Baylor Regents Approve Advanced Research Institute, Announce Plans To Mark The 400th Anniversary of Baptists

July 20, 2007

- Board also upgrades medical humanities program, hears updates on Baylor 2012, future fundraising and strategic planning -

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

The Baylor University Board of Regents concluded its three-day July retreat on Friday, approving the formation of the Baylor Advanced Research Institute (BARI) and upgrading the medical humanities program, and announced Baylor's plans to mark the 400th anniversary of the founding of the first Baptist churches with a year-long celebration beginning in fall 2008.

In his State of the University report, President John M. Lilley spoke to the board about Baylor's planned commemoration of this important period in Baptist history: John Smyth's founding of the first Baptist churches in Holland in 1609. As the world's flagship Baptist university, Lilley said Baylor will take a leadership role highlighting the significance of the Baptist heritage in scholarship, the arts, preaching and culture. Events throughout the 2008-2009 academic year are in the planning stages and will engage representatives from national and international Baptist organizations.

"As the largest and most comprehensive Baptist university, it is fitting that we would commemorate on the campus of Baylor University, the 400th anniversary of Baptists in the world," Lilley said. "We are immensely proud of our Baptist heritage, and we look forward to celebrating the wonderful tradition and conviction of that same faith which inspires all that we do today."

Baylor plans a kick-off event in early fall 2008. The university will release more details on Baylor's website ( as plans for the various events are finalized in the coming months.

In other action, with Friday's approval of Regents, the Baylor Advanced Research Institute (BARI) will further strengthen the research environment at Baylor by providing faculty with new industrially-funded research opportunities, student internships and graduate faculty funding to meet the scientific challenges of the future. The BARI's goal is to narrow the gap between discoveries in Baylor's research laboratories and their practical application in industry.

"In addition to opportunities for Baylor faculty and students, the BARI will provide both established and start-up companies with the personnel, training and infrastructure necessary for creating new financially stable high growth enterprises," said Dr. Truell W. Hyde, vice provost for research at Baylor. "This will, in turn, enhance Baylor's research and education efforts by offering students at both the graduate and undergraduate level opportunities to work closely with industrial collaborators, while experiencing research opportunities outside of the traditional academic setting."

Regents also voted to enhance Baylor's growing medical humanities program by allowing the program to seek funding from the university, external sources and grants to meet future needs. Regents approved the medical humanities minor in 2000 and incorporated the program into the College of Arts and Sciences in 2004. The medical humanities major was first offered in fall 2006. Nearly 90 students have now graduated with the medical humanities minor. In spring 2007, 36 students were majoring in the emerging field.

"Baylor's long and successful history of pre-medical education coupled with the goals and objectives of Baylor 2012 have created this need to compete for university resources," said Dr. Lee C. Nordt, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. "Baylor's medical humanities program is at the forefront of the movement in pre-medical education that incorporates the insights of the humanities into the practice of modern medicine."

"The program strengthens Baylor's tradition of participation and leadership in healthcare education, and gives Baylor pre-med and pre-health students a distinct advantage when they apply for admission to medical and other health professional schools," said Dr. James A. Marcum, associate professor of philosophy and director of the medical humanities program.

During their three-day retreat, Regents also heard updates on the implementation of Baylor 2012, the university's 10-year vision, focusing on Imperative X (Build with integrity a winning athletic tradition in all sports), Imperative XI (Emphasize global education) and Imperative XII (Achieve a $2 billion endowment).

Regents also discussed Baylor's university-wide strategic planning process and the proposed strategic proposals from faculty, students and staff that will move the university closer to the goals of Baylor 2012. The board heard a summary of the work that has been done by the university's strategic planning and executive councils to review the 59 proposals that were submitted in the strategic planning process and a description of the implementation phase of the program that will begin this fall.

During their annual July retreat, Regents also focused on the future fundraising and development needs of the university.

"I was extremely pleased with the productivity of our meetings as we discussed and deliberated the future needs of our university," said Harold Cunningham, chair of the Baylor Board of Regents. "As a board, we are committed to upholding and engaging others in support of Baylor's distinctive calling as an exemplary university with a Christian mission. We continue to move forward boldly and with great joy to accomplish the ambitious goals of Baylor 2012 under the leadership of President John Lilley."

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