Baylor Academic Challenge

The Baylor Academic Challenge's purpose is to spark the funding and creation of new endowed faculty positions at Baylor University. Funded by an anonymous Baylor family, the Challenge was created as part of a $100 million gift in support of the Give Light Campaign.

The Baylor Academic Challenge is a dollar-for-dollar matching fund with the purpose of encouraging other members of the Baylor community to step forward with leadership gifts. Those gifts, combined with their Academic Challenge match, will enable Baylor to secure new endowed faculty positions within the five initiatives of Illuminate, the University’s strategic plan.

Increasing the number of endowed faculty positions is critical for the University. Endowed positions provide an attractive recruiting tool for elite faculty who are at the tops of their fields. Within higher education, named, endowed positions are viewed as prestigious, elite attainments for faculty, providing security and crucial funding for research and teaching. These faculty will be renowned researchers and scholars from around the globe who are interested in furthering Baylor’s mission of educating young men and women for world-wide Christian leadership and service while also helping solve some of the wicked problems of the world with their cutting-edge research teams.

As Baylor works to accomplish the ambitious goals within Illuminate, the University will need faculty leaders who can spark innovation and discovery within areas of strategic growth and special emphasis, including within the five strategic initiatives of Health, Data Sciences, Materials Science, Human Flourishing, Leadership and Ethics and Baylor in Latin America.

What gifts qualify for the Academic Challenge Match?

  • Gifts by alumni, parents and friends that are designated to establish a faculty endowment within one of Illuminate’s five initiatives qualify for the Academic Challenge Match.
  • Qualifying gifts of $1.5 million or greater will be matched 1-1, with a maximum $3 million contributed from the Academic Challenge Match to produce faculty positions.
  • Proposals will be submitted by the University's academic deans to Baylor's Provost, who will make a recommendation to the President's Office to move forward with the new Faculty position.

Endowed Faculty Positions

By summer 2020, seven endowed faculty positions have been added to the University’s future academic ranks through the BAC:

  • The Jackson Family Chair for Baylor in Latin America will expand Baylor’s international footprint and advance the priorities of the Baylor in Latin America initiative.
  • The Mearse Endowed Chair in Biological and Biomedical Engineering will promote the growth and development of research and scholarly activity in biological and biomedical engineering, a priority falling within the Materials Science and Health Initiatives of Baylor’s Illuminate strategic plan.
  • The W. Grady Rosier Endowed Chair in Free Enterprise will advance innovative research and teaching that informs public policy, focusing specifically on the free enterprise system and its influence on the free market economy.
  • The James Robert Parker Endowed Chair in Health Science and Leadership will strengthen research and collaboration within the Honors College on behalf of academic discovery in the health sciences and healthcare leadership.
Learn More about the Baylor Academic Challenge
WACO, Texas (June 30, 2020) – Baylor University today announced the funding of a new endowed faculty position within the Honors College, which will provide increased emphasis within the College on research in the Health Sciences. The $1.5 million gift from Dr. James Robert (JB) Parker of Amarillo, Texas, will combine with a match from the Baylor Academic Challenge to create The James Robert Parker Endowed Chair in Health Science and Leadership.
WACO, Texas (Nov. 11, 2019) – Baylor University today announced the funding of a new endowed faculty position within the School of Engineering and Computer Science (ECS), becoming the third faculty position funded as part of the Baylor Academic Challenge matching program since its creation in May. The $1.5 million Mearse Endowed Chair in Biological and Biomedical Engineering, established by Bill and Tanya Mearse of Houston, Texas, will provide senior leadership for the emerging program within Baylor ECS.
WACO, Texas (Sept. 17, 2019) – Baylor University today announced the funding of two faculty positions under the institution’s new Baylor Academic Challenge matching program. The two $1.5 million gifts from Grady Rosier, president and CEO of the McLane Company Inc., and John and Nancy Jackson, who are Give Light National Campaign Steering Committee co-chairs, will create new faculty positions within the Hankamer School of Business and in support of the University’s Baylor in Latin America Initiative.
WACO, Texas (July 17, 2019) – Baylor University today announced that the philanthropic support of alumni, parents, students and friends during the recently completed fiscal year (June 1, 2018, to May 31, 2019) exceeded $243 million, a period coinciding with the successful public launch of the University’s $1.1 billion Give Light comprehensive philanthropic campaign.
WACO, Texas (May 17, 2019) – At its regular spring meeting, the Baylor University Board of Regents celebrated the historic $100 million gift for Baylor’s $1.1 billion Give Light comprehensive philanthropic campaign that undergirds Illuminate, the University’s strategic plan, and impacts every aspect of campus while also bolstering financial support for students and the priorities of Baylor’s 12 schools and colleges.