• Anonymous $100 million gift to BU offers game-changing support for academics & athletics

    Collage of Baylor students and campus locations

    This week, Baylor announced that an anonymous donor has given the university $100 million — the largest current gift in Baylor’s history, and a truly transformational act of kindness that will benefit countless Baylor students, faculty and alumni.

    A significant portion of the gift will go toward increasing the number of endowed faculty positions by serving as a challenge gift, matching future significant gifts dollar-for-dollar. “Hiring and retaining faculty members who are accomplished teachers as well as renowned researchers and deeply committed to our Christian mission is essential to our goals under Illuminate,” says President Linda Livingstone. “You have to have the resources to do that. … 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.”

    (What is an endowed chair, you ask? Basically, it’s a faculty position permanently paid for by revenue from an investment fund specifically set up for that purpose. That means money does not have to come out of the operating budget for the position, allowing the university to use that money for countless other needs.)

    Some context on just how impactful this portion of the gift can be: Baylor currently has five chairs endowed at $2.5 million or greater; this gift (and the matching gifts that follow) would allow the university to create as many as 17 new endowed positions at that level.

    [More on the gift: Inside Higher Ed || Houston Chronicle || Waco Tribune-Herald]

    Another portion of the gift will serve as the lead gift for a new Baylor Basketball Pavilion. This new facility — previously announced as one of “Give Light’s” priority capital projects — will provide a new home designed expressly for Baylor men’s and women’s basketball, while allowing the Ferrell Center to be renovated to better serve as home to Baylor volleyball and acrobatics & tumbling.

    The pavilion will be built along the Brazos River, adjacent to Baylor Ballpark in a portion of the existing parking lot for the 30-year-old Ferrell Center. This new facility will offer better sightlines, with fans closer to the court; a slight decrease in capacity (similar to the Floyd Casey/McLane Stadium move); and offer new options for student seating that can maximize the energy they bring to each game.

    Vice President and Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades says about $30 million remains to be raised on the project, and no timetable has been set for construction quite yet. “This gift is symbolic of our united effort to raise the bar across all of our sports,” Rhoades says. “While the Ferrell Center has been home to our men and women’s basketball programs for over 30 years, this project will now create additional opportunities beyond basketball. With volleyball and acrobatics and tumbling taking over the Ferrell Center, they too gain a remarkable competitive advantage for their respective sports.”

    [More on the pavilion: AP || Dallas Morning News || Waco Tribune-Herald]

    It’s incredible to stop and reflect what it means for someone to make this kind of gift. This donor could have given that money to any number of worthy organizations for any number of worthy causes — and this family chose Baylor, with an astounding act of selflessness that will benefit BU students, faculty and alumni for generations.

    Sic ’em, anonymous donor!