our excellent faculty within the Hankamer School of Business. Mr. Crenshaw’s reputation as an ethical, Christian business leader continues to inspire our faculty and our students and serves as an example of the impact our alumni can have in the world. Ed and Denise’s commitment to our Baylor students continues, and we are grateful for their generous support of Baylor’s growth and progress.”

The Crenshaws’ gift will create two endowed faculty positions for the Hankamer School of Business. The William E. Crenshaw Chairs will be used by Baylor Business to advance the School’s innovative research and teaching priorities within Illuminate. The two chairs will allow the School to attract and retain distinguished faculty members who will be significant contributors in furthering the Hankamer School of Business’s position as a national leader in business education.

“My experience at Baylor had a profound impact on my life,” Ed Crenshaw said. “My hope and prayer is this gift will further strengthen the University in its quest to influence and shape future generations of business leaders.”

In 2016, Ed Crenshaw retired as CEO of Publix Super Markets, Inc, an employee-owned, private supermarket chain based in Lakeland, Florida, and currently serves as Chairman of the Board. Ed has been a strong advocate for Food for All, a hunger relief charity which Publix began supporting in 1990 with gifts totaling more than $20 million. Another of the Crenshaws’ passions is the Lakeland Regional Medical Center (LRMC), where Ed and Denise have served on several boards and committees and have helped sponsor several fund-raising events, all of which led to them being named “Philanthropists of the Year” for LRMC in 2006. In 2019, Ed and Denise received Philanthropist of the Year honors from United Way of Central Florida.

A graduate of the University of Georgia, Denise Crenshaw is a dedicated volunteer with Peace River, a United Way agency assisting women in crisis. In 2017, Denise served as the steering committee chair for Peace River’s 20-bed mental health crisis stabilization unit in Lakeland. She also has served as a volunteer who speaks on behalf of abused and neglected children in the court system. The Crenshaws were also recognized in 2012 with the Baylor Legacy Award, which recognizes individuals who demonstrate extraordinary service and philanthropy to Baylor.

For more information or to support Give Light: The Campaign for Baylor, visit www.baylor.edu/givelight.