Baylor Regents Pass COVID-19 Resolution for Fall Semester, Approve 2020-2021 Budget, Hear Progress on Illuminate, Give Light Campaign
Board also announces new leadership and new Regents, approves new Ph.D. programs, dual-track master’s program
WACO, Texas (May 15, 2020) – At its regular spring meeting, the Baylor University Board of Regents approved a $679.9 million annual operating budget for 2020-2021 and passed a resolution supporting the University’s continued commitment to its academic and Christian mission, while prioritizing the health and safety of the Baylor campus community amid the health risks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, the Board approved new leadership, committee chairs and new Regents and received an update from President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., regarding progress on the Illuminate strategic plan and the Give Light comprehensive fundraising campaign, the guiding principles for reopening campus this fall and other impacts related to COVID-19.
The Board’s resolution expressed appreciation for the faculty, staff and administration for remaining committed to the “spiritual, intellectual, emotional and physical development and well-being” of students while moving “quickly and efficiently” to a distance learning model during the spring and summer semesters. The Board also praised Baylor students for their “commitment, resilience and flexibility.”
Adding that the “health and safety needs of the Baylor campus community must remain paramount,” the Board’s resolution authorized President Livingstone and the University’s administration to “take all necessary actions to ensure a return to a safe and educationally fulfilling on-campus environment” in the fall, including:
- 1. To study, and when appropriate, implement systems for testing for the COVID-19 virus for members of the Baylor community using on-campus facilities;
- 2. To work with the Baylor University Health Services and the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District to establish contact tracing, isolation and quarantine processes for the Baylor campus community;
- 3. To accommodate in a reasonable and practical manner the health needs of students, faculty and staff who are at-risk for the COVID-19 virus;
- 4. To study, and if appropriate, implement occupancy limits, sanitation standards, social distancing measures, the application of face coverings and any other government recommended or mandated processes for Baylor facilities and buildings;
- 5. To study, research and implement academic schedules which, while always consistent with all federal and state medical and health guidance and accreditation standards, provide for enriching and rewarding learning experiences in each class taught at Baylor;
- 6. To explore creative and innovative measures to preserve Baylor’s time-honored traditions in order to enrich and supplement the University’s educational and residential experience; and
- 7. To receive and study guidance from athletic conferences, federal and state medical and health officials for the return of intercollegiate athletics for the benefit of the University’s student-athletes and community overall.
The full resolution is available on the Board of Regents website at www.baylor.edu/boardofregents/doc.php/356255.pdf.
“The Board focused much of its discussion on the University’s response and plans related to COVID-19, but it was important to all Regents that we publicly expressed our support and appreciation for the leadership of President Livingstone and the President’s Council, as well as for our faculty, staff and students,” said Board Chair Jerry K. Clements, J.D. ’81. “This is an unprecedented time for all of higher education, and Baylor is not immune to the uncertainty. The Board remains focused on preserving and strengthening the University’s core academic and Christian mission while ensuring the continued health and safety of our campus community.”
On Friday, President Livingstone gave her quarterly report to the Board, which focused on significant progress on the Illuminate strategic plan and the University’s Tier 1/Research 1 aspirations, as well as the Give Light campaign that undergirds the strategic plan.
The President reported that the University exceeded stretch goals of research expenditures, shifting from a 10% annual growth rate to 30% over the past year, and submitted research proposals, which increased to 469. Additionally, research awards grew to $22 million, a 21% increase over the previous fiscal year.
President Livingstone updated the Board on the Give Light philanthropic campaign, which – as of April 30 – has raised $864.3 million toward the $1.1 billion goal, and the Baylor Academic Challenge, created last year as part of a $100 million gift in support of the comprehensive campaign. The challenge provides a dollar-for-dollar matching fund, with minimum of $1.5 million and maximum of $3 million, to create new endowed faculty positions within Illuminate’s five strategic initiatives. The University has secured nine commitments to date for new endowed faculty chairs.
The Board conducted its annual performance evaluation of President Livingstone and commended her for exemplary performance and leadership over the past year, particularly regarding the University’s response to COVID-19. Significant progress has been made across many areas, the Regents noted, including strategic planning and implementation, fundraising, business operations, hiring and overall compliance. By mutual agreement of the Regents and President Livingstone during these times of financial uncertainty, she will not receive a contractually obligated compensation increase in recognition of the University-wide decision to limit additional and elevated compensation in the upcoming fiscal year.
Plans for reopening campus this fall
Baylor has developed a five-phase return to campus plan over the summer for faculty and staff beginning June 1 and articulated its intentions to safely resume on-campus teaching, learning and residential life for the fall 2020 semester. President Livingstone presented five guiding principles as part of the planning process for the upcoming academic year:
- Unwavering duty to Christian mission and values.
- Continued commitment to progress on Illuminate.
- Safe on-campus educational experience.
- Flexible instructional delivery based on social distancing guidance/COVID-19 persistence.
- Preservation of Baylor traditions through creativity.
The President’s Council has established “Project 8.24,” which involves a campus-wide team that is working with the Provost’s Office, Division of Student Life and other groups to develop and evaluate plans and decision timelines for a successful start of the fall semester on Aug. 24. The plans are highly dependent on the continued decline in the number of COVID-19 cases within the greater Waco area, as well as guidance from federal, state and local government and public health officials, the President said.
“We will be preparing for a ‘new normal’ during the fall semester, and we anticipate many adaptations and accommodations in the weeks and months ahead to our normal fall activities and schedule as we face continued challenges from COVID-19,” President Livingstone said. “While we cannot eliminate all risks, we intend to mitigate these risks in every reasonable way we can. Over the summer, we will work diligently to refine our preparations to create a safe, productive educational environment, but above all, the health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and guests must lead our decision-making regarding all activities. These include adapting our classroom and residential life models and on-campus activities, as needed, while continuing to offer the distinct on-campus college experience for which Baylor is known.”
2020-2021 Operating Budget Approved
As higher education continues to face significant headwinds – both now and into the future – caused by COVID-19, a recent national survey by higher education research firm SimpsonScarborough found that:
- 40% of incoming freshmen not yet deposited are uncertain they can stay with their first college choice,
- 12% of students already deposited will change plans and not enroll at a four-year school in the fall.
- 52% of students report a parent/guardian lost his or her job, been laid off or furloughed.
- 26% of current students indicated they will not return to their current institution – an increase of 12% in just three weeks.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every sector globally, and for higher education in particular, has created some structural economic challenges that are complex and could be catastrophic for some universities,” Clements said. “The Board has the fiduciary responsibility to provide Baylor’s leadership with strategic guidance and foresight, even in the face of many unknowns and uncertainties, to position the University for long-term success in response to COVID-19 and continuity in fulfilling our core academic purpose and historic Christian mission.”
In mid-April, President Livingstone and the administration outlined three potential budget impact scenarios relating to COVID-19. The “best case” and “moderate case” scenarios correlated to $65 million to $80 million in budgetary actions that would be reflected in the FY20-21 University budget for presentation to the Board. The operating budget approved by the Board today incorporates $73.3 million in budgetary actions encompassing cost avoidances ($18.5 million), cost reductions ($30.3 million) and one-time funding reallocations ($24.5 million) in response to COVID-19. The $679.9 million budget for 2020-2021 is $14.2 million less than last year, or a 2.1% overall decrease.
While taking strategic care to protect the core academic mission of Baylor, these cost avoidance, cost reduction and revenue reallocation strategies impact each major Division’s FY20-21 operating budget by the following percentages:
- Academy: 4.2%
- Student Life 5.7%
- Athletics 8.8%
- Administration and Support Functions 19.7%
- Total 10.4%
“The Board is appreciative of the prudent, thoughtful actions taken by the President and her team during this period of great financial uncertainty,” Clements said. “Baylor’s proactive, aggressive actions in response to COVID-19 early in the semester places the University in a good financial position and provides flexibility for additional actions if needed or for strategic reinvestments should conditions materially improve. The Board will have quarterly budget look-ins throughout the upcoming fiscal year, or more frequent as needed, to ensure Baylor’s ongoing financial stability in response to COVID-19.”
President Livingstone indicated that each University Division will implement specific plans to meet their assigned budget parameters. This will allow each vice president to strategically position their respective units in alignment with Illuminate and the University’s overall objectives, instead of across-the-board cuts that could harm the University’s overall trajectory.
“We understand that these budget actions will affect our faculty and staff in many ways, including the suspension of merit increases until at least January, a reduction in Baylor’s employee retirement contributions, decision that will be reviewed in two years, and a strategic reduction of staffing levels in some parts of the University,” President Livingstone said. “These are certainly difficult decisions, but necessary for the greater University given this time of significant uncertainty and to fulfill our mission and aspirations of becoming a preeminent Christian research university.”
New graduate degree programs approved
The Board also approved three new graduate degree programs:
- Ph.D. in Communication Sciences and Disorders, which addresses a critical need in the field for individuals trained at the Ph.D. level, with future graduates reflecting Baylor’s servant leadership at the highest level of research skill.
- Ph.D. in School Psychology, a five-year full-time program with the fifth year consisting of a yearlong internship that addresses a significant shortage of doctoral-level school psychologists in the United States, whether as faculty in academic and medical universities or licensed psychologists in private practice or in public schools.
- Dual-Track Master of Arts in School Leadership, which will extend Baylor’s preparation of emerging school leaders in public and private schools through a hybrid program of on-campus and online learning in conjunction with Baylor’s Center for Christian Education that will allow leaders to remain in their current professional roles while completing their degree and culminating research project in 18 months.
Board approves new leadership, committee chairs, new Regents
Regents voted to approve officers and committee chairs, who also will serve on the Executive Committee, for 2020-2021.
Elected as chair and vice chairs are:
• Mark Rountree, B.B.A. ’86, M.T.A. ’87, of Dallas, Chair.
• Larry P. Heard, B.B.A. ’80, of Houston, Vice Chair.
• Melissa Purdy Mines, B.A. ’90, of Austin, Vice Chair.
• Dennis R. Wiles, Ph.D., of Arlington, Vice Chair.
Elected as committee chairs:
• Academic Affairs – Jennifer Walker Elrod, B.A. ’88, of Houston, Chair, and Alicia D.H. Monroe, M.D., of Missouri City, Texas, Vice Chair.
• Advancement and Development – Dan Hord III, B.B.A. ’89, of Midland, Chair, and Julie Hermansen Turner, B.B.A. ’67, M.S.E.D ’68, of Dallas, Vice Chair.
• Audit – Jill Manning, B.B.A. ’84, of Dallas, Chair, and Sarah Gahm, B.S. ’84, M.H.A., of Dallas, Vice Chair.
• Compliance and Regulatory Affairs – William Mearse, B.B.A. ’78, Chair, and Mark E. Lovvorn, B.B.A. ’76, B.Acc. ’77, of Dallas, Vice Chair.
• Finance and Facilities – Todd Reppert, B.B.A. ’91, of Houston, Chair, and Manny Ruiz, B.B.A. (Marketing/Management) ’81, of San Antonio, Vice Chair.
• Nominating, Governance and Regent Leadership – Randolph (Randy) L. Pullin, B.B.A. '82, of Houston, Chair, and Melissa Purdy Mines, B.A. ’90, of Austin, Vice Chair.
• Student Life – Kim Wilson Stevens, B.S.Ed. ’93, of Waco, Chair, and Shelley Giglio, B.B.A. ’86, of Atlanta, Georgia, Vice Chair.
• University Leadership and Compensation – J. Cary Gray, B.A. ’79, B.Acc. ’80, J.D. ’83, of Houston, Chair, and Neal Jeffrey, B.B.A. ’75, of Plano, Vice Chair.
In other action, the Board elected three new at-large Regents:
• Paula R. Hurd, B.B.A., of Atherton, California – three-year term; community volunteer and philanthropist.
• Todd Patterson, B.S. (Dentistry) ’90, J.D., of Richmond, Texas – three-year term; partner, Patterson & Sheridan LLP.
• Melissa Purdy Mines, B.A. ’90, of Austin – second three-year term; previously served a three-year term as an Alumni-elected Regent.
Elected by Baylor alumni and welcomed by the Board to a three-year term as an alumni-elected Regent is:
• Kristina (Krissy) Doerner Guidi, BA (University Scholar) ’00, of McLean, Virginia; attorney, Securities and Exchange Commission.
Guidi received 3,470 votes of the 7,530 Baylor graduates who voted in the spring election, which was administered and certified by Election-America Inc. Other alumni-elected Regent candidates included Brenda Rowland Sims (2,053 votes) and Bradley (Brad) T. Steele (2,007 votes).
Regents re-elected by the Board to three-year teams are:
• Mark E. Lovvorn, B.B.A. ’76, B.Acc. ’77, of Dallas – final three-year term.
• Neal Jeffrey, B.B.A. ’75, of Plano – final three-year term.
• Jill Manning, B.B.A. ’84, of Dallas – second three-year term.
• Alicia D.H. Monroe, M.D., of Missouri City, Texas – second three-year term.
Regents appointed or reappointed by the Baptist General Convention of Texas last fall and confirmed by the Board are:
• Michael A. Evans Sr., B.A., M.Div., D.Min. (Theology) ’09, of Mansfield, Texas – first three-year term; pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church.
• Dennis R. Wiles, Ph.D., of Arlington – final three-year term.
Regent nominated by the Baylor Bear Foundation and approved by the Board:
• Faith Beaty, B.S., M.B.A., of Highland Village, Texas – three-year term; director of marketing and communications, DNV GL Business Assurance Americas.
Faculty Regent confirmed by the Board for a three-year term:
• Sara L. Dolan, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and neuroscience and graduate program, director of the Psy.D. program.
Student Regent approved by the Board:
• Sher Isada, a junior University Scholar from Euless, Texas – two-year term (voting member in the second year).
• Cassidy Parshall, a senior Baylor Business Fellow and finance major on the premedical track from Colleyville, Texas – (second-year voting member).
All terms begin on June 1.
Members who have completed their service on the Board are Regent Joel T. Allison, Regent Miles “Jay” Allison, Regent Kenneth “Ken” Q. Carlile, Regent and Chair Jerry K. Clements, Regent Milton Hixson, Regent Emeritus Drayton McLane Jr., Regent Mark A. McCollum, Regent C. Clifton Robinson, Student Regent Malcolm Foley, “B” Association Regent Dusty Sanderson and Faculty Regent Gaynor Yancey, Ph.D.
“It has been a privilege and a blessing to work closely with Jerry Clements as she skillfully led the Board over the past year,” President Livingstone said. “I look forward to working with Mark Rountree as Board Chair during the upcoming year as we thoughtfully and strategically face the significant challenges before Baylor and all of higher education due to the uncertainty from COVID-19. I believe Baylor is prepared to weather the impacts of COVID-19 and positioned for a strong recovery into the future. I am deeply grateful to our dedicated volunteer Board of Regents, who have walked alongside us, sharing their experience and expertise while they manage this pandemic from their leadership roles in business, education, healthcare, law and churches. All of us – Regents, administrators, faculty and staff – are committed to being good stewards of the 175-year Baylor legacy entrusted to us.”
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 18,000 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 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.