Baylor University students struggling with substance abuse will have an on-campus haven this fall at the Beauchamp Addiction Recovery Center.

A $2.5 million lead gift from Baylor regent Bob Beauchamp and his wife, Laura, will help launch the center at East Village Residential Community in a former frozen yogurt shop on the ground floor.

In a Monday afternoon ceremony, interim President David Garland said students today face new and different temptations than they did in 1975, when Garland began teaching.

“Placing this center in the heart of a very active part of our campus is very intentional,” Garland said. “It will communicate to students that this is a resource for everyone. It will communicate to students that we’re not going to pretend that these addiction disorders do not exist. It will communicate to students that we will not ostracize them for coming here any more than we would for them going to get a flu shot.”

Christian initiative

The center — which will open this fall after undergoing renovations — is based on a broader effort called the Christian Character Initiative, orchestrated by Executive Vice President and Provost L. Gregory Jones.

Jones said the initiative is meant to “double down” on Baylor’s efforts as a Christian research university.

“It includes infusing attention to character across the classroom, to highlighting the holistic development of what is involved in character: how people think, how they feel, how they live, how they perceive,” Jones said. “And centrally, it also includes accompanying those who struggle.”

A Baylor press release cited research indicating 31.6 percent of college students nationwide meet the criteria for substance abuse disorders.

The center will support students in identifying addiction, counseling and possible referral to off-campus rehabilitation. Reintegration support is also available for former students or those already in recovery.

“The Christian Character Initiative is not just focused on our aspirations,” Jones said. “It’s also focused on meeting people where they are, accompanying them, helping them recover, helping them get back on that path and then discovering not only life, but life abundant.”

Program coordinator Lilly Ettinger said the center will host weekly support and community recovery meetings, and space and time for social interaction also will be available to students. She will lead a staff of about five and will sometimes work with Baylor’s counseling center.

Awarding scholarships

The center hopes to later award merit- and service-based scholarships to students in recovery and create housing space on or near campus for students in recovery.

Beauchamp, chairman of BMC Software, said speaking with students who have faced addiction is the only thanks he needs.

“Every organization will go through struggles,” he said. “Every institution will go through struggles. Every human being on planet Earth will go through struggles, and the trick is, what do you do when it happens?

“And what everybody needs, every person, every organization needs, is people who come to help. People who are there not to judge but to help and to go forward.”

In 2013, Beauchamp gave a $3 million lead gift to the Beauchamp Athletics Nutrition Center, a dining facility for student-athletes. Beauchamp, in October, said he made that gift at the request of former head football coach Art Briles, who was fired by regents in May.

“I just want to applaud President Garland and Provost Jones for taking the lead on the Christian Character Initiative and taking the lead to take Baylor to the next plateau to be what the world’s greatest university should be, which is one that loves its students more than any school on Earth.

“If there’s ever a school that should have an addiction recovery center, and a heart for helping those that are suffering, it should be Baylor University, and we’re incredibly proud to be participating in it.”

Phillip has covered higher education for the Tribune-Herald since November 2015.

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