Baylor President Ken Starr Announces Leadership Team Appointments

  • Full-Size Image: News Photo 4920
    Dr. Elizabeth Davis
  • Full-Size Image: News Photo 4921
    Dr. Dennis A. Prescott
  • Full-Size Image: News Photo 4919
    Kathy Wills Wright
July 26, 2010

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Baylor University President Ken Starr today announced three appointments to his executive leadership team.

Starr announced that he has named Dr. Elizabeth Davis, BBA '84, executive vice president and provost. With the appointment, Davis becomes the first woman to serve as provost in Baylor's 165-year history.

Davis, who is professor of accounting in Baylor's Hankamer School of Business, joined the provost's office in 2004 as vice provost for financial and academic administration. She has been serving as Baylor's interim provost since July 31, 2008, when she succeeded Dr. J. Randall O'Brien, who left Baylor to assume the presidency of Carson-Newman College. As provost, Davis will be chief academic officer with permanent responsibility for all of Baylor's academic enterprises, including 11 schools and colleges and more than two dozen research centers and institutes.

"After careful consideration and guidance from the officers of the Board of Regents, executive council, council of deans and the executive committee of the Faculty Senate, Dr. Elizabeth Davis was the consensus choice to continue providing leadership as Baylor's chief academic officer on a permanent basis," Starr said. "Elizabeth is well-prepared to carry on Baylor's strong commitment to Baylor 2012, and I am pleased that she will continue to lead the academic division of the university."

"I am honored and humbled by this permanent appointment," Davis said. "I am deeply appreciative of the trust and confidence that President Starr has placed in me, and I look forward to working with him, the executive council, faculty, staff and students to accomplish our mission. We are seeing the bold vision of Baylor 2012 become a reality, and the university's prospects for future success couldn't be higher."

Starr also announced that Dr. Dennis Prescott will transition from vice president for development into the newly created role of vice president and special advisor to the president for advancement.

In this function, Prescott will assist the president in identifying the university's development needs and priorities, and with campaign planning and management. Prescott has led Baylor's development office since January 2007, after coming to Baylor from Mississippi State University, where he was vice president for external affairs and chief executive officer of the MSU Foundation. He will continue to be a valued member of the president's executive council.

"Dennis and I both agreed that this role is extremely important to our future development efforts and that he is the ideal person to take on these responsibilities," Starr said. "I value Dennis's experience tremendously and believe his contributions in this capacity will be instrumental in helping to set the proper course towards achieving our ambitious fundraising goals."

"I am very pleased that President Starr has asked me to take on this role of better positioning Baylor's development efforts for future fundraising campaigns," Prescott said. "I'm energized by this opportunity, and look forward to working with President Starr and others to help Baylor realize its ambitious plan to build university endowment."

Starr also announced that he has appointed Kathy Wills Wright, BSEd '85, MSEd '88, to the newly created position of senior vice president for strategic initiatives and partnerships. In addition, Wright, who is currently a fundraising consultant in the Washington, D.C., area, will serve as interim vice president for development, as the university prepares to launch a national search for the position. Wright, who will become a member of the executive council, has resigned her seat on Baylor's Board of Regents.

"The wealth of experience and skills that made Kathy a valued member of our Board of Regents will make her even more valuable as a member of Baylor's administrative leadership team," Starr said. "She is a professionally accomplished Baylor alumna who cares deeply about Baylor's distinct role in American higher education. Already well known and widely respected as a gifted communicator and fundraiser, she will focus solely on building strategic partnerships with other organizations and individuals that will help boost Baylor's prominence and support among those who share our vision and desire to support our mission."

Wright has 25 years of experience in communications, marketing, fundraising and government relations. She held several political appointments in the George W. Bush Administration, including serving as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of the USA Freedom Corps at the White House and Special Assistant to the President for Legislation and Policy in the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI).

Prior to serving in the White House, Wright served at the United States Department of State as the Senior Advisor to the Secretary (Gen. Colin Powell) and the White House Liaison, where she advised the Secretary on Presidential appointments, ambassadorships, boards, commissions and UN delegations.

"I'm delighted to have the opportunity to be a part of the future of Baylor. The education I received provided a strong foundation for life-long personal, professional and spiritual growth, and my admiration for Baylor has only grown since my days on campus," Wright said. "I believe Baylor is the worldwide leader at the intersection of faith and learning. It will be an honor and privilege to serve President Ken Starr as he takes Baylor to new heights of Christian education both nationally and internationally."

"With these appointments I am confident that we have in place a remarkably strong executive management team that can work in partnership with our faculty, staff, students and alumni to continue our strong trajectory and further establish our position as a leading Christian research university," Starr said.

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

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