Baylor Regents Approve Ph.D. Program in Computer Science, Joint Graduate Degree Program in Athletic Training; Name Athletic Performance Center

  • Martin Hall
    Martin Hall on the campus of Baylor University will be the fourth of 10 existing residence halls to be refurbished over eight years.
  • Martin Hall rendering upper space
    Architectural rendering of the upper level public space in Martin Hall.
  • Martin Hall rendering main lobby
    Architectural rendering of the main lobby in Martin Hall.
Feb. 16, 2016

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, 254-710-6275

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WACO, Texas (Feb. 16, 2016) — Baylor University’s Board of Regents has approved two new degree plans — one for a doctoral degree program in computer science that is expected to nearly double research output, and the other for a joint graduate degree program in athletic training that will allow students to enter the workforce sooner.

The board took the action on Friday at its regular February meeting.

“Among companies that have hired Baylor computer science graduates are NASA, IBM, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon, as well as research universities. The Ph.D. in computer science will ensure the department will increase its contribution to the discipline,” said Dennis O’Neal, Ph.D., dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science. “Baylor will be a first-order contributor and collaborator in the area of big data, which is poised to make a generational impact on how everyone interacts with the world of data surrounding us.”

“With the approval of a joint degree in athletic training, Baylor will offer the first such degree at a research-intensive university of comparable size in the nation,” said Rodney G. Bowden, Ph.D., interim dean of the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences and Brown Foundation Endowed Chair.

The joint degree program, through the creation of the Pre-A.T. Health Science Studies track, will allow students to complete two degrees – the B.S.Ed. in Health Science Studies and a Master of Athletic Training (M.A.T.) – within five years.

“The joint degree program will give Baylor University students a unique opportunity to pursue an M.A.T. while allowing them to enter the workforce one year earlier with significant experience in their discipline,” Bowden said.

Board Approves Facility Renovations

During its meeting, the board also approved plans for renovations within the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center. Among the improvements will be a new student-athlete performance center to be named in honor of the Ratliff family, who provided the lead gift for the project. The Weldon and Margaret Ratliff Performance Center will include technologies used to monitor athletes’ performance on and off the field; flooring and weight room equipment; video technologies; and lobby enhancements. The completion date is scheduled for Aug. 1.

“During its meeting, the board engaged in active conversation, enacting programs that will help us continue to move Baylor forward as we continue to occupy a special role in American higher education as a Christian research university, but also to consider things that we can and must do better in the future,” said Richard S Willis, B.B.A. ’81, M.B.A. ’82, chair of the Baylor Board of Regents. “Our commitment continues to be providing our students with a transformative education that will impact them throughout their lives, and, subsequently, impact our world in real, tangible and meaningful ways.”

The board also approved:

  • $13 million to renovate Martin Residence Hall, a 60,000-square-foot building with 264 planned beds. The appropriation is part of the University’s master plan to renovate 10 campus residence halls. Among the renovations will be an improved public space on the upper level and a new faculty-in-residence apartment. Construction is scheduled to begin in mid-May of this year, with substantial completion scheduled for June 30, 2017.
  • $1 million for maintenance and capital projects on upper-division and transfer-student residential facilities scheduled for completion during summer 2016. Those include work at the Arbors Apartments, University Parks Apartments and Brooks Flats.

Campus Carry

In his report to the board, Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr announced that after consultation with Baylor students, faculty and staff, Baylor will opt out of Texas Senate Bill 11 (known as the campus carry law), according to provisions allowed in the legislation, signed by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on June 1, 2015. President Starr highlighted the robust debate by Faculty Senate and Staff Council and the extensive work of Student Government, who sought feedback through two weeks of educational events, a panel discussion, public deliberation session, focus groups and a student online poll.

“The University community has come together to consider this matter, and we are grateful to our Faculty Senate, Staff Council and Student Government that actively engaged our campus and sought feedback on this important issue,” Starr said. “Regardless of where our faculty, staff and students stand on the issue, we do know that they care deeply about the safety of our campus. We applaud and appreciate the deliberate process undertaken by our campus community and their invaluable contributions to the University’s response on campus carry.”


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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