Baylor’s ongoing Give Light campaign has received the largest one-time donation in the university’s history — a $100 million anonymous gift that officials say will accelerate the university’s research ambitions.
The latest gift brings the $1.1 billion campaign’s current fundraising total to $692 million, the university announced Saturday evening. The gift will primarily fund endowed professorships, a key feature for the university’s academic strategic plan, Illuminate.
President Linda Livingstone is seeking by late 2022 to complete the campaign, which aims to move the university toward the highest echelon of research universities.
“An important part of that strategic plan is ensuring that we are hiring and retaining faculty that are exceptional researchers and deeply committed to our Christian mission,” Livingstone said. “To do that, to really bring in some of the best scholars in the world that would be committed to our Christian mission and to our students, you have to have the resources to do that.”
The funds will support the Baylor Academic Challenge, a matching program that would double the amount for each endowed chair. The university already houses five endowed chairs at the amount of $2.5 million or greater. Baylor plans to create 17 additional endowed positions.
“It has not been a significant part of the long-term history of the institution,” Livingstone said. “This is something we’ve been emphasizing more recently, and we’re just thrilled to have a family willing to come alongside us, recognizing how significant this is.”
David Rosselli, vice president for advancement at Baylor, said Baylor’s ambitions are high, and with the academic strategic plan, Baylor leaders hoping for global renown.
“The Baylor family, parents, alumni and friends, have really gathered together to catapult this campaign forward,” Rosselli said.
Baylor’s endowment sat at about $1 billion in 2012 and grew to $1.31 billion in fiscal year 2018, the highest it’s even been. The new strategic plan aims to add $500 million to the endowment.
Baylor in 2002 set a goal to built a $2 billion endowment but fell short, reaching only $1 billion by its 2012 target date. But Rosselli said the momentum this time is on Baylor’s side.
“I know that Baylor’s never been in a position, historically, to tackle a $1.1 billion campaign to generate resources for the academy at this level,” Rosselli said. “To have this overwhelming support from the Baylor family has never happened before.”
The donors are staying anonymous, but Livingstone said the donation came from a family with close ties to Baylor. She said they’ve been discussing the possibility of a donation for about a year.
“We’ve known them a long time. They love Baylor, and they’re deeply committed to our mission,” Livingstone said. “They want the university be successful, they’re excited about the direction we’re going.”
Livingstone announced the gift Saturday at a regional Give Light campaign kickoff in Houston, one of several events similar to the one Baylor began the campaign with last fall. She said a significant number of Baylor alumni and supporters call Houston home.
“This has been on the calendar for a long time, and it just worked when we heard from the family that they were willing to make this commitment,” Livingstone said. “Houston is a big constituency for us.”