Baylor Regents Approve New Joint Seminary/Education Degree, Infrastructure Work on Seventh Street

Truett Seminary Spire
George W. Truett Theological Seminary, Baylor University (Matthew Minard/Baylor Marketing & Communications)
July 22, 2016

Board hears reports on Title IX, diversity; approves lowest percentage tuition increase in more than 20 years; focuses retreat on best practices in board governance

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WACO, Texas (July 22, 2016) – Baylor University’s Board of Regents has approved a new joint master’s degree program that links the faculties, resources and classes of two of Baylor’s premier schools, George W. Truett Theological Seminary and the School of Education.

At its annual summer meeting, the board approved the master of divinity and master of science in education/master of arts (M.Div./M.S.Ed. or M.Div./M.A.) joint degree program. It is designed to prepare students as ministers who can employ the latest educational philosophies, strategies and methods in congregational ministry environments, as well as in public and private educational settings.

The new program is expected to begin in summer 2017. It is the fifth joint degree at Baylor along with the M.Div./M.M. (Music), M.Div./M.S.W. (Social Work), M.Div./M.B.A. (Business) and M.Div./J.D. (Law).

The board also approved $2 million to improve the electrical utility and technology infrastructure along Seventh Street on campus. The work will begin this fall and be completed in spring 2017.

Reports on Title IX, Diversity

Regents heard reports on Title IX from Interim President David Garland; L. Gregory Jones, Ph.D., executive vice president and provost; and Reagan Ramsower, Ph.D., senior vice president and chief operating officer, as the University implements the 105 recommendations made by Pepper Hamilton LLP, following its independent investigation into the University’s response to reports of sexual violence within its student community. Ramsower leads the University’s Sexual Assault Task Force, while Jones leads the Spiritual Life and Character Formation Task Force. Both task forces were named in June and have begun their work to implement change that leads to improved processes, communication, training and response and that cultivates a culture of respect and character that reflects Baylor’s mission.

“The Task Forces have been steadily making progress on the recommendations we have adopted as mandates. Their work is moving forward on all fronts,” said President Garland. “We’ve seen additional enhancements in services such as counseling and Title IX and have begun forming expectations for a Chief Compliance Officer, testing software that will help key departments identify trends in student behavior, developing plans for a culture and climate survey, and training employees designated as campus security authorities on Clery compliance obligations.”

During Regent committee meetings, the Academic and Student Affairs Committee heard a presentation on “Cultivating a More Diverse and Collaborative Community” by Kevin P. Jackson, Ph.D., vice president for student life; Lori E. Baker, Ph.D., non-voting Faculty Regent, associate professor of anthropology and vice provost for strategic initiatives, collaboration and leadership development; and Elizabeth D. Palacios, Ph.D., dean for student development and special assistant to the President on diversity. The presentation provided updates on new initiatives, progress on priorities identified by students regarding diversity and inclusion, and on coordinated efforts across the University to bring about cultural change among all students, faculty and staff.

“Baylor offers countless opportunities to honor each individual’s experiences, their perspectives and their rich diversity as a part of a transformational educational experience,” President Garland said. “As one Baylor family, we must work together to practice inclusion, to live graciously with each other, to listen to each other with empathy and humility and to challenge each other with integrity both academically and spiritually in order to promote the institutional excellence and Christian identity that we all cherish.”

Tuition and fees for 2017-2018

The board also set tuition and fees for 2017-2018. Because of the University’s continued financial strength and judicious stewardship of its resources, Regents voted to increase undergraduate tuition for the fall 2017 and spring 2018 academic year by 4.25 percent, the lowest percentage increase in more than 20 years and well below the average percentage increase over the last 26 years.

With its flat-rate tuition structure, Baylor’s tuition will be $39,610 for the 2017-2018 academic year (or $19,805 per fall and spring semesters), while the general student fee will be $4,180 for the 2017-2018 academic year (or $2,090 per fall and spring semesters). Tuition for graduate and professional programs will increase similarly.

The board continues to work actively to reduce tuition increases and bolster affordability initiatives by allocating an additional $15.2 million for merit and need-based scholarships for the 2017-2018 academic year and lowering the premium to opt in to the University’s Guaranteed Tuition Option (GTO). By participating in the GTO, students can lock in a tuition rate – which is initially higher than the regular rate – that will not increase over the student’s 48-month enrollment period. The GTO tuition, beginning in fall 2017, will be $41,060, which results in a reduced average percentage increase year over year and an overall cost savings at the end of the enrollment period.

“The board is fervently committed to nurturing an environment where academic rigor, spiritual life and character formation can flourish, but also one that provides access and affordability for families and their students who dream of pursuing a high-quality and distinctive Baylor degree,” said Ronald D. Murff, B.B.A. ’75, chair of the Board of Regents. “The University is providing more financial assistance to students than at any other time in our history, and we are working hard to attract, retain and graduate young people who are guided by their faith and strengthened by their Baylor education to make a difference in our diverse world as global citizens and leaders.”

Baylor’s tuition and required fees continue to remain lower than peer private institutions in Texas, including Rice, Southern Methodist University and Texas Christian University, and well below those of most private universities of comparable size outside of Texas, such as Boston University, Northeastern, New York University, Cornell University and University of Southern California.

In addition to providing students with the highest quality Christian education, the increase will allow Baylor to support its current operations, provide for new faculty and staff hires, create a merit raise pool for faculty and staff, fund priorities within Pro Futuris, such as investments in new research and graduate initiatives, and maintain a growing University campus.

Board retreat focuses on governance, celebration of local partnership

The summer meeting also included the annual board retreat with new Regent orientation and a daylong presentation and discussion on best practices in board governance. Board members heard from a panel of students who challenged members to maintain their focus on the complex needs of students as well as from Dr. Cathy A. Trower, president and a principal of Trower & Trower Inc. Dr. Trower provides governance consulting services to nonprofit organizations, including colleges and universities, hospitals and healthcare systems, independent schools, foundations and community service organizations.

“Our retreat focused solely on board governance and how a board can best and most effectively manage its oversight of a university,” Murff said. “The student panelists inspired us and Dr. Trower challenged us and helped our board refine what we already have in place and identify improvements that will help position the University to achieve its mission well into the future.”

The Board approved the creation of an Executive Committee. This standard best practice will improve efficiencies of the Board’s work and ensure clear lines of communication, effective oversight of University priorities and closer alignment of Board priorities to the operational needs of the University.

“As we continue to operationalize the recommendations adopted following the Pepper Hamilton review, it is evident that an Executive Committee could be helpful to improving the Board’s role in oversight and enforcement of governance and fiduciary responsibilities to the Universities,” Murff said. “We are excited about the opportunities this new structure provides the Board in improving its ability to work effectively and efficiently to support the work of the University.”

Regents participating in their first board meeting were:

  • Daniel H. Chapman, B.B.A. ’66, M.B.A. ’73, of Dallas and Crested Butte, Colorado
  • Wayne Fisher, B.B.A./J.D. ’61, of Houston
  • Julie Hermansen Turner, B.A. ’67, M.S. ’68, of Dallas
  • Mark Rountree, B.B.A. ’86, M.T.A. ’87, of Coppell
  • Emily Neel, non-voting Student Regent, junior pre-business major from Waco
  • Daniel S. Thomas, non-voting Student Regent, senior Baylor Business Fellow from Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Brett Beene, B.B.A. ’87, of Mexia, Texas, non-voting Regent member, Bear Foundation

During a Thursday luncheon at the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative, Regents celebrated and reaffirmed the strong commitment to the Baylor-Waco partnership. Invited guests included city, county and chamber officials, local nonprofit and downtown development leaders, as well as local school district officials.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 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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