Dear Baylor Family,
I want you to be among the first to know that tonight we officially launched Give Light, a $1.1 billion comprehensive philanthropic campaign for the future of Baylor University. Give Light undergirds our academic strategic plan Illuminate and will impact every aspect of campus life — from academics and athletics to student life and service learning — while also bolstering financial support for students, faculty and the campus community. I can't imagine a more fitting moment to launch this testament to Baylor's bright future than on the eve of our Homecoming celebration.
As part of the festivities surrounding the launch of Give Light, Baylor also celebrated a lead gift made by Mark, BBA '79, and Paula Hurd to create a new front door to the University – the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center. This transformational gift is one of the largest in Baylor's history. The Hurd Welcome Center will be constructed at the entrance to Baylor's campus on University Parks Drive alongside Interstate 35.
The Hurd Welcome Center is slated to be a 50,000- to 60,000-square-foot complex designed to create interest and enthusiasm in the University through a high-tech and interactive experience and to serve as the epicenter for academic, cultural and social activities. Each year, more than 50,000 prospective students and their families visit campus, and Waco tourism has grown to more than 2.6 million visitors annually. The Hurd Welcome Center will be a wonderful addition to our campus, and we are immensely grateful to Mark and Paula for their transformational gift and support of the campaign's launch. As they have on many occasions, the Hurds have stepped forward as champions of excellence and as shining lights for the vital role Baylor University plays in higher education.
Our commitment to position Baylor as the preeminent Christian research university has never been stronger. For more than 170 years, Baylor has served as a source of illumination and inspiration to communities close to home and around the globe. In pursuing the success of Illuminate, we will articulate and embody an exceptional vision for 21st-century Christian higher education and produce graduates with the wisdom, innovation and leadership skills required to make a difference in the world.
With the launch of the public phase of Give Light, the University celebrated the success of a silent phase that already has propelled the campaign to nearly half its goal. Fundraising during the silent phase began with the establishment in May 2014 of five-year goals connected to the strategic vision Pro Futuris. Since that time, members of the Baylor Family have given more than $540 million and positioned the University for success in raising a total of $1.1 billion.
Since the beginning of the campaign';s silent phase, 97 gifts of $1 million or more have been made to support University priorities. Recent gifts include $11.5 million from Mark and Jennifer McCollum to establish The McCollum Family Chair in Data Sciences and support other priority areas; $2.5 million from Lynda and Robert Copple to establish The Lynda and Robert Copple Endowed Chair in Christian School Leadership; a naming gift from Stephen and Alyce Beard to establish The Stephen and Alyce A. Beard Chair in Business and Transactional Law; and a $28 million fundraising initiative for the recently dedicated Louise Herrington School of Nursing Academic Building in Dallas.
Continued fundraising during the Give Light campaign will be focused on support of endowed funds to equip faculty as teachers and researchers, provide student scholarships and launch growth priorities; expendable funds to support immediate needs, bolster athletics and provide global learning experiences; and capital projects that add physical capacity for academic and athletic growth.
I look forward to sharing more about Give Light with you in the coming months as we launch new initiatives and celebrate all who give their light to support Baylor's future. If you would like to learn more about Give Light: The Campaign for Baylor, or want to give to an area of the University that is meaningful to you, I invite you to visit baylor.edu/givelight.
This is an extraordinary moment for our University, and I am grateful for a Baylor Family that cares deeply for our students and gives light to the mission we pursue every day.
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.