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Baylor University thrives on past, present, future

Aug. 31, 2004

By ROBERT B. SLOAN JR., president

The beginning of the school year has always been an exciting time for me. Both as a faculty member and a university president, I've enjoyed the buzz of excitement that fills the campus when new and returning students arrive.

This year's entering class is one of the

largest and most diverse we've ever enrolled. This is a place where young people come to begin standing on their own, making many of their own decisions and determining what kind of people they hope to become. I've always considered it a privilege to be in the middle of something so important.

This year is particularly special. With the completion of the Mayborn Museum Complex, the Baylor Sciences Building, and the North Village Residential Community, the campus has been transformed.

We're creating a stronger community experience. Our progress isn't limited to bricks and mortar, either. Baylor University continues to be one of the most unwired campuses in America, according to an Intel survey.

We're also building on our tradition of great faculty and low student-professor ratios. We've continued to add top scholars and teachers to our campus to diversify our expertise and increase our academic capabilities.

Baylor continues to offer students the opportunity to be much more than a number sitting in a vast auditorium or watching classes on videotape. This is a great place to learn and form relationships with mentors connected to top institutions around the globe. Among major conference schools, Baylor provides an exceptional example of a university where students know their professors and are less likely to get lost in the shuffle.

I like talking about the tremendous progress Baylor has made in facilities, hiring and admissions, but I'd be untruthful if I didn't admit I'm also excited about sports this year.

Our men's tennis team brought Baylor its first NCAA Division I national title in spring 2004. Our track and field teams have continued their stellar performance, and we all celebrated when our own Jeremy Wariner took the gold medal in the men's 400 - meter at the Olympics.

Wariner became the first sprinter in history to sweep every 400-meter title in a single year, winning the indoor and outdoor NCAA championships, the U.S. championship and the Olympic gold medal. The women's basketball team went all the way to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament and were only eliminated on what we all know was a very controversial call.

Our women's softball team made the NCAA tournament for the first time and hosted a regional at Getterman Stadium. The Lady Bear golf team also participated in their first NCAA tournament and finished in the top 20 in the nation. Basketball coach Scott Drew has a great recruiting class lined up for the men, so we expect a great season out of them, as well. Overall, Baylor sports are looking good across the board.

Of course, this is Texas and football is king. I'm a longtime Baylor alumnus and like many Baylor fans, I haven't failed to notice that this is the 30th anniversary of the "Miracle on the Brazos" when our football team upset the Texas Longhorns and went on to win the Southwestern Conference championship. Wouldn't it be great to repeat that miracle in 2004? Our home opener is Sept. 11 against Texas State University.

Sic 'em Bears.

Robert B. Sloan Jr. is president of Baylor University.