Regents Approve 2006-07 Operating Budget, Authorize Construction of Willis Family Equestrian Center

April 21, 2006

Contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media relations, (254) 710-6275

Other administrative news:
O'Brien Appointed Executive Vice President and Provost
Carr Appointed Interim Vice President for Marketing and Communications

The Baylor University Board of Regents at its spring meeting today approved a $317 million operating budget for 2006-07 and authorized the construction of a new facility off of University Parks Drive for the university's intercollegiate equestrian program.

Next year's operating budget, which takes effect June 1, reflects a $21 million, or 7.1 percent, increase over the current budget. The new budget includes $11.5 million in additional merit, need-based and graduate assistant scholarships, which is a 16.3 percent increase from this year's allocation for institutional financial aid.

President John M. Lilley told regents that record student enrollments are allowing the university to restore many of the cuts that have been made in prior years' budgets. Enrollment next fall is expected to surpass 14,000 students.

The Willis Family Equestrian Center, named for Baylor graduates Richard (1981 and 1982) and Karen (1985) Willis of Colleyville who provided the lead gift for the project, will be constructed near the Baylor campus.

"We are grateful to Richard and Karen Willis for their generous financial support and enthusiasm for this project," said Baylor Athletics Director Ian McCaw. "The Willis Family Equestrian Center will afford Baylor equine student-athletes one of the nation's finest collegiate competitive facilities. The equestrian program has exceeded our expectations in its first year and we look forward to it achieving even greater success in the future."

The 45,000-square foot facility will include a covered riding arena with spectator seating, more than 20 stalls to house the horses, and restroom facilities for Baylor's newest intercollegiate athletics team, women's equestrian.

"The Willis Family Equestrian Center will be a great recruiting tool for us," said Baylor coach Ellen White. "Having our own facility will allow us to practice in great conditions and have the opportunity to host competitions. Our equestrian center will really be appealing to recruits."

Baylor has enjoyed an outstanding rookie season in the sport, qualifying for this weekend's Varsity National Championships hosted by New Mexico State University in Albuquerque, N.M. The Varsity Championships is an invitation-only tournament whose participants are determined by a selection committee. Baylor was the only first-year program invited to the 2006 championships.

Women's equestrian is the Big 12's fastest-growing sport. Since 1999, teams have been added at Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Baylor.

In other action, the board voted to award an honorary doctorate to longtime Waco businessman and philanthropist J. Harry Jeanes.

A native Wacoan and 1934 Baylor graduate, Jeanes served 18 years as a Baylor trustee, including two years as chairman in 1983 and 1984. He was elected regent emeritus in 1990.

Jeanes is a former chairman and chief executive officer of First Federal Savings and former director of Westview National Bank in Waco. Jeanes and his wife, Anna, also a 1934 Baylor graduate, have dedicated their lives to civic and service activities and have maintained a high level of interest in and support of Baylor.

The university has honored Jeanes with the W.R. White Meritorious Service Award and in 1999 with the Baylor Alumni Association's Distinguished Alumni Award. He also was a member of Baylor's Sesquicentennial Council of 150.

Together, the Jeanes have received the Herbert H. Reynolds Award, the James Huckins Medallion for their service and loyalty to Baylor, and the Founders Medal, Baylor's highest honor, in 1999 for their significant service and contributions to the life and future of the university.

The Jeanes have continued to support their alma mater, including endowing Academic Honors Week in 1993 and providing a major gift for the Harry and Anna Jeanes Discovery Center, the centerpiece of the Sue and Frank Mayborn Natural Science and Cultural History Museum Complex.

In the Waco community, Jeanes has served as president of the Waco Rotary Club, Waco Junior Chamber of Commerce, Waco Symphony Association, Waco Boys' Club board of directors, Baylor Bear Club and Baylor Business Alumni. He also has been campaign chairman for the Greater Waco United Fund and director, vice president and treasurer of the Waco Chamber of Commerce.

A recipient of the Texas Savings and Loan League Award for Outstanding Public Service, Jeanes has been a member of the executive committee of both the United States Savings and Loan League and the Federal Savings and Loan Advisory Council in Washington, D.C. Named to the Waco Rotary Club's District 587 Roll of Fame, Jeanes is a member of Masonic Lodge #92, Karen Shrine and Columbus Avenue Baptist Church.

A World War II veteran, the U.S. Army presented Jeanes with a Bronze Star on June 17, 2003, for his "meritorious" service at Iwo Jima from 1944-45.

Looking for more news from Baylor University?