A&Spire to Illuminate Introduction
Baylor 2012marked an important paradigm shift in Baylor’s history from an institution with a primary focus on undergraduate education to one also seeking recognition as a top-tier research institution. The University published Pro Futuris in 2012 as the first extension of this strategic shift, emphasizing the goal of becoming a ‘Highest Research Activity’ (R1) institution according to the metrics of the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Baylor’s colleges and schools each established its own strategic plan in response to general themes and goals listed in Pro Futuris. As a consequence, the College of Arts & Sciences (A&S) launched A&Spire, a plan with five academic themes: Liberal Education in the 21st Century; Becoming a Nationally Recognized Research Institution; Strengthening Community Engagement; Investing in Health; and Building the Financial Foundation. Each theme identified specific goals with accompanying acts of determination. Subsequent annual reports highlighted the accomplishments of A&Spire.
While Pro Futuris remains Baylor’s strategic plan, Illuminate targets specific research areas to propel the institution toward an R1 ranking. Illuminate identifies and describes four foundational Pillars and Five Signature Academic Initiatives as the means to reach this goal. The Four Pillars are as follows: Unambiguously Christian Educational Environment; Transformational Undergraduate Education; Research and Scholarship Marked by Quality, Impact, and Visibility; and Nationally Recognized Programs in Human Performance Through the Arts and Athletics. Emerging principally from Pillar 3, the Signature Academic Initiatives include Health; Materials Science; Human Flourishing, Leadership, and Ethics; Baylor in Latin America; and Data Sciences. These topical areas came mainly from discussions through focus groups and committees across campus. The proposals submitted by A&S originated from faculty committees that had been engaged in discussions for many months. Publication of Illuminate coincided with the launch of Baylor’s first comprehensive fundraising campaign, Give Light, ($1.1B over seven years) on November 1, 2018.
In response to Illuminate and the new University strategic plan and given that A&S has already accomplished many of A&Spire’s acts of determination, we recognize it is time to build upon and advance A&Spire in light of these new opportunities. We call this plan A&Spire-to-Illuminate. What you will find in this new five-year plan is a summary of contributions by A&S to the Four Pillars and Five Signature Academic Initiatives. In addition, we include a fifth pillar addressing the ways that the A&S plans to build on its efforts to create a learning environment that fosters diversity and inclusion. We in A&S intend to provide the leadership and accomplishments needed for Baylor to achieve its lofty goal of becoming one of only a few church-related R1 institutions with a strong commitment to undergraduate education. A&S will produce a report each year to indicate our progress.
College of Arts & Sciences
With almost one half of Baylor’s undergraduate population and many of its research doctoral programs, A&S is composed of 25 departments representing the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, as well as numerous programs, institutes, and centers. We support the mission of Baylor University to ‘educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.’