Gift from Lynda and Robert Copple Will Create Chair in Christian School Leadership

Baylor SOE Copple Gift
The mission of the Baylor University School of Education is to prepare individuals, within a Christian environment, who improve society through leadership, teaching, research and service within their professions and communities. (Robert Rogers/Baylor University)
Nov. 9, 2017

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WACO, Texas (Nov. 9, 2017) - Baylor University today announced a gift of $2.5 million from Lynda and Robert Copple of Frisco that will create the Lynda and Robert Copple Endowed Chair in Christian School Leadership within Baylor University’s School of Education.

The gift will enable Baylor to attract a visionary Christian leader to lay the academic and intellectual foundations of the Center for Christian Education (CCE) and establish the Center as the preeminent provider of professional development for leaders of Christian schools and for Christian leaders in non-sectarian school settings.

“Our vision is to provide an avenue to assist educators in realizing their full potential. Our experience has shown us that there is a great need for more training and professional development to be made available to Christian educators, especially those in private schools,” Lynda Copple said. “We want to change that, and we believe Baylor is the answer. We hope our gift, when combined with the gifts of others, will create a number of opportunities for Baylor, with interdisciplinary initiatives helping to break barriers so that Christian leadership is fostered across the academy and then throughout the nation and the world.”

The inaugural holder of the Copple Chair will be a distinguished scholar with a record of deep commitment to high-quality Christian schooling and to the flourishing of Christian leaders across private and public school sectors. The Copple Chair will collaborate with the dean of the School of Education and the CCE’s executive director to develop both a research agenda focused around leadership in Christian school settings and a programmatic agenda for the CCE’s expanded activities.

“As Baylor alumni and the parents of a current Baylor student, Lynda and Robert Copple have stepped forward as truly remarkable members of the Baylor Family in making this transformational gift,” said Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D. “Their love for their alma mater and their bold vision for improving the role of Christian educators across our nation is inspiring, and their philanthropic generosity is something for which we are deeply grateful.”

Cultivating leaders

Reflecting Baylor’s Christian mission to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service, the Center for Christian Education is dedicated to advancing evidence-based approaches to educational improvement and values-driven leadership through a range of programming and resources. As it scales toward its aspired national and global leadership role, the CCE will launch a series of professional development “academies” tailored to help cultivate leader effectiveness through the sharpening of leaders’ knowledge bases, skill sets and professional identities. Once established through the Copples’ gift, and supported through additional ongoing fundraising, the academies may include such areas as the Academy on Transformative Leadership, Academy for Christian School Heads, Academy on Effective Board Leadership in Christian Schools, Christian Higher Education Leadership Seminar and others.

“Lynda and I have a passion for strengthening Christian leadership throughout educational institutions, ranging from teachers, principals and board members at public and private high schools to deans and other administrators at colleges and universities,” Robert Copple said. “Our great hope is that this Chair will become the driving force for greatly expanding the reach and impact of the Center for Christian Education and that other Baylor alumni and friends will join us as financial supporters and eager advocates of this enterprise.”

“The Center for Christian Education’s goals and Robert and Lynda Copple’s vision of strengthening Christian leadership in education are a perfect match for one another,” said Michael K. McLendon, Ph.D., interim provost at Baylor and, previously, dean of the School of Education. “The Copple Chair will have an immediate impact on furthering Baylor’s mission as a faith-based institution of higher learning. We expect to establish ourselves as a global center for research, for dissemination of evidence-based best practices for improvement of Christian schooling and for high-quality professional development for school leaders. The Copples’ gift is one of the largest in the history of the School of Education, and I am deeply grateful for Robert and Lynda’s generosity and friendship.”

Producing excellent teachers, academic leaders

The Copple Chair and expanded CCE programming promise to bring increased national visibility to Baylor’s School of Education. Founded in 1919, the School of Education ranks among the nation’s top 20 education schools located at private universities. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers, researchers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.

“The Center for Christian Education and the Copple Chair powerfully complement the School of Education’s longstanding track record of producing excellent teachers and academic leaders,” said Terrill F. Saxon, Ph.D., interim dean of the School of Education. “The Center and the Chair will complete the circle of preparing men and women to become educators and then helping seasoned educators become better at their profession and stronger in their calling.”

Lynda Moore Copple earned a B.S. in education from Baylor in 1979 and an M.A. in education from Texas Wesleyan College in 1985. She served the Arlington Independent School District (AISD) for 14 years as a teacher in every elementary grade, from kindergarten through sixth grade. She taught as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in AISD’s formative years of the program and served as a contributor to multiple district curriculum writing committees, as a teacher mentor and as a district-level teacher trainer.

Robert Copple graduated from Baylor with a B.B.A. in 1980 and an M.P.A. in 1981. After beginning his career working with clients in the tax practice at Deloitte and Touche, he spent 20 years at Cinemark Holdings, a Plano-based theater chain with more than 500 locations in the United States and 14 Latin American countries. He served Cinemark as CFO until 2014 and then as president and COO until 2016, when he left to pursue personal interests. He is a director and chairman of the board at Legacy Christian Academy in Frisco, where the Copples’ children, Lisa and John Michael, attended school. Their son, John Michael Copple, is a current Baylor student.

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 17,000 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.

ABOUT THE BAYLOR SCHOOL OF EDUCATION

Founded in 1919, Baylor School of Education ranks among the nation’s top 20 education schools located at private universities. The School’s research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice.

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