Regents (copy)

Baylor University Board Chairman Joel Allison (left) and President Linda Livingstone are pictured here leaving a board meeting last year.

As Baylor University kicks off an ambitious $1.1 billion campaign for endowment growth, capital projects and general-use funds, Baylor President Linda Livingstone on Friday set a four-year time frame for the goal and said it will take another fundraising push to reach tier-one research status.

The university has already raised about $540 million of the goal in a silent fundraising phase. The push comes as Livingstone recently launched “Illuminate,” a five-year academic strategic plan that would, in part, dramatically increase Baylor’s research output.

“We feel like this is, in the time frame that we’re looking at, that people can get their minds around that $1.1 billion, and that additional $500 million that we need to get to is the right target right now and will help us to make huge strides in Illuminate and will support that first five years,” she said. “Then as we build out the next five years toward our top-tier research status, we will then build out additional fundraising opportunities to support that.”

She said it would take another $500 million to approach doubling the size of the Baylor’s endowment, which sits at $1.3 billion.

The first major step of the campaign was the gift for a welcome center at Interstate 35 and University Parks Drive. Baylor regent Mark Hurd and his wife, Paula, are the lead donors. Hurd is the CEO of Oracle and the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard Co.

Livingstone made the comments after a quarterly board of regents meeting. Baylor festivities will be in high gear this weekend, highlighted by the Baylor Homecoming Parade on Saturday morning.

She said she hopes to encourage fundraising for research and endowment purposes in tangible ways by showcasing faculty work and student success stories made possible by scholarships.

Baylor regent Chairman Joel Allison reaffirmed the board’s support for Livingstone ahead of the campaign.

“We, really, as a board of regents, have been blessed with Dr. Livingstone’s leadership,” Allison said. “We completely support her vision.”

Big 12 update

The Big 12 Conference this week signed off on policy improvements surrounding sexual assault, but not without some penalty. The conference fined Baylor $2 million and did not say how much of the $12.6 million it has withheld will be returned after a four-year period.

It was the second affirmation of Baylor’s strides since Pepper Hamilton LLP’s investigation on sexual assault and implementation of the law firm’s recommendations.

“Because of some of the things that happened, as you would expect, we kind of expected there would be a penalty,” Allison said. ”The most important part was that they affirmed. That’s the second outside independent organization that has affirmed what we have done, what the university has done in the implementation of the 105 recommendations from the findings of fact. That was, to me, very positive.”

Waco Hall improvements

The board OK’d $2.5 million in work to Waco Hall to comply with the American with Disabilities Act. The university announced the first phase will start this summer with construction of exterior ramps and courtyards, the installation of an elevator and stairway inside the building and plans for further accessibility improvements.

Waco Hall, built in the late 1920s, hosts Baylor chapel sessions and a variety of other university events. It also hosts the Waco Symphony Orchestra six times per year.

Susan Taylor, executive director of the Waco Symphony Orchestra, said the improvements are welcomed.

“I think anything they do to improve the hall … would be wonderful because it does need some more updating, I believe,” Taylor said.

Phillip Ericksen joined the Tribune-Herald in March 2015 as a sports copy editor. That November, he joined the news team. He has covered higher education, city hall, politics and crime.

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