Season 4 - Episode 446
The Baylor Family’s generosity has spurred exciting growth throughout the University. From new faculty chairs and student scholarships to major capital projects like a welcome center, basketball pavilion and football operations center, it’s an exciting season in the life of the University. In this Baylor Connections, Dave Rosselli, Vice President for Advancement, takes listeners inside these projects and shares how Baylor alumni and friends across the nation are driving a dynamic vision to become reality.
Derek Smith:Hello, and welcome to Baylor Connections, a conversation series with the people shaping our future! Each week, we go in depth with Baylor leaders, professors, and more - discussing important topics in higher education, research, and student life.
Derek Smith:I'm Derek Smith and our guest today is Dave Rosselli, vice president for advancement at Baylor. Its been a lot of exciting news around the university and much of that filters through their office: academics, athletics, new buildings, and more as Baylor heads into the home stretch of the Give Light campaign. There's a lot of exciting things to talk about.
Derek Smith:Dave, thanks so much for joining us on the program today! You and your staff have been very busy and it's obvious by the fruit of that work. That's got to be fun for you all to see, the fruit of that work. We appreciate you coming on to talk about that today.
Dave Rosselli:Well, hi Derek, it's a pleasure to be with you. Thank you for having me.
Dave Rosselli:Yes, it has been very exciting over these last several years and we're on the precipice of surpassing our $1.1 billion giveaway goal. We have an incredible team with very talented people and a very committed administration. So it is a very exciting time daily.
Derek Smith:We're going to talk about, over the next 20 minutes or so, some of those things: major capital products - like the Fudge Football Operation Center, Basketball Pavilion, we've seen groundbreaking for the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center. There's been the news that we're hiring 100 additional faculty over the next five years and the next phase of Illuminate. I want to talk with you about some of these things individually.
Derek Smith:But, more or broadly, kind of high level, what stood out to you about the way the Baylor family has responded and continued to invest in the university, even with some real headwinds, obviously in the last 20 months or so?
Dave Rosselli:Passion, commitment, and loyalty, and tremendous affinity is how I would describe the Baylor family. Not only in the past 20 months during the pandemic, Derek, but even predating the pandemic with the issues that we've had to reconcile and resolve in athletics and across the campus with our Title IX struggles. In spite of all of those things, our Baylor family has continued to be committed, resilient. If you were to look at the data over the last six years, you would not see a glitch in terms of the consistent giving. Really, dating back to 2014, every year has been a record year, on top of a record year. So, I could not be more excited, thrilled, and impressed, and touched with how the Baylor family has come alongside the university's initiatives. Really remarkable.
Derek Smith:You know, when we think back a few years, Dave, to the start of Give Light, a $1.1 billion project, that's an eye-popping number and a pretty monumental goal. As you described, that passion and consistent support from the Baylor family, obviously, that gave you and everyone involved the...encouraged you to reach for such a lofty goal, right? Made you feel confident that you could get that. I know you said we're getting close. As we head into the new year, where are we in terms of that goal? I know we've hit some impressive milestones recently, with more coming.
Dave Rosselli:Well, really Derek, as of today, we're at $1 billion 85 million. So we're about $15 million short. We anticipate surpassing that threshold before the end of the year, maybe even sooner than that. Then we're going to just continue on and raise as much money as we possibly can.
Dave Rosselli:Our original concluding date for the campaign was slated for May 31st, 2022. We're going to go beyond that in an effort to align our campaign, the Give Light campaign, with the new Five-Year strategic plan. Now we will not be able to go out the entire five years because our campaign will need to conclude at the 10 year mark or just before the 10 year mark.
Dave Rosselli:But we will extend because there are many initiatives that are on the horizon that we have not yet come full circle and achieved because some of them are new, to be honest. So, we're going to lean into those. Some are capital, some are programmatic. We can talk specifically about them. But, we'll have another longer runway of another couple of years in order to achieve, some of those bold initiatives that our new provost, Nancy Brickhouse, has laid out for us.
Derek Smith:Visiting with Dave Rosselli.
Derek Smith:Dave, when we think about Give Light, we're going to talk about projects both on the academic side and the athletic side. What's the general breakdown then? Give Light, I know has made significant in both areas.
Dave Rosselli:Well, if you look at percentages of giving, of the $1.1 billion, athletics encompasses about 28% of that. Then you've got, in essence, the balance of the academy, that's gobbling up the rest of that.
Dave Rosselli:So, it's been a significant trajectory for academy in the $1.1 billion campaign. The most significant project that has made the largest dent in getting us closer to Tier 1 is the Baylor Academic Challenge, which is an initiative that was started, thanks to an anonymous gift, $25 million anonymous gift, from one of our donors to come alongside other interested donors that wanted to give $1.5 million or greater to fulfill academic chairs. We've now raised 14 of those.
Dave Rosselli:We've concluded our fundraising for the Baylor Academic Challenge. We've run out of the $25 million match money. Those 14 chairs are going to have a transformational impact on this campus in terms of the work that those, really, world-renowned faculty members are going to bring to Baylor. Not only in their passion for solving the wicked problems of the world, but also the partnerships that they have with other individuals, foundations, corporations, and they bring all of those assets to Baylor when they come to the institution.
Dave Rosselli:So, those 14 chairs are going to have a significant impact in getting us closer to R1. So much so, that even though we have run out of our $25 million match money, the institution is going to continue on with what's called the Illuminate Academic Challenge. Those will be chairs that the institution is going to match on a one for one basis. As long as we continue to have interested donors, the university is going to come alongside it. So, we're really excited about that initiative, and it's having a major impact on the fulfillment of alumni.
Derek Smith:So as you talk about the Illuminate Challenge, that next phase, building on the Baylor Academic Challenge, and the news we saw out of the Board of Regents meeting...what a 100 new faculty over five years? So it sounds like there's definitely some ways that the Baylor family, if they're interested in that, if there's an area of passion that's growing that they could walk alongside and help make that a reality.
Dave Rosselli:Yes. For the baseline of the academic chair, which is $1.5 billion, but certainly below that there are professorships that need to be funded, postdocs that need to be funded in this emphasis. So, there is no shortage of opportunities for our Baylor family to come alongside the institution and help with this effort.
Dave Rosselli:Scholarship endowment is going to continue to be a significant part of what we raise money for, moving forward. If we want to get to a point where we're decreasing tuition, then we're going to need to increase scholarship endowment. That has been one of the main initiatives in our original $1.1 billion Give Light campaign. $500 million was set aside for endowment. To date we're at about $460 million towards that goal. So, our Baylor family loves endowing, not something that the institution prior to this campaign was really leaning into. But it's clear from the results of this campaign that our Baylor family loves to invest in endowed scholarships, endowed professorships, endowed chairs, endowed postdocs, you name it. Those programs live on in perpetuity and they really resonate with our Baylor family.
Derek Smith:Visiting with Dave Rosselli.
Derek Smith:Dave, something that I didn't have a great grasp on when I was, you know, even working here at Baylor for many years, you talk about Baylor family loves to endow these scholarships and make those investments. I think people hear sometimes the endowment and it's this 'Baylor's endowment', and it's a big number and it's nebulous. But how can we understand how, what you just described, how these individual endowed scholarships or endowed professorships, when we talk about the endowment, what that relationship looks like and why those individual rising tides, if you will raise that, that larger tide?
Dave Rosselli:If you're a family that wants to...that is very interested in student scholarships, as an example, and you want to make a $100,000 commitment over a period of five years, and you want to make a gift to $20,000 a year for five years. The university is going to invest those resources into the larger endowment pool, which right now is pushing $1.9 billion. But that $100,000 is going to go to support an actual student at $5,000 a year because we take 5% of that $100,000 and designate it for a specific student scholarship.
Dave Rosselli:So a student, with a name, is going to receive that $5,000 and that student is going to understand where those resources are coming. The family that sponsored the student will receive a letter from that student at some point during the course of the year, a thank you letter and ongoing correspondence. Then we have an endowed scholarship banquet that we host once a year where you get a chance to sit with your student recipient.
Dave Rosselli:So there's really a sweet moment and a sweet relationship that develops with each of these endowments. They're compartmentalized and then they make up that huge endowment that people don't quite understand. But there are unique, personal stories with each one of those scholarships that are committed by families.
Dave Rosselli:So everyone could participate. I use $100,000 as an example, as a template, but really it can go to out as low as $25,000 at $5,000 a year. It'll produce an increment for a student that makes a huge difference. $2,500 or $1,500 could make the difference in a student coming to Baylor or not coming to Baylor.
Dave Rosselli:So while it seems like when we talk in general of terms, it's a black hole. When you break it down, it makes a difference in the lives of our young men and women that are here on this campus.
Derek Smith:That's a great way to think about that as we visit with Dave Rosselli, vice president for advancement, here on Baylor Connections.
Derek Smith:Dave, let's shift focus a little bit to some of the exciting facility news that we've been hearing. We talk about a basketball pavilion, a new football operation center, anyone driving by campus has seen, you know, the construction taking place at the new Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center. Let's start briefly with the Basketball Pavilion. I know people have a lot of questions about that. Where is that project right now? What should people be waiting to hear in the future?
Dave Rosselli:Well, the project has gotten a green light from the Board of Regents. It's gotten a timeline. We're going to begin construction in the summer of 2022. So we're only months away from the tractors moving dirt around.
Dave Rosselli:What we don't know yet is whether the tractors are going to be moving the dirt around at the Ferrell Center site, where we've done some design work, or at the site a little farther down the river, just behind Clifton Robinson Tower. Those are the two sites that are in play. We anticipate that we're going to have a decision on one of those two sites within the next several weeks, certainly by the end of the year. Then the board will reconvene and give their stamp of approval on site itself.
Dave Rosselli:But the project has been given a green light. It is moving forward. We have a lead donor that's provided $75 million for the project, and we have many other donors who have made gifts. So we're pushing $100 million of commitments already for a project that's just short...a tad bit over a $100 million. So we're in great shape for the basketball pavilion, as well as some of the other projects that you mentioned.
Derek Smith:Hey, when that basketball pavilion opens, we're going to have a few national championship banners that we have to move down...have to move across the lot or down University Parks Drive or wherever, so people can see those. It's been a fun stretch and fun to speak about the new home for our great basketball programs.
Derek Smith:Let's talk about the football operations center. Kristy and Jeremy Fudge made a lead gift for the Fudge Football Operations Center, recently announced, state of the art 105,000 square foot facility. What's this facility going to bring to the program and to the university?
Dave Rosselli:Well, it's actually going to be a self-contained facility so that football can really come up to current standards in the Big 12. Right now they're sharing operations with all of the other student athletes. The weight room is exceedingly congested right now. You have student athletes that are getting in there at five o'clock in the morning, just because they're trying to maximize the clock and there just aren't enough minutes to go around.
Dave Rosselli:So with the number of student athletes, that we have a number of football athletes that we have, and the commitment that each of those student athletes make to weight training, that's going to be one transformational aspect of it. All of the football offices will then move over to football operations. It then frees up the Highers' Simpson building to accommodate the balance of our athletic programs, minus basketball. So really our Olympic Sports are going to benefit fit tremendously from the fact that football ops is going to be repositioned over on the river. So it's going to be transformational.
Dave Rosselli:The Fudges are just such an amazing family. They saw the vision, not only for football operations. This was a vision that the Fudges had for all of our capital projects. They're interested in basketball moving forward as well. They're also interested in the welcome center. They'll have a naming recognition feature in the new welcome center, because they saw all of the capital projects as instrumental and significant for Baylor moving forward. That's why they were motivated to make such a stretch gift. This is a huge gift for their family that's going to benefit all of these projects.
Dave Rosselli:Derek, you talk about how magical it is that we've got these capital projects on the horizon. This will be a season of time, like never before on the campus with regard to our infrastructure changing. Welcome center is a new front door, front portal to the campus. It's underway as we speak and significant progress on that, by the way. Football Operations will be underway here at 2022, just as the Welcome Center is continuing under construction as will the Basketball Pavilion.
Dave Rosselli:Not to mention that we're now, now beginning, the trajectory of renovating our residence halls. Collins is the first that will come offline for construction. That will begin this next summer. That's four capital projects that are going to be happening simultaneously on this campus. Then on the heels of Collins will be the Honors Residential College with Memorial and Alexander being tied together with a central piece in the middle, an atrium, that will bring all the faculty and students in the Honors College together in one hub.
Dave Rosselli:So, it's going to be so exciting for our Baylor family to see really a landscape that's going to a change dramatically with first and foremost, the opening of the welcome center. Then they'll all have openings subsequent to that.
Derek Smith:That's exciting to envision and to think a few years from now, what that is going to look like when they're open.
Derek Smith:You know, as you talk about that, I was thinking a new basketball pavilion and major new structures get a lot of the attention and understandably so. But you talked about things like the residence halls and how transformational that can be for the people who live there. Even, you know, I visited the Tidwell Bible Building for the first time in a while. First time since the renovation a couple weeks ago, and was absolutely blown away by the transformation in there that still felt like the Tidwell Bible Building. It stayed true to what that building was, but it was amazing the transformation that took place in there.
Dave Rosselli:The bottom line is that there's a lot of amazing work that's taking place right now to transform this institution. But, the Baylor family is having a huge imprint on this transformation by virtue of giving this $1.1 billion. I mean, it's the family that's contributing to all of this transformation: to the Illuminate academic plan, to basketball, to football, to the Tidwell Bible College, to the amazing gift made by Mark and Paula Hurd to enable us to move forward with the welcome center. This is philanthropy. This is why philanthropy makes a transformational difference in higher education. We're seeing it play out right here before our eyes.
Derek Smith:Visiting with Dave Rosselli.
Derek Smith:Dave, as we head into the final few minutes of the show, I want to transition a bit and talk about another area that we've seen some exciting things happening. That is Baylor alumni.
Derek Smith:The Baylor alumni team has been traveling as things have opened up again. We've had the chance to visit with the Baylor family, a recent event in Denver with Byron Johnson, executives from Compassion International, and World Vision, and others. What's it meaning to your team to be able to get out and interact with the Baylor family, again, like President Livingstone, Dr. Brickhouse, our professors, to be able to get out, shake hands, and look people eye to eye again?
Dave Rosselli:Well, it's important for our living alumni, our 150,000 of them around a globe, to see our leadership in person and to hear, in person, what is happening on the campus that they love, they all modern, that that is so endearing to them. For that stretch of 18 months, it was very difficult because while we were communicating virtually, we didn't have the opportunity to go shake hands or hug our Baylor family in person. It was a blessing to be able to get back out, do that first campaign event, in some time, in Denver.
Dave Rosselli:What was wonderful about the content of that program is that we had leaders coming together, philanthropic leaders and partnerships, that are going to be significant in shaping decisions to solve wicked problems around the world. You're talking about the CEO of World Vision that was on a panel hosted by President Livingstone in Denver. We had the CEO, Jimmy Mellado, with Compassionate International that was scheduled to be on that panel. He felt ill that day, so he sent a lieutenant.
Dave Rosselli:But, the bottom line is everyone is working together from a Christian perspective, a faith perspective, to have an impact on the world and Baylor is front and center in that effort. So, it gives our Baylor family that encouragement and that sense of pride and the ability to understand, a little more intimately, how the institution is committed. That's why we're moving into this Tier 1 trajectory, this research trajectory, to have an impact on helping to solve these world problems from a faith standpoint. It's the intersection of faith and science that is so important in the trajectory that we're on.
Dave Rosselli:So first and foremost, it's great to get back out at demonstrate for our constituents, what we're doing. Secondly, we have to build the infrastructure around the country, so that we have volunteers at each of our hubs that are doing great work and preparing for the presidential visits, and the Dean's visits, and the leaders coming into the region. We're not quite there. We have work to do there.
Dave Rosselli:At one time, Baylor had a very strong volunteer network around the country when its alumni association was intact. Then when there was a separation and a period of years of disharmony, that fabric deteriorated. We're trying to build that back up. So we are committing resources, both human capital and anything that's necessary in order to train our volunteers against, so that we can be the strongest alumni network in the United States of America and higher education. I believe we can be that.
Derek Smith:Are there ways, if people are interested, in what you're describing in different cities around the country that they can get involved?
Dave Rosselli:Absolutely. We have to build up our young alumni network in all these hubs. If you're a young graduate and you want to be involved, contact us, because we need you to help in these efforts. Regardless of where you are, if you're in Nashville, you're New York City, you're in Charlotte, North Carolina; we need young alumni to help in the as volunteer effort. We need folks that are interested in being leaders in the women's network. We need business net, business professionals in business and in engineering to help generate activity in each of those regions.
Dave Rosselli:Regardless of where you are, if you are interested in developing...mobilizing this army, we want to hear from you because we're committing staff resources to help train those volunteers around the country. Very important for our next campaign, to mobilize that army and help move them forward.
Derek Smith:We hope people will take advantage of that.
Derek Smith:Dave, as we wind down, one final quick question for you here. So my wife and I have our name on a brick outside McLane Stadium and I think we'd like to do that elsewhere. What should we know about where we can do that, and how we can do that for the next phase?
Dave Rosselli:You can go online right now, Derek, and on the website, you can buy a brick for any one of these three projects so far. That would be the Welcome Center, the Basketball Pavilion and the Collins Residential Project. We're going to have opportunities in the landscape for bricks in each of those capital projects and we already have a website launch.
Dave Rosselli:So as that matures, and we're able to market that in a more robust way, we are anticipating that we'll have a large swath of the Baylor family doing what you and your wife did, which was purchase a brick from McLane Stadiums.
Dave Rosselli:But we already have that project launched. It's just a matter of, of marketing a little more holistically in order to get that interest.
Derek Smith:Great. Well that'll be my motivation to check that out and get it done.
Derek Smith:Well, Dave, a lot of exciting things going on! Thanks so much for sharing, lots for us to anticipate. We look forward to talking to you again here down the line, as there's even more to share.
Dave Rosselli:Thank you, Derek. Appreciate you having me on.
Derek Smith:Appreciate you coming on.
Derek Smith:Dave Rosselli, vice president for advancement, our guest today here on Baylor Connections. I'm Derek Smith.
Derek Smith:Reminder: you can hear this and other programs online, baylor.edu/connections, and you can subscribe on iTunes. Thanks for joining us here on Baylor Connections!