Honors Residential College Improvements

Honors Residential College Proposed Improvements

Baylor’s Board of Regents has approved the renovation and improvement of the Honors Residential College (HRC) along with the development of space in nearby academic facilities for Honors College faculty and staff offices. The Honors College’s new home will span both sides of Founders Mall and will create a hub of honors education at the historic heart of the University.

“The Honors College capital project directly supports Illuminate, Baylor’s strategic plan, with prominent tie-ins to three of Illuminate’s pillars: unambiguously Christian educational environment, transformational undergraduate education, and scholarship marked by quality, impact and visibility,” Honors College Dean Douglas Henry, Ph.D., said. “This renovation will enable us to offer a well-integrated, high-caliber learning experience for years to come. Because one in 10 undergraduates at Baylor has a connection to the Honors College, the project has University-wide scope and considerable impact.”

At the heart of this capital project is the desire to create a central location for the Honors College. Currently, faculty and staff are scattered from the Baylor Sciences Building to Brooks Residential College and everywhere in between.

“Bringing our faculty and staff together will elevate the visibility of a major university investment in outstanding undergraduate education,” Henry said. “Current and prospective students will benefit from improved access to faculty and advisors, readily receiving academic counsel, encouragement, and instruction whether in or out of class. We also anticipate gains in scholarly collaboration and contribution of our faculty as they enjoy proximity, conversation and support of one another’s academic research and writing.”

The project also includes a complete renovation of Memorial and Alexander halls, which house the HRC. The new space, designed to fit with the existing buildings’ classical look, will feature a soaring atrium that unites Memorial and Alexander, centralized offices for the dean and administrative staff, and gathering areas and lecture halls.

Faculty Steward Jason Whitt, B.A. ’96, Ph.D. ’08, is senior lecturer in medical humanities in the Honors program. He hopes these and further renovations will make HRC a great entry to the Honors College and Baylor for generations of future students.

“We want our facilities to match those that students can find at universities around the country so that we continue to attract the best and brightest to Baylor,” Whitt said.

Born out of a partnership forged by Dean Emeritus Thomas Hibbs, Ph.D., and Campus Living and Learning, the HRC was founded in 2007 in an effort to recover an older model of residential living. The Honors College was one of Baylor’s first academic units to have a living-learning community. Hibbs is the J. Newton Rayzor Sr. Professor of Philosophy.

“The HRC is among the very best things that we have done and are doing in the College,” Hibbs said. “When we began this experiment, we were on the cutting edge nationally and at Baylor. The HRC enables us to pursue an integrated education at the undergraduate level and serves as the front door of the College.”

The University has committed $35 million to the HRC project as part of its multi-year, campus-wide updating of residential facilities. Baylor will seek additional support to remodel neighboring space for office suites, lecture halls and conference areas for the four academic programs within the Honors College.