2021-22 Student Life Annual Report

This year was once again marked by extraordinary opportunities, as we welcomed, supported, and helped create a high-impact living, learning and spiritually formative environment for the largest undergraduate class in Baylor's history (4,271 freshmen and over 20,000 total students) while leading through two surges of COVID-19, each coinciding with the start of the fall and spring semesters.  Drawing upon what we learned in the previous year and resolute to adjust as needed to both safeguard our campus and surrounding community while providing as cherished a Baylor experience as possible, we established five overarching priorities toward which to work in FY22: 

  1. Rebuild Student Engagement & Involvement to Near Pre-COVID Levels

  2. Broaden Student Faith Formation and Discipleship Experiences

  3. Enhance Student Health and Well-being Intervention Strategies

  4. Strengthen Understanding and Support of an Increasingly Diverse Student Body

  5. Create New & Leverage Existing Spaces for Student Learning, Living, & Leadership Experiences


Rebuild Student Engagement & Involvement to Near Pre-COVID Levels

Students were both eager, and at times hesitant, to reengage in campus life after experiencing multiple semesters substantively disrupted by COVID-19. While still taking thoughtful precautions, this year we were able to take additional steps toward offering in-person engagement and involvement at a level comparable to what we offered pre-COVID. This effort was headlined by the restoration of cherished Baylor traditions such as:

  • Late Night (7,000+ students)
  • Family Weekend (5,000+ attendees)
  • Homecoming (10,000+ attendees)
  • All-University Thanksgiving Dinner (8,000+ attendees)
  • Christmas on 5th (9,000+ attendees)
  • All-University Sing (12,000+ attendees)
  • Diadeloso (6,000+ attendees).

We also had strong participation in student involvement opportunities. For example, we started the year with record levels of participation in Orientation (3,190 student) and Baylor Line Camp (2,931 students) which we achieved by expanding our in-person and online offerings and awarding over 350 Line Camp scholarships for Pell-eligible and first-generation students. This momentum continued over the course of the year with 65% of students participating in one (or more) of our 360+ student organizations. Specifically, Fraternity & Sorority Life had record engagement, with over 1,200 women and 400 men participating in recruitment, and total Greek participation exceeding 4,300 students. After this recruitment cycle, 37% of undergraduate females are now involved in a sorority and 19% of undergraduate males are involved in a fraternity.

We also reestablished opportunities for community service and engagement, punctuated by events such as Steppin’ Out (fall and spring), Santa’s Workshop, and MLK Day of Service, which encouraged over 3,500 students to participate in over 14,500 hours of community service, collect close to 15,000 personal care and food donations, and raise over $5,000. Further, with our colleagues in Athletics experiencing impressive success throughout the year, we facilitated spirited student engagement, bringing 150 students to the Sugar Bowl, hosting 700+ students for College Gameday Campout, and stewarding record student participation in basketball attendance (through the BearPit and the Sponsored Student Organization of the Game).

 
Broaden Student Faith Formation and Discipleship Experiences

Chapel is a hallmark of the Baylor experience and following a period of largely online offerings (due to COVID-19), this year we reinitiated and greatly expanded our in-person, and specifically small and focused, chapel offerings. From Spring ‘21 to Fall ’21 chapel options increased by 50% (to 15), and by 120% (to 22) from Spring ‘21 to Spring ‘22 with a goal of designing and implementing 31 chapel options by next fall.  In doing so, we are implementing one of the recommendations of the Faith and Character Study by increasing the ability for students to choose a spiritually formative experience that more closely aligns with their area of need and/or interest and expanding our capacity for in-person chapel experiences. Examples of chapel options include Faith in the Healing Professions, Faith and Business, and Faith and Veterans. Engagement with campus ministries was also strengthened during the year with 25 active campus ministries, including two newly chartered ones, collectively scheduling over 1000 opportunities for students to engage spiritually. One particularly noteworthy event was FM72—a collaborative undertaking of Baylor, campus ministries, and local churches where students gathered for 72 hours to pray, worship, and proclaim “I’d rather have Jesus!” Over 4,000 students attended in-person, 1400+ livestreamed some portion of the event, and over 60,000 social media impressions were generated.

"This chapel class was really special to me because it taught me that my faith and my passion for sports don't have to be two separate things. After being in this chapel, it's much clearer to me that God really is in every aspect of our lives."

During the year, we also maintained a strong ministry of presence on campus, meeting the spiritual needs of students by being available in the places they are. For example, our Sports Ministry team provided active ministry presence on all 21 Division I athletic teams, leading Bible studies, discipling students, and offering missions trip opportunities for student-athletes. Another example is the 16 Resident Chaplains that live and minister in our residence halls, plus our two affinity chaplains, one embedded in the Beauchamp Addiction Recovery Center (BARC) and the other in Multicultural Affairs. Lastly, although COVID-19 has greatly limited our ability to travel, our Missions and Public Life team launched an innovative approach to being the hands and feet of Christ known as BearAid Disaster Relief, a domestic disaster relief program, with a dedicated semi-trailer which allowed them to aid recovery efforts and distribute supplies in places like Mayfield, KY after a tornado and LaPlace, LA after Hurricane Ida. Toward the end of this year, we have also been able to relaunch global mission trips and since March have sent out eight trips and over 100 people.

 
Enhance Student Health and Well-being Intervention Strategies

Protecting the health and well-being of our students, faculty, and staff has always been a top priority of the University. That said, the pandemic created new challenges that required a level of response never before experienced. To that end, our cross-University Health Management Team, chaired and supported by Division of Student Life staff, has been a critical factor in the University being able to implement the health protective measures needed to maintain in-person classes and events throughout the year and support business continuity planning. Our Health Center was critical in this effort as well, serving on the frontlines to provide comprehensive medical services to students. These services included: 

  • Administering 12,885 COVID vaccines in the last two years and this past year administering over 7,000 COVID tests to students who were symptomatic or a close contact.
  • Health Center staff also partnered with MyLabsDirect to conduct preventative surveillance testing, and through that partnership have administered an additional 110,860 tests to students, staff, and faculty in FY22.

Mental health remains an ever-increasing concern among students and this past year our Counseling Center provided record levels of service:

  • Caring for 2,903 students (a 31% increase since pre-pandemic numbers)
  • Administering 2,727 initial assessments, and
  • Providing 305 crisis appointments.

Further addressing the needs of students in crisis, our CARE Team also achieved record levels of service, providing to date 4,138 touch points with 2,368 unique students, presently a 41% increase over all of last year.

"The CARE Team greatly helped me to figure out next steps and feel supported... I have had a tumultuous freshman year here at Baylor, but CARE Team has moved heaven and earth to make this year easier for me in any way they could. I am grateful beyond words for the Baylor University CARE Team."

In addition, preventative wellness initiatives were strengthened this year. Through our Campus Recreation department:

  • Over 7000 students participated in competitive sports programs (Club Sports and Intramurals)
  • Over 700 people were certified in CPR, First Aid, Lifeguarding, Belay, and Wilderness Medicine
  • Outdoor Adventure program led 39 day-trips and 13 multiday trips to locations such as the Grand Canyon, the Rio Grande River, and Big Bend.

Through our Wellness department, over 2500 people participated in weekly FitWell fitness classes. Another important and distinct wellness effort is the work of the Beauchamp Addiction Recovery Center (BARC). This past year the BARC served an average of 56 students a week for regular programming and had special programming attendance of 1,752, almost twice what they had the year before (940).

One of the most meaningful comprehensive health and well-being initiatives launched this past year was Baylor Telehealth by Academic Live Care. This new program provides both medical and counseling services that are free, unlimited, and available to all Baylor students across the United States and internationally. The services offered provide a supplement (not replacement) to the high-quality services we already offer. The program launched mid-year but still over 800 students utilized the counseling services and close to 400 students utilized the medical services. We anticipate those numbers will only increase next year as we are able to promote Baylor Telehealth in venues like Summer Orientation and as more students, staff, and faculty become aware of the services. 

 

 
Strengthen Understanding and Support of an Increasingly Diverse Student Body

Our efforts to support an increasingly diverse student body are driven by our Divisional three-year diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging strategic plan, that we entitled Building a Caring Christian Community. This plan guides our intentional Division-wide efforts to serve and support students of diverse backgrounds and experiences. One prominent example of such efforts was in the fall semester when our Multicultural Affairs Office hosted over 1500 students for Mosaic Mixer, an event that kicked off a week of celebrating the diverse cultures represented on campus. The remainder of the week featured events such as Black Student Welcome, Hispanic Student Night, and Mosaic Asian Night, which collectively brought together over 750 students. Throughout the year, Multicultural Affairs and other offices hosted an array of intentional and relational in-person opportunities for students to engage regularly in smaller groups. Examples included: Better Together (bi-weekly interfaith engagement); Neighbor Nights (twice monthly dinners to celebrate different cultures); Latinas Unidas (a monthly meeting for Latina students); My Sister Myself (a monthly meeting for female students of color); MISTER (a monthly meeting for male students of color); and Multicultural Affairs Book Club (a monthly book club highlighting diverse voices). Multicultural Affairs also led out on coordinating large celebratory events and programming such as the MLK Jr. Celebratory Luncheon, Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Asian & Pacific American Heritage Month, Native American Heritage Month, Women’s History Month, and Kente Ceremony (a pre-graduation ceremony celebrating the accomplishments of graduates and presenting them with a Kente Cloth to wear to graduation).

"Project Kente was an outing I didn't know I needed. It felt family-oriented being able to have fun with friends and staff that were there for me throughout the past four years. It gave me the freedom to have fun and celebrate without worring about paying for the event. I believe it's something every class should be given the opportunity to have."

One of the most notable accomplishments was the successful launch of the Trailblazer Scholarship Program. The program was created in 2020 with a $5 million dollar fund created by the University with the goal of supporting students who demonstrate commitment to advancing racial equality and diversity. Overseen by the Office of Multicultural Affairs, in addition to the financial scholarship, Trailblazer scholars are provided support, mentorship, and regular programming and engagement to enrich their Baylor experience. This year’s inaugural cohort of Trailblazer scholars consisted of 25 students, and an additional 25 students were selected recently for the second cohort as the program continues to grow. Another notable accomplishment was the successful chartering of Prism, a student organization aimed at providing care, connection, and community to students at Baylor who identify as LGBTQ+. The chartering of Prism was the result of yearlong efforts, and collaboration among staff, students, and faculty, and is an important step towards fulfillment of the May 2021 Regents Resolution on a Caring Community. 

 
Create New and Leverage Existing Spaces for Student Learning, Living, and Leadership Experiences

This year we successfully housed the largest incoming first-year class ever (4,271) leading to a full-capacity total of 5,174 students living in residence. In accomplishing this goal, we successfully master-leased the newly built Springhill Suites (hotel) and transformed it into Baylor Cityside, a first-year residence overseen by professional and student staff and provided with enhanced levels of security, to go meal options, and shuttle service from the hotel (located across from Robinson Tower) to campus. As a result of these and other efforts, our students in Cityside reported having a similar level of sense of belonging at Baylor as compared to their peers in other residence halls. This year, we also worked closely with our Operations & Facilities Management colleagues to complete the design phase for Collins Hall renovations, which are set to begin in May. Supported by donor funding, we also completed Phase 1 of Bear Habitat renovations with Phase 2 set to begin in the fall. The renovations enhance the Bear Habitat’s visitor engagement capability and strengthen our ability to provide high quality educational programming about our Bears, their care, and our stewardship and conservation efforts.

This year, student-facing facilities saw strong usage numbers. The Bill Daniel Student Center welcomed 1.2 million visitors and hosted over 4000 events including close to 500 in the Barfield Drawing Room (one of the largest event spaces on campus). The McLane Student Life Center, offering multiple fitness, health, and wellness amenities, had record high utilization netting over half a million visitors, an average of over 2,000 people a day. Additionally, the Pullin Family Marina served 2,811 unique individuals, The Rock (wall) served 1,404 unique individuals, and the Challenge Course served 3,382 unique individuals.

 

In FY22, we capitalized upon opportunities to enhance the overall student experience by focusing and delivering on our five student-centered priorities. In addition to these accomplishments, we are excited to celebrate a substantive multi-year achievement, the fulfillment of Student Life’s contribution to the Give Light Campaign. Upon the execution of several recently received gifts, we will meet and exceed our $25 million goal. We are encouraged by this support and the affirmation it represents of the value people see in Baylor, in Student Life, and in our students. It is with appreciation and gratitude that we celebrate a successful year and look forward to building upon this momentum going into FY23.

 

Division of Student Life

McLane Student Life Center
One Bear Place #97016
Waco, TX 76798-7016

(254) 710-1314