A&Spire to Illuminate Pillar 2

Transformational Undergraduate Education

Baylor University’s new academic strategic plan, Illuminate, reaffirms the University’s historic commitment to transformational education. Building upon this strong foundation, the College of Arts & Sciences proudly assumes its central role and responsibility in providing dynamic programming within and beyond the classroom.

When Baylor University was founded in 1845 under the motto of Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana, it set itself on a course to produce graduates who would serve communities far and near. We have been successful for more than 170 years in shaping physicians, lawyers, entrepreneurs, political leaders, educators, ministers, engineers, social workers, scientists, and other leaders across civil society who serve others with compassion, integrity, vision, and skill. Arts & Sciences is poised not only to continue but also to strengthen the delivery of our dynamic undergraduate education as our students become informed citizens in a changing democracy, servant leaders in faith communities, superior professionals in diverse fields, and devoted family members and friends. We will also continue to recruit a faculty who help students achieve these goals and who reflect the changing demographics of our student body.

Coupled with Illuminate’s vision for Baylor to become a premier Christian research university is an equally ambitious goal of becoming a Tier 1 undergraduate institution (T1). These two endeavors complement one another, and the imperative regarding the increased focus on research accomplishments is matched by a goal of continuing to provide a life-changing experience for our students in an ever-changing world. At the heart of our strategy for delivering a dynamic, transformational undergraduate experience are the following initiatives:

●      Fully implementing the new Unified Core Curriculum, thereby improving educational opportunities for the BA, BS, BFA, and BSAS degrees.

●      Practicing enrollment management to recruit, retain, and graduate a diverse population of undergraduates at the level of institutions ranked in the top 50 universities in the U.S. News & World Report (USN&WR).

●      Capitalizing on the Baylor brand by expanding and improving the services and programming of the Office of Prehealth Studies (OPHS).

●      Developing the Office of Engaged Learning (OEL) that mentors and supports our diverse student population in gaining internships, conducting research, engaging with the community, and winning national and international scholarships.

These initiatives are built upon a vision for a transformative education that includes a thorough foundation in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences while holding true to and magnifying our University’s mission.

VisionThe College of Arts & Sciences will provide students with a broad-based, liberal education that prepares them to engage with ideas that are new to them, to think expansively about who they are and their place in the world, and to apply their learning to the good of the neighbor and flourishing of creation

Unified Core Curriculum

Building upon the University’s General Education Outcomes, the “core curriculum, taught within a community of Christian scholars, enables men and women to acquire the knowledge, skills, and virtues needed to uncover and recognize truth, to deepen their faith, to live virtuously, to strengthen their communities, and to affect the world in transformative ways.”

Goal 1: Fully implement the Unified Core Curriculum.

Action Steps

1.1    Assist all other Baylor colleges and schools as they “map on” to the Arts & Sciences Unified Core Curriculum.

    Year 1: All academic units at Baylor have now mapped on the Arts & Sciences Unified Core Curriculum to varying degrees. The Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences is most closely aligned, and the School of Engineering & Computer Science is the least aligned. Arts & Sciences keeps a detailed record of this.

    Year 2: In August 2021, the College of Arts & Sciences completed a two-year practice of estimating on a semester-by-semester basis the seat needs for all common core and distribution lists courses that service almost all degrees at the University. Except for the Research Writing Distribution List, needs are being adequately met. A Research Writing DL Planning Committee, chaired by Wes Null and Chad Eggleston, submitted recommendations for addressing this deficit which included among other items the hiring of new English faculty. Null and Eggleston have assumed primary responsibility for implementation.

1.2    Implement and populate the Creative Arts Experience (CAE) opportunities.

    Year 1: The College of Arts & Sciences implemented the CAE requirement in the fall of 2021. A Coordinator of CAE has been hired to manage these events for our students. During the 2020-2021 academic year, 11,101 students participated in 284 CAE events.

    Year 2: During the 2021-2022 academic year, the CAE hosted 333 events with 13,422 attendees. This is 49 more events than offered the previous year, with an additional 2,000 students attending. The CAE instituted the Heritage Month series that centers marginalized voices in the arts and celebrates diverse and inclusive content  –– allowing students to experience art not only through the lens of their own culture, but also through the lens of other cultures, building empathy and preparing them for worldwide leadership.

1.3    Develop a Core Fellows Program.

    Year 1: Initial discussions began in 2019, but were discontinued during 2020-2021.

1.4    Develop and implement civic engagement opportunities.

    Year 1: See Pillar 2, Engaged Learning, Goal 4.

    Year 2: Adding onto current courses offered through the Philanthropy and Public Service Program, the Office of Engaged Learning and the Office of the Core ran a pilot civic engagement program in 2021-2022. The pilot involved courses in the departments of history, classics, modern languages and cultures, environmental science, and English. Faculty teaching these courses, with support from the Director of Civic Learning and Engagement, partnered with local schools and nonprofit organizations to develop civic experiences connected to course content. There were many successes and some setbacks in the first phase of the pilot, and the Offices of the Core and Engaged Learning are learning from these outcomes to develop a second phase of the pilot in 2022-2023. Arts & Sciences associate deans have initiated meetings with the chairs of the A&S Curriculum Committee and the A&S Core Curriculum Advisory Committee to develop an Engaged Learning Distribution List, which will include a civic engagement component.

Goal 2: Improve undergraduate curricular opportunities.

Action Steps

2.1    Increase A&S faculty participation in University Chapel.

    Year 1: The Arts & Sciences Council of Chairs approved new versions of Chapel opportunities for the Unified Core Curriculum: Chapel Online, Chapel Worship, Chapel Prayers, Chapel Studies, and Chapel Forum. Chapel Online covers Old and New Testament themes ranging from Genesis to Revelation, to complement the objectives of the required REL 1310: Christian Scriptures class taught by faculty in the Department of Religion. During 2020-2021, six A&S faculty participated in Chapel Online. In addition, faculty in the Department of Film and Digital Media assisted in filming Chapel Online. Each semester, A&S faculty will be invited to preach in Chapel Worship. The Chapel Studies format will allow additional A&S faculty to participate in ways that link Christian faith and practice to the student's major and vocation. For example, seven A&S faculty led in the "Faith and the Healing Professions" section of Chapel Studies. The Chapel Forum will make use of A&S faculty experts in ethics, the environment, climate change, race, ethnicity, and other areas of national and international importance.

    Year 2: The Office of the Core and the new Director of Chapel have been working together to align the objectives of the various University Chapel options, which will clarify what A&S faculty participation will look like going forward.

2.2    Work with campus partners, including the Academy for Teaching and Learning (ATL) and the Institute for Faith and Learning (IFL), to develop opportunities for Arts & sciences faculty to design or redesign core courses.

    Year 1: Sixty-nine A&S faculty participated in ATL-hosted training sessions regarding online course design, 193 faculty participated as mentors to others, and 354 faculty participated in the CANVAS faculty learning hub. In part, faculty participation reflected the conversion of many classes to online instruction as a consequence of the pandemic.

2.3    Establish a Core Curriculum Diversity Advisory Group to increase resources for faculty as they design courses with cultural competency components in mind to celebrate our increasingly diverse student body.

    Year 1: The Core Curriculum Diversity Advisory Group submitted a report that is currently under review. The initiatives outlines in the report will begin in the fall of 2021, with a Diversity Advisory Group providing ongoing leadership in this area.

Year 2: See Pillar 5 on Fostering Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

2.4    Assess the Core: In Year 1 develop and approve an assessment plan and begin the assessment of the Core according to the assessment plan (an annual task with a report going to Core Curriculum Advisory Committee [CCAC] at the end of each year); and by Year 5, the Office of the Core will conduct a meta assessment of the core curriculum and provide a report to the Dean. The Director of the Core will work with the Provost’s Office, the chairs of the Core Curriculum Diversity Advisory Group, and the chairs of the A&S Diversity Taskforce in assessing the extent to which the diversity requirements of the Core are being implemented.

    Year 1: Lauren Poor, Director of the Core, completed the assessment plan and implementation will begin in the coming academic year. The plan includes a Unified Core Curriculum website that outlines a diversity and inclusion plan, dashboards, CAE graduation requirements and general education matrix for all units.

    Year 2: The Office of the Core completed the first Core Assessment Report, which was endorsed by the CCAC and posted to a password-protected faculty page of the Core website in September 2021. The 2020-2021 Core Assessment Report provides a foundation for future assessments, examining seven different dimensions of the Core to identify areas of strength and potential areas of improvement. Methods of assessment include: student surveys; collection and analysis of faculty syllabi; a Core Curriculum Dashboard created by Institutional Research and Testing (IRT) that contains course data and faculty demographic information; a Chapel report from IRT; data from the CAE event-hosting platform BaylorConnect; and a departmental assessment, the Core Curriculum Assessment Report on Learning Outcomes (CARLO) form. During 2021-2022 CARLO forms were used to establish targets and track student learning related to shared knowledge, skills, and virtues within the Core. For 2021-2022, Core syllabi were assessed using the Syllabus Assessment Form (SAF) for four of the five Common Courses, the Research Writing DL, and the Contemporary Social Issues Distribution List. Co-curricular experiences (CAE and Civic Engagement) are currently undergoing pilot assessments related to the Core virtues.

2.5    Increase visibility and access to interdisciplinary majors and minors through Web presence.

    Year 1: The Office of Interdisciplinary Studies began development of its website, under the direction of Director Paul Martens.

    Year 2: The Office of Interdisciplinary Programs website is completed (with embedded links to current Area Studies, Military Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies and Medical Humanities websites). Additionally, the Humanities Research Fellows website was developed.

2.6    Work with departments and the Arts & Sciences Curriculum Committee to refine existing interdisciplinary majors and minors (especially Medical Humanities and Area Studies). This work will be done by the Director of the Core and the Director of Interdisciplinary Programs.

    Year 1: The Office of Interdisciplinary Studies is working to move the Area Studies program under its jurisdiction to encourage greater participation from affiliated departments. Medical Humanities has appointed numerous affiliated faculty to assist with course offerings.

    Year 2: The process of Reimagining Area Studies is midcourse. Individual Area Studies are working on (re)developing particular curricular programs, and procedures are in place for launching the renewed programs in Fall 2023. Additionally, affiliate faculty have been appointed to the Women’s and Gender Studies program.

2.7    Work with departments and the Arts & Sciences Curriculum Committee to develop and implement new interdisciplinary minors and certificates. This work will be conducted by the Director of the Core and the Director of Interdisciplinary Programs.

    Year 1: The Arts & Sciences Curriculum Committee and the Council of Chairs approved a new Certificate in Bioethics.

    Year 2: The Arts & Sciences Curriculum Committee and the Council of Chairs approved a new Environmental Humanities minor. An Ethnic Studies certificate is also nearing completion.

2.8    Increase the number of students pursuing double and secondary interdisciplinary majors.

    Year 2: This number is relatively static and an increase is expected only as the Humanities Research Fellows major and the renewed Area Studies majors come online.

2.9    Increase the number of students pursuing an interdisciplinary minor and certificates.

    Year 2: The first undergraduate Bioethics certificates were awarded in Spring 2022 (eight students). The creation of an Environmental Ethics minor, an Ethnic Studies certificate, and interdisciplinary minors and certificates in Area Studies will increase these numbers in the coming years.

2.10  Work with departments and A&S Curriculum Committee to develop five interdisciplinary certificates.

    Year 2: One certificate is complete (Bioethics), one is nearing completion (Ethnic Studies), and several are in development in Area Studies.

2.11  Increase courses with a cross-cultural element to prepare students better for “worldwide leadership and service.”

    Year 2: A spreadsheet was created to track existing Core courses that explore one or more regions of the world, and examine such things as the social, religious, educational, economic, political, or other aspects of each region. These Core courses are designed to achieve a number of goals:

  • Compare and contrast cultures, counties and peoples explicitly for the purpose of developing cultural competencies and understanding through readings, writing, projects, discussion and reflection;
  • Draw the attention of students to global challenges, such as ethical or moral challenges, justice, health, the environment, etc.;
  • Engage students to evaluate and choose individual and group actions that can be taken on a local, state, regional, national, and global scale to contribute to the creation of a better world for all God's people;
  • Challenge students to examine and better comprehend their own "culture" or worldview; and
  • Provide an opportunity for any of the above in an organized co-curricular activity or event outside of a course.

At present, 158 of the current Core courses fit one of these criteria.

2.12  Populate the Grand Challenges in the Science Distribution List of the Unified Core Curriculum with four interdisciplinary courses.

    Year 1: This initiative was put on hold during the pandemic and little progress has been made to this date.

    Year 2: The current Scientific Methods II Distribution List is populated with eight courses. Progress towards creating interdisciplinary courses continues to be slow, but discussions were initiated with members of the Environmental Humanities minor development committee.

2.13  Establish a Humanities Fellows Program.

    Year 1: A task force appointed by the Dean submitted a proposal for a Humanities Fellows Program to the Provost's Office. The Provost approved the program for implementation beginning in 2022.

    Year 2: The Humanities Research Fellows program has been created, approved, and is in the process of implementation. Due to the compressed time to implement, build the infrastructure, and recruit new students, it will have a soft launch in Fall 2022.

2.14  Establish a Social Sciences Fellows program.

    Year 1: The Dean will appoint a task force in Fall 2021.

    Year 2: The task force decided not to move forward with this initiative at this time.

Enrollment Plan

In addition to offering a comprehensive core curriculum, the College of Arts & Sciences is committed to recruiting the best students and then retaining and graduating them in a timely manner.

The current 2012-2022 A&S Enrollment Management Plan states that “a Top 50 ranking (based on U.S. News and World Report metrics) is achievable if the University is able to move forward on multiple fronts, but the goal cannot be met without extending the achievements in our major strength—undergraduate education, particularly in the University’s largest academic unit—the College of Arts and Sciences.” According to the USN&WR 2021 analysis, 47% of the ranking is directly related to recruitment, retention and graduation, i.e., undergraduate education. Building on our continued success in recruiting high-ability students,1 the action steps outlined below will place us on a trajectory to achieve a T1 ranking within a decade.

Goal 1: Retain 89.8% of freshmen.

Action Steps

1.1    Implement enrollment practices as outlined by the Academic Capacity Committee’s 2020-2022 solutions document for the departments of Biology, Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Psychology & Neuroscience for the incoming classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022.

    Year 1: The Department of Biology and the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience lowered the Advanced Placement (AP) score needed to earn credit at Baylor. For Psychology & Neuroscience the change became effective in the fall of 2020, and for Biology the change will be effective in the fall of 2021.

    Year 2: The Advanced Placement policies stated in Year 1 have been implemented. As outlined in the Academic Capacity Committee document:

  1. Annual spring meetings continue to anticipate demand for key classes in Biology, Chemistry, and Mathematics –– based on net deposited cohort –– have helped us prepare the actual seats needed.
  2. A draft is under consideration to revise compensation for Undergraduate Program Director positions across the College, and Biology, Chemistry and Psychology & Neuroscience are included in that draft.
  3. University Advising and Biology, Chemistry and Mathematics have plans in place for “real time” advising during summer should the primary Baylor person not be reachable.

1.2    Study and identify retention patterns by demographic subgroups and establish intervention programs for the identified groups.

    Year 1: During 2020-2021 the University studied subpopulations of minority, low-income and first-generation students at the University and College levels, as well as focusing on pre-medical/dental/veterinarian (PMDV) students as a group. The study included a VENN diagram to illustrate the interdependences of these subpopulations of students. During 2021-2022, Arts & Sciences will continue to evaluate the data to determine appropriate intervention programs.

    Year 2:

  1. During 2021-2022, the study referenced in Year 1 expanded to include transfers, retention of the Fall 2020 cohorts, and Hispanic populations specifically. A&S is scheduled (in June 2022) to provide professional development to the Center for Academic Success & Engagement (CASE) team using these data as we serve the sub-populations identified.
  2. While not specifically focused on subpopulations, we know that subpopulations are largely represented among our D, F, and Withdrawal (DFW) rate students. To that end, A&S made a concerted effort to have high-DFW rate class professors file progress reports at the critical six-week mark of the term. We reached above 90% of all faculty in these classes in Fall 2021 and above 85% in Spring 2022 filing progress reports on their students.
  3. During Spring 2022, A&S requested the creation of a dashboard that allows analysis of subpopulations of our prehealth population. Still in the development stage, this Power BI program, designed by Meaghann Wheelis, should be ready for those with need to access the data by mid-summer 2022.

1.3    Increase the percentage of Arts & Sciences freshmen enrolled in a credit-bearing New Student Experience (NSE) course from 75% to 90%.

    Year 1: Four departments –– Biology, Air Science, Geosciences and Modern Languages and Cultures (Spanish & Portuguese Division) –– are offering five new NSE options for the fall of 2021.

    Year 2: NSE enrollment in credit bearing classes for Arts & Sciences majors reached 98.1% with the Fall 2021 enrolling class. Fall 2020 attained 94.8%. What is next being explored is how we might increase enrollment of our new students into major-oriented NSE classes.

Goal 2: Achieve 70% four-year and 80.3% six-year graduation rates.

Action Steps

2.1    Identify and assist at-risk populations by student classification.

    Year 1: 2020-2021 involved particular focus on low-income students whose six-year graduation rate falls 15 percentage points behind non-low income peers (Fall 2012 cohort measurement point). A&S participated on the Low-Income Student Success Team during 2020-2021 and these efforts helped to raise faculty and staff awareness of the challenges faced by this population of students. Progress has been made in reducing barriers to success. Strategies to reduce the barriers to success for other at-risk populations, such as minority and first-generation college students, have resulted in improved retention; however, in the year ahead further study into the obstacles to graduation will be needed to differentiate how a sophomore student's needs might differ from a junior student's situation.

    Year 2: For students at risk of not retaining and graduating due to financial constraints, the Arts & Sciences Dean’s Office worked across all 27 departments and programs and with Student Financial Aid to clarify existing scholarships. This project continues with Student Aid into 2022-2023, but has already identified nearly $100,000 that can be distributed to undergraduates this next academic year.

2.2    Seek opportunities to reduce financial barriers to success, such as lowering the cost of textbooks.

    Year 1: Actively in process. Arts & Sciences participated on the Low-Income Student Success Team. Outcomes in 2020-2021:

  1. Advertising to students regarding lower cost options for textbooks, including rentals and electronic sources;
  2. Appealing to faculty to make use of Open Educational Resources when appropriate; and
  3. Creating faculty-supporting scholarships for students to purchase textbooks, etc.

    Year 2: Baylor University Libraries are sponsoring a faculty summer program in 2022 on Open Educational Resources.  Five A&S faculty applied and will be part of this initial cohort.  It is hoped that this team of five will offer an Academy for Teaching and Learning course in Fall 2023 on what they learned, as Baylor continues to appeal to faculty about these ways to make our education more equitably accessible for all students.

2.3    Initiate a campaign to increase the number of students who have earned 30 hours at the beginning of their sophomore year.

2.4    Increase Arts & Sciences offerings for summer online instruction, offering a limited number of online opportunities in fall and spring semesters for high-demand prehealth courses.

    Year 1: Summer enrollment in 2020 increased to 8,708 seats (3,847), with most courses offered online. Approximately 8% of our course offerings will be online in the fall of 2021, including core curriculum courses and upper-level courses in the majors.

    Year 2: Summer enrollment in 2021 decreased to 5,952 seats (2,756), with most courses offered online (97%). Approximately 5.5% of our course offerings will be online in the fall of 2022, including core curriculum courses and upper-level courses in the majors. (5.5% by capacity, 4.5% by section). Summer 2022 is offering 8,837 with 79% offered online.

2.5    Explore opportunities for alumni to assist in Arts & Sciences student success efforts.

    Year 2: The Office of Prehealth Studies initiated a new alumni program called Baylor Bridges. This program is designed to connect our alumni with prehealth students to support mentorship, research, service, and leadership. The Program Director of Fine Arts Living & Learning Center & Cultural Events Experience held events for alumni in major cities including Dallas, Austin, New York, and Los Angeles to seek internship and mentoring opportunities for fine arts students and other students.

2.6    Collaborate with University Advisement (UA) to help Arts & Sciences undecided majors select an appropriate major.

    Year 2: The need for this has become more apparent as the number of undecided students has grown exponentially. Arts & Sciences associate deans, the Director of Degree Certification, and College of Arts & Sciences Advisement (CASA) leadership began internal discussions of how to curtail this. The associate deans and Director of Degree Certification and Enrollment Management support a plan proposed by UA that will allow a differentiation among undecided students –– those who are truly unsure of what they want to major in, and those who are in a holding pattern waiting to qualify for the major they want. UA, CASA, and the A&S Dean’s Office will review at the end of each semester those students who have been undecided for an excessive amount of time, and these students will be targeted with more intentional intervention to encourage them to find a path.

2.7    Offer an online Wintermester pilot program for 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 and provide an analysis of the pilot for the Dean and Council of Chairs.

    Year 1: The 2020-2021 Wintermester Pilot offered five common core classes and two business classes (225 seats). Plans for 2021-2022 involve offering more than double the number of classes. In February 2021, a report was presented to Dean Nordt and the UPDs in Arts & Sciences. Partially completed.

2.8    Offer a Maymester Baylor in Taos pilot program in May 2022.

    Year 2: Plans to launch the pilot in 2022 with courses in Religion and Anthropology were paused due to the pandemic. This project could be revisited later.

Goal 3: Create an Arts & Sciences Enrollment Advisory Group to develop a draft of a 2022-2027 A&S Undergraduate Enrollment Plan (EP).

Action Steps

3.1    Draft and submit for Council of Chairs’ approval a 2022-2027 Undergraduate Arts & Sciences Enrollment Plan (EP) targeting recruitment, retention and graduation goals stated in this section.

    Year 1: The pandemic introduced uncertainty into the area of admissions recruiting, so the University advised Dean Nordt to continue with a series of one-year enrollment plans for the foreseeable future. A&S created the one-year plans as part of the A&Spire to Illuminate Strategic Plan. Establishing a five-year enrollment management plan remains a long-term goal of A&S as the world of admissions begins to stabilize.

Year 2: Baylor is scheduled to roll out a University Strategic Enrollment Management Plan in Summer 2022. In order to support and speak into the rollout of this plan, A&S is developing an Enrollment Vision document to guide the College from 2022-2027. The Vision will be presented to the Council of Chairs in A&S in August 2022. Annual enrollment plans will be written to support the Vision.

3.2    Research enrollment management plans at peer and aspirant institutions to guide the development of the EP.

    Year 1: An initial review has been completed. Research in this area will continue.

Year 2: Since an enrollment plan was not developed (see 3.1), no further research was done.

3.3    Explore new markets for recruiting students, paying particular attention to enrolling a student population that better mirrors state and national demographics.

    Year 1: Exploration of this educational program continues with a view toward establishing "Baylor in McAllen, Texas."

Year 2: Baylor in McAllen has been shelved at this time, but could be reconsidered in the future. The A&S Enrollment Vision (see 3.1) will include aspirations for particular populations.

Prehealth Programs

The Office of Prehealth Studies (OPHS) in the College of Arts & Sciences engages students, faculty and staff across campus to provide services that will enhance students’ likelihood of successful application to programs and schools of medicine, dentistry, optometry, podiatry, physician assistance, physical therapy, occupational therapy, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, and, on occasion, chiropractic medicine. Programming activities of this office include student recruiting and retention, instruction of first-year courses to help students understand health-related professions, student advising, arranging of experiences in clinical and research settings, and coordination of professional school applications. OPHS prepares letters of evaluation and recommendation for students pursuing medicine, dentistry and optometry. The office supports approximately 18 prehealth student organizations, maintains a Living and Learning Center, and oversees the Texas Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP) and Baylor Baccalaureate/MD Programs. In addition, OPHS hosts a variety of special student success and professionalism workshops, outreach programs, medical mission trips, leadership activities, New Student Programs, the Tropical Medicine Summer Institute, and a variety of alumni and development programs from which a significant number of scholarships are awarded every year.

Many students come to Baylor with the intention of pursuing a career in medicine, dentistry, or veterinary medicine but later must reassess their aspirations; therefore, a key element of prehealth programming is to guide these students toward degree paths that they can complete successfully. Programming in OPHS contributes to retention of students and strives to ensure that students who leave the prehealth track remain at Baylor in another course of study.

Although the goals outlined below target prehealth students in Arts & Sciences, OPHS serves all Baylor students regardless of major.  Therefore, the action steps detailed below present tasks that should apply to all Baylor students, and if these tasks are implemented effectively, we expect they will lead to achieving the stated goals.

Vision:  Prepare and support students aspiring to careers in healthcare through collaborations with the Baylor academic community and professional healthcare partners so these students may live out Baylor's mission of worldwide leadership and service.

Goal 1:  Increase first-year freshman retention rate for Arts & Sciences prehealth students overall (as of Fall 2019, 88.4%) and for each of the underrepresented subpopulations (e.g., as of Fall 2019, 86.6% minority students) to the A&S target of 89.8% by Year 5.

Year 1: During 2020-2021 the first-year freshman retention rate for the general population of prehealth students increased from 88.4% to 92.2%.

Year 2: Will need to wait for the retention data from the 2021-2022 academic year. OPHS has developed a new Strategic Learning (STL) course to support first-generation prehealth students that will begin with two section in the fall of 2022.

Action Steps

1.1    Determine the first-year freshman retention rate, through a collaboration between the A&S Director of Information Analysis and the Office of Institutional Research (IR), of underrepresented populations, according to gender, ethnicity, first-generation college students, and other appropriate demographics for prehealth students in A&S.

Year 1: During 2020-2021, the first-year freshman retention rate for minority prehealth students increased from 86.6% to 91.1%.

1.2    With the leadership of OPHS, form the Prehealth Freshman Retention and Intervention Committee (PFRIC) with representation from the College of Arts and Sciences Advisement (CASA), UA and Enrollment Management. The committee charge is to (a) identify prior to orientation potentially at-risk prehealth students and (b) design a program of intervention offering study skills and advising.

1.3    Design, through the PFRIC, interventions (such as parallel plans of advisement) for students who (a) have received two or more academic warnings or who have been identified through poor academic performance, or (b) whose GPA and credit accumulation subsequently qualify them for the premedical, predentistry and preveterinary medicine (PMDV) designation at the end of their freshman year.

1.4    In collaboration with the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences (HHS), assess the nature and effectiveness of programming currently provided to PMDV students, to determine acceptance rates into professional programs, and to make recommendations to improve outcomes. This step will ensure that students are aware of allied health options and pathways to admission to these programs. This collaboration will be led by the PFRIC.

1.5    Monitor the progress of intervention and parallel advising plans, as described in Action Step 1.3 above. The PFRIC will conduct this monitoring.

Goal 2: Increase the six-year graduation rate of all Arts & Sciences prehealth students (as of Fall 2018, 76.5%) to equal or exceed the graduation rate of all A&S students by Year 5 (as of Fall 2018, 80%).

Action Steps

2.1    Identify, through CASA and the Office of Degree Certification and Curriculum Development, A&S prehealth students who are not progressing at rates to graduate in four years and provide advising to these students for degree completion in four years or with minimal time beyond four years.

2.2    Assess progress annually through collaborative efforts of the directors of OPHS, Enrollment Management, and CASA.

Goal 3: Continue to increase the overall acceptance rate of Baylor Arts & Sciences students who apply to medical, dental, and veterinary schools.

Action Steps

3.1    Explore and potentially develop 4+1 BS/MS degree and other bridge year programs that allow students to effectively distribute the prehealth curriculum throughout their undergraduate career.

3.2    Provide and promote additional opportunities for students to develop interpersonal skills of ethics, compassion, and empathy through courses that have a cultural competency component to further these skills. Such courses may be electives or required courses in the major and minor fields, as well as in certificate programs.

    Year 1: Arts & Sciences developed the Minor in Medical Leadership and the Bioethics certificate program.

    Year 2: The Office of Prehealth Studies (OHPS) is cooperating with Baylor’s Center for Global Engagement in the new Baylor Pre-Med in Dublin program, an opportunity exposing students to medical learning and practice in a different cultural setting. Several co-curricular events have been held through the Baylor Ethics Initiative. In addition, an Ethnic Studies certificate will develop these skills and dispositions.

3.3    Continue to develop Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and Dental Admission Test (DAT) programs and workshops to support students’ readiness and preparation for these tests.

    Year 1: OHPS now offers workshops to the premedical cohort.

    Year 2: OPHS is working with the Center for Academic Success and Engagement (CASE) to develop programs for first-generation prehealth students.

3.4    Continue to develop alumni mentoring and shadowing programs.

    Year 2:

  1. OPHS has developed a new Baylor Bridges Alumni Program to connect Baylor alumni who are health care professionals with current Baylor prehealth students to build a community focused on advancing and enhancing education via research, leadership, service, and mentorship. This program is designed for Baylor University students interested in pursuing any health-related professions.
  2. Bear Tracks is a new mentoring program that connects on-campus Baylor students with shadowing in clinics and institutions in the Waco area. 

3.5    Expand the professional internship programs with regional healthcare and dental partners.

3.6    Coordinate with campus partners to expand leadership development programs coordinated by the Division of Student Life, the Prehealth Chapel Alternative coordinated by the Bobo Spiritual Life Center, and medical mission trip opportunities coordinated by the Baylor Missions Office.

    Year 2: The Office of Prehealth Studies (OPHS) has expanded its Prehealth Chapel programs by partnering with an outside Christian organization (Christian Community Health Fellowship, CCHF) to provide new service and research engagements for prehealth students desiring to grow in their faith. OPS also has developed new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) workshops to support all of the students in their program.

Engaged Learning

The Office of Engaged Learning (OEL) in the College of Arts & Sciences contributes significantly to Baylor University’s goals in transformational undergraduate education by facilitating experiential learning. The OEL is the central hub of programs through which faculty and staff help a diverse array of students maximize their undergraduate experience through learning beyond the classroom, linking transformational education to opportunities for application.  The OEL brings together mentoring opportunities for students across fields of study, empowering our undergraduates to:

  • Compete for major fellowships and awards at the national and international level;
  • Participate in faculty-led research;
  • Engage in academically-informed work for the good of the community;
  • Gain valuable professional experience through internships, particularly in research and public service; and
  • Explore the world through study abroad.

The OEL’s endeavors in undergraduate research, civic engagement, and major fellowships and awards fall under the leadership of directors (full- and part-time) who work directly in OEL. Efforts in internships and study abroad involve extensive partnerships with other offices on campus.

While many of the activities that fall under the umbrella of the OEL have been underway for many years, the University established the current OEL framework in Fall 2019. By integrating multiple programs into one coherent ecosystem, the OEL is truly distinct in the landscape of higher education, providing students with access to unique educational experiences that enrich and strengthen one another. 

Vision: The College of Arts & Sciences will help Baylor students discover pathways to maximize their education through learning beyond the classroom, encouraging them to discover “the life that really is life,” where they maximize their own potential and apply it toward the flourishing of their neighbor and the world.   

Goal 1: Increase the number of students competing for major scholarships and awards to 100 annually and diversify both the applicant pool and the awards sought.

Year 1: The OEL supported 196 applications for competitive national and international scholarships this year. To our knowledge, more than 30% of the applicants are minority students, first-generation students, and/or veterans, though the number may be higher because some students do not self-report these categories. This year the OEL supported applications for several awards to which Baylor students had never previously applied. Baylor students won 25 of these awards (37 if we count one program where our campus-level competition all but guarantees national winners).

Year 2: The OEL supported 140 applications for competitive national and international scholarships and experienced record win totals in certain categories. Highlights include 14 winners of the Fulbright Award (double Baylor’s previous high of seven); our first Truman Scholar in 15 years; and our second consecutive Churchill Scholar. While our application numbers went down from the previous year, we view this as a positive development given our capacity. Compiling accurate data on racial and ethnic diversity is difficult to track because so many of our students do not self-report. Despite the lack of accurate numbers, anecdotally, our applicant pools are more diverse. In fact, the sizable majority of students who won major fellowships and awards this year were underrepresented minorities.

Action Steps

1.1    Develop a tracking database of awards sought annually by Baylor students.

    Year 1: Completed.

1.2   Overhaul the website, including a searchable database, that better equips students to match their academic and professional interests with compatible fellowships and awards.

    Year 1: Completed.

1.3   Increase the Ampersand Society cohort sizes in order to identify prospective applicants in their first year.

    Year 1: Completed.

1.4   Begin to host interest sessions and workshops, both in-person and virtual, to reach wider student audiences.

    Year 1: Completed.

    Year 2: Expanded to include more formats and more award information sessions.

1.5   Host interest sessions and workshops specifically designed for students from underrepresented backgrounds.

1.6   Pilot a for-credit class for the Ampersand Society that presents national scholarship and other engaged learning opportunities to students.

Goal 2: Assess current undergraduate research activity, potential capacity, and opportunities for growth, while simultaneously increasing the number and diversity of students participating in faculty-led research.

    Year 1: The OEL examined data from the Office of Institutional Research in an effort to get a baseline and thus measure future growth in this area.

Action Steps

2.1    Collaborate with the Registrar’s Office to create a uniform course number for undergraduate research courses in all departments across the College.

    Year 1: Completed.

2.2    Design certificates in research for undergraduate students.

    Year 1: Completed.

2.3    Design and develop a curricular platform that helps students learn basic research literacy and discover research opportunities while connecting faculty to undergraduate research initiatives. 

    Year 2: New curricular options are in the planning stages as part of the new Provost’s Scholars Program.

2.4    Develop survey instruments to measure the campus-wide undergraduate research appetite and interests.

2.5    Apply for grants to establish and fund research opportunities for underrepresented students.

    Year 1: Completed.

Goal 3: Increase the number of faculty and graduate students who mentor undergraduates in research.

Action Steps:

3.1    Create a certificate program for doctoral students in mentoring undergraduate research.

    Years 1 and 2: We will continue to work with the Graduate School in hopes of developing a plan.

3.2    Support the development of Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REUs) as part of National Science Foundation (NSF) grants in order to allow undergraduate participation in major NSF-funded research.

    Year 1: The first attempt to develop REUs failed but OEL is continuing to work on this aspect of the NSF grants.

    Year 2: Same as Year 1, but we will continue trying.

3.3    Implement and expand the Elizabeth Vardaman Award for Undergraduate Mentoring.

    Year 1: Completed.

3.4    Develop a formal research program for the academic year that shares elements of the Baylor Transdisciplinary Research Undergraduate Experience (BTRUE) program.

3.4.1    Establish Career Development Seminars during the academic year.

3.4.2    Increase the number of on-campus opportunities for research presentations throughout the academic year, for example, linking these to high-ability recruitment events and to development/alumni/parent activities.

Year 2: New opportunities were introduced this year through partnerships with and support of student-led initiatives such as BURST (Baylor Undergraduate Research in Science & Technology) and the Global Health Academy.

Goal 4: Implement a Civic Engagement (CE) course requirement in the Unified Core Curriculum for all Arts & Sciences students.

Action Steps

4.1    Work with the CCAC and the Registrar’s Office to develop a plan to phase-in the Civic Engagement Core requirement, including the establishment of a searchable “CE” designation for civic engagement courses.

    Year 2: We are still in discussion with the Registrar’s Office to determine whether this is possible.

4.2    Increase the number of Civic Engagement courses, both through the Philanthropy & Public Service Program and through CE courses embedded in academic disciplines.

    Year 1: Completed.

    Year 2: The CE pilot entered a new phase by embedding in multiple academic departments.

4.3    Identify faculty champions/pioneers in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences to mentor future faculty.

    Year 1: Completed.

    Year 2: The initial CE pilot faculty continue to help guide new CE faculty.

4.4    Educate faculty about new opportunities for CE courses.

4.4.1    Work with the ATL to host training opportunities.

4.4.2    Meet with the Undergraduate Program Directors (UPDs) across A&S departments to explore CE courses imbedded in disciplines.

Year 2: Ongoing.

4.5    Work with community partners to establish pathways for student service.

     Year 2: Ongoing, with several new community partnerships established this year.

Goal 5: Develop partnerships that empower students and faculty to contribute substantially to the Solid Gold Neighbor initiative in Waco.

Action Steps

5.1    Offer a Philanthropy & the Public Good in partnership with the Office of External Affairs, making grants to support Waco-area nonprofits.

    Year 1: Completed.

5.2    Explore options to designate Waco as a community host site for the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty.

    Year 1: Completed.

Goal 6: Develop strategies to fund and administer 50 national or international internships annually for Baylor students, especially in the areas of research and public service.

Action Steps

6.1    Recruit high-achieving students to our existing internship programs in prehealth, research, and the Shepherd Higher Education Consortium on Poverty.

    Year 1: Completed.

6.2    Work with UA and the A&S Board of Advocates to generate new funding for summer internships in traditionally underfunded areas of strategic importance.

    Year 2: A $50,000 allocation from Dean Nordt will support internships, with conversations about how to develop more sustainable funding sources.

Goal 7: Increase the percentage of Arts & Sciences students studying abroad.

Action Steps

7.1    Collaborate with the Center for Global Engagement (CGE) to build support for programming.

    Year 1: Completed.

    Year 2: The OPHS is cooperating with Baylor’s Center for Global Engagement in the new Baylor Pre-Med in Dublin program, an opportunity exposing students to medical learning and practice in a different cultural setting.

7.2    Monitor the number of A&S students studying abroad annually.

7.3    Work with UA to cultivate new funding sources aimed at facilitating study abroad opportunities for A&S students.

Goal 8: Develop new programs that integrate engaged learning opportunities with study abroad.

Action Steps

8.1    Pilot research and internship opportunities through existing study abroad programs.

    Year 1: Completed.

    Year 2: Developed strategies to widen and increase these opportunities, including the appointment of Dr. Lauren Poor to a one-year role in the OEL to implement strategies.

8.2    Work with the Center for Global Engagement and Arts & Sciences faculty to determine which existing study abroad programs are poised to integrate new engaged learning dimensions.

8.3    Explore new study abroad sites that show promise for integrated engaged learning opportunities.  

    Year 2: See Action Step 7.1.

8.4    Pursue grant funding for engaged learning activities abroad.

    Year 2: A collaborative grant application with CGE was unsuccessful. We are exploring new opportunities.


[1] High-ability is defined as composite standardized test scores:  > 29 ACT or > 1340 SAT.  These score ranges represent roughly the top 10% of test takers nationally.