In 2018, Baylor announced purposeful, holistic plans to establish the University as the preeminent Christian research university and to pursue recognition by the Carnegie Foundation as an R1 university. In just over three years, Baylor achieved that goal, earning R1 recognition as a doctoral institution with "very high research activity." Illuminate, the University’s strategic plan, provides the framework for further growth, compelling Baylor to be a place where excellence in research advances human understanding and uncovers solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. Shaped by key input from Baylor faculty and administrators, Illuminate charts the course to impact the world in strategic areas of University strength through the establishment of five signature academic initiatives. These areas of focus include:
Throughout these areas and across the university, Baylor is committed to research marked by quality, impact and visibility, undergirded by a foundational belief that all truth is God’s truth. These pursuits are supported by Give Light, Baylor’s $1.1 billion comprehensive philanthropic campaign. The campaign focuses support on facilities, research and program initiatives, student scholarships, and faculty endowment.
An anonymous gift in May 2019 established the Baylor Academic Challenge, a fund which matches dollar-for-dollar gifts to establish endowed professorships and chairs in areas that support Illuminate's signature initiatives. This fund will provide up to 17 endowed faculty chairs and positions the University to pursue research at an accelerated pace. The fund also supports the recruitment of faculty leaders who champion academic excellence, Christian character, solutions and ideas that advance society and opportunities that shape the whole person – hallmarks of a Baylor education.