Gift to Support Baylor Built Program Will Benefit Student-Athletes

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Dec. 20, 2018

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WACO, Texas (Dec. 20, 2018) - Baylor University today celebrates generous philanthropic support for the recently launched Baylor Built program, a key component of the “Preparing Champions for Life” vision of Baylor Athletics. The gift coincides with the public launch of Give Light, a $1.1 billion comprehensive philanthropic campaign inaugurated under the leadership of Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

Begun during the fall 2018 semester for the University’s more than 500 student-athletes, Baylor Built represents a collaborative effort between departments across campus and the Baylor Student-Athlete Center for Excellence. The initiative adds a new component to the student-athlete experience through participation in specifically designed programming that elevates their development and character formation alongside academic and on-field success.

During the two years since Mack B. Rhoades IV became Baylor’s vice president and director of intercollegiate athletics in 2016, the emphasis on preparing champions for life has burgeoned into a detailed plan to invest in student-athletes in ways to build character and prepare them for life after competition.

“Character formation is an area that rises to the top when we think about what we should be doing as we develop young people,” Rhoades said. “There’s a lot of focus on developing student-athletes for competition, and we’ve done that. We’ve done that in the classroom as well. Baylor Built is the recognition that we have a great responsibility and privilege to work with young people at this critical time in their lives and ensure that when they leave Baylor, they leave better in all areas.”

Remarkable support for the program has been provided by a lead-off gift of $500,000 by Jeremy and Kristy Fudge of Parker, Texas.

“Mack’s shaping of programs to help Baylor student-athletes become ‘Champions for Life’ by stewarding the knowledge, skills and resources they have been given is truly exemplary,” Jeremy Fudge, B.A. ’97, said. “The demands on Baylor student-athletes are enormous, and to have a means of giving back to them — to strategically help them develop character traits and leadership skills — will be massively impactful for Baylor, for our community and, ultimately, for our country.”

Baylor Built promotes character formation through workshops and seminars that focus on such topics as spiritual growth, money management, healthy relationships and career goals. By the time a student-athlete graduates, he or she will have completed 48 hours of intentionally designed programs to prepare them for citizenship in post-college life. The Baylor Student-Athlete Center for Excellence, led by Marcus Sedberry, senior associate athletic director for student-athlete success, serves the holistic needs of student-athletes through academic services, sports ministry and student-athlete development.

“Growing our student-athlete development programming and staffing says that caring about our student-athletes as people is a priority,” Sedberry said. “It shows that we’re willing to invest our time, money and resources into making sure that character formation is a part of who we are as an athletic department and Baylor University.”

Baylor Built programming is designed to focus on five areas:

  • Career Development: Focuses on providing career education, professional training and assisting student-athletes with placement opportunities. Workshops and experiences include networking, interviewing, job shadowing, career management and more, with the ultimate goal of helping student-athletes identify their specific calling.
  • Leadership Development: Includes Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) leadership retreats and a leadership institute, learning about their leadership and followership styles.
  • Personal Skills: Equips student-athletes with life skills focusing on extensive financial education, healthy lifestyle and self-care.
  • Social Responsibility: Seeks to emphasize and highlight the importance of treating people with respect in all aspects of life. This focal area helps student-athletes understand the value of cultural humility and their responsibility to their community, as well as equipping them with risk reduction strategies to avoid unhealthy relationships.
  • Community Engagement: Includes opportunities to participate in community engagement service projects focused on addressing literacy, healthy lifestyles, poverty and human rights, both locally and abroad.

“Kristy and I are excited about the energy and vision Marcus Sedberry is bringing to Baylor Built and believe wholeheartedly we will see future generations of leaders across our country who will trace their start back to this program and their years at Baylor,” Jeremy Fudge said. “The direction Baylor is heading under the leadership of President Livingstone, represented by the initiatives found in the Illuminate academic strategic plan, aligns exactly with our thinking on how Christians should interact with society. We hope others will join us in coming alongside the University to support Baylor Built.”

Jeremy Fudge earned a B.A. magna cum laude from Baylor University in 1997. He currently serves as managing partner for Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP, the leading U.S. corporate immigration law firm. He leads the firm’s operations, casts vision and strategy and drives the firm’s mission and culture. Jeremy and Kristy, who are members of the Baylor Bear Foundation, are the parents of four daughters.

The many accolades for the University’s long-recognized academic success include Baylor student-athletes leading the Big 12 Conference in Graduation Success Rate (GSR) four straight years and numerous teams throughout the years posting the league’s best team GPA in their individual sports. Last year, 42 percent of Baylor student-athletes earned their personal-best GPA, and six programs had their all-time highest average term GPA.

Baylor Athletics has set a goal of raising $5 million toward an endowment for Baylor Built to cover the added annual expense and secure programmatic funding for future generations of student-athletes. More information about Baylor Built can be found at baylorbears.com/feature/baylorbuilt. To learn more about Give Light: The Campaign for Baylor, visit baylor.edu/givelight.

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.

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