News and notes from the Office of the President
April 5, 2011

President's Note

Forty years ago, visionary elected officials in Texas came together to create an innovative program called the Tuition Equalization Grant (TEG). The TEG wisely encouraged Texas students to enter a Texas college of their choice -- any college, public or private -- with the assurance that the neediest among them would be eligible for modest, but important, education-empowering grants.

I recently visited legislative and executive branch leaders in Austin with two fellow presidents -- Dr. Phil Schubert of Abilene Christian University and Dr. Dennis Ahlburg of Trinity University -- to remind legislators of the extraordinary value of the program to so many Texas families. The TEG is entirely need based, assisting some 27,000 students annually at private institutions across Texas. Many are the very first in their family to pursue a college education.

The TEG also makes good business sense for Texas. It costs the government half of what it otherwise spends to send students to Texas's fine public higher education institutions.

With Texas's rapidly-shifting demographics, education at all levels is vitally important. But not all students of promise can -- or should be -- channeled into public education. High-quality, private universities, such as Baylor, are essential in meeting the needs of Texas citizens and helping our state to educate our rapidly growing population -- and at a lower cost to taxpayers. This spring, our elected officials in Austin will make important budgetary decisions. We well recognize that budget cuts will be necessary. We trust, however, they will work to protect as fully as possible the highly successful TEG program.

Geology Research Makes International Headlines

We are immensely proud of the prominent role played by Baylor geology researchers, Dr. Lee Nordt, Dean of our College of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Steve Driese, Chair of our Geology Department, and Gary Stinchcomb, Doctoral candidate in Geology, in the extraordinary discovery of the oldest archaeological evidence of human occupation in the Americas. This history-rewriting scientific breakthrough -- and Baylor's vital role in it -- further enhances Baylor's academic reputation and strengthens our research environment.

From the premier journal Science to The New York Times (login may be required) to the BBC, this research has been reported across the globe. Congratulations to Dean Nordt and Dr. Driese and to Mr. Stinchcomb for their outstanding scientific contribution.

Baylor Law School Moot Court Competition

I was pleased -- but not surprised -- to learn that Baylor Law School's renowned trial advocacy program has been ranked by U.S.News & World Report as third highest in the country. I witnessed this exceptional legal training firsthand when presiding recently over the finals of Baylor Law's M.D. Anderson Foundation Moot Court Competition here on our campus.

It was a great honor to be in the company of the illustrious judicial panel, including Justices Nathan Hecht, Dale Wainwright and Don Willett of the Texas Supreme Court, and Justice Jan Patterson, formerly of the Texas Third Court of Appeals. We were joined on the bench by current Baylor Law students Matt Czimskey and Matt Smith, winners of Baylor Law's fall 2010 Dawson & Sodd Moot Court Competition. The panel members relished hearing the skillful arguments from Baylor Law students involving important Constitutional issues.

The M.D. Anderson Foundation of Houston has been a longtime, generous supporter of Baylor Law School. We are grateful for the Foundation's support of this outstanding interscholastic advocacy program.

Pickens, Blanchard, Shulman

We are blessed as an academic community that each semester brings a multitude of opportunities for us to hear numerous distinguished scholars and guests. Last week, we hosted an exceptionally strong group of experts and opinion leaders.

We were honored by the particularly timely visit of the legendary T. Boone Pickens. As our inaugural guest in a new series of public conversations called "On Topic," Boone discussed energy issues before a packed house in Waco Hall. I hope you'll join us for future "On Topic" conversations, as some of the world's leading experts share their insights on timely issues facing our nation and the entire globe.

We also were privileged to hear from Ken Blanchard, bestselling author of "The One Minute Manager" and "Lead Like Jesus." Through the Hankamer School of Business, Ken was the guest speaker in The Paul J. Meyer Christian Leadership in Business series. Later in the week, we heard from Dr. Lee S. Shulman, former president of The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Lee spoke eloquently on "Learning to Profess: Challenges and Opportunities for Liberal Education in Faith-based Universities" as part of the Presidential Symposium Series.

As you are able, I encourage you to join in the conversations when we host guest speakers on our beautiful campus. Next in the Presidential Symposium Series is Dr. Mark A. Noll, The Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame. Mark will speak on "The Place of the Bible in the Modern Christian University" at 4 p.m. April 9 in the Paul Powell Chapel at George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

Beall Poetry Festival and President's Concert

Seventeen years ago, the late Virginia Beall Ball, a 1940 Baylor graduate and Indiana philanthropist, established the Beall Poetry Festival to honor her parents and encourage the writing and appreciation of poetry. This year's outstanding festival -- featuring contemporary poets Natasha Trethewey, George Lensing, Susan Stewart and Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill -- will be held on campus April 6-8.

I am also looking forward to attending my first President's Concert April 16 in Jones Concert Hall. Under the direction of Director of Choral Activities Alan Raines, our remarkably talented students and faculty in the School of Music will perform a program of familiar favorites for chorus and orchestra.

April 12 STEPP Luncheon

Baylor is well served by an outstanding Staff Council, under the leadership of chair Ron English. I'm deeply honored to be the guest speaker at the STEPP Luncheon, one of Staff Council's most popular professional development events. The event will be held from noon to 1 p.m. April 12 in Barfield Drawing Room. STEPP is all about "Striving To Enhance Personal Performance," and I look forward to sharing my humble experiences in seeking to balance the demands of family, work, personal health and faith. Online registration is available here.

Student and Faculty Accolades

A number of Baylor students and faculty have recently been honored for their achievements. This eloquently underscores both the hard work of our students and our faculty's dedication to mentoring students.

  • Baylor's nationally-ranked debate team -- The Glenn R. Capp Debate Forum -- finished in the Elite Eight of the National Debate Tournament in Dallas, the team's strongest finish at the national championships since 1996. Congratulations to Baylor debaters John Cook, Ashley Morgan, Nate Ford and Kendall Kaut and to debate professors Matt Gerber and Scott Varda for their outstanding commitment to the promotion of argument, public advocacy and a well-informed citizenry.

  • Baylor's Institute for Oral History has been honored with the Texas Historical Commission's 2011 Award of Excellence in Preserving History for significantly contributing to the understanding or preservation of Texas history. Congratulations to the Institute's staff, Dr. Stephen Sloan, director; Lois E. Myers, associate director; Elinor Maze, senior editor; Becky Shulda, administrative associate; and Michelle Holland, editor.

  • Dr. Owen T. Lind, professor of biology, was honored by the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools as the 2011 recipient of the Excellence in Graduate Mentoring Award, which recognizes long-term success in mentoring graduate students and directing their thesis and dissertation research. Congratulations to Dr. Lind, who has directed the theses and dissertations of 30 master's and doctoral students since joining Baylor in 1966.

Athletic Event Schedule

I want to extend my thanks to Paul Bradshaw, Tom Hill and the many volunteers who organized and staged one of the most successful NCAA first and second round tournament sites of the 2011 NCAA Women's Basketball Championship. The attendance at both games illustrated the abiding love and deep appreciation we have for Coach Kim Mulkey and our Lady Bears. The enthusiastic turnout doubtless caught the attention of the NCAA as decisions are made on future tournament sites. Indeed, Waco had the highest attendance for first-round games at 8,368, and finished with a tournament total of 16,804. The efforts of campus and community reflected beautifully upon the proud partnership between Baylor and the city of Waco.

Speaking of the Lady Bears, although the season ended earlier than we had hoped, all of us who are part of the Baylor Nation are extremely proud of our team and coaches. Thank you, Coach Kim, the coaching staff and the wonderful student-athletes for a remarkable season. With gratitude for the inspiring example she set every time she took to the court, we continue to pray for a full recovery of sight for our beloved Melissa Jones.

BASEBALL: at Sam Houston State, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 5; vs. #7/8 Texas, 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 8, and at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at Baylor Ballpark; at #7/8 Texas, 1 p.m. Sunday, April 10, at Disch-Falk Field

COMPETITIVE CHEER: at NCATA National Championships April 7-11 in Eugene, Ore.

EQUESTRIAN: Varsity Equestrian National Championships, April 14-16, at Extraco Events Center in Waco

MEN'S GOLF: at Wyoming Cowboy Classic April 4-5 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

MEN'S TENNIS: at #7 Texas, 6 p.m. Wednesday, April 6; vs. Seminole State College, 1 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at Baylor Tennis Center; vs. UT-Arlington, 6 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at Baylor Tennis Center

SOFTBALL: at #22/23 Texas Tech (DH), 5 p.m. Wednesday, April 6, in Lubbock, Texas; at #14/15 Oklahoma, 2 p.m. Saturday, April 9, and noon Sunday, April 10, in Norman, Okla.

TRACK AND FIELD: at Texas Relays April 7-9, in Austin, Texas

WOMEN'S BASKETBALL: Lady Bear Appreciation Banquet, 6:30 p.m. April 14, in Ferrell Center

WOMEN'S GOLF: Baylor Spring Invitational April 11-12 in Waco

WOMEN'S TENNIS: at #12 Clemson, noon Wednesday, April 6, in Clemson, S.C.; vs. #41 Nebraska, 5 p.m. Friday, April 8, and vs. Iowa State, 1 p.m. Sunday, April 10, at Baylor Tennis Center

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