Waco, Texas — At their regular February meeting, Baylor University's Board of Regents approved naming the University's new on-campus track and field facility for a legendary coach and the construction of the Elliston Chapel, while Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr announced the appointment of David E. Garland as interim provost.
Baylor Regents gave their approval to name the new $18.1 million track facility the Clyde Hart Track and Field Stadium in recognition of Baylor's longest-tenured coach and his 51 years of exceptional service to the University. Hart served 42 years as Baylor's head track and field coach before retiring in 2005 to become director of track and field. His five decades of leadership elevated Baylor track and field to monumental heights while earning a worldwide reputation as "Quarter-Miler U" and international exposure on the Olympic stage. One of the nation's most successful and prominent programs, Baylor's track and field teams have produced nine Olympic gold medals, 36 NCAA championships and more than 600 All-America performances.
Former track and field athletes and Baylor supporters have rallied around the program's return to campus, providing a number of major gifts to the new stadium during the past two years. Baylor officials said the realization of the facility's fully desired scale and amenities is a direct result of such strong financial support.
The Hart Track and Field Stadium is under construction along the Brazos River on the far east side of the 93-acre McLane Stadium property. It is slated for completion in time for the spring 2015 season.
Regents also approved $1.7 million for the design and construction of Elliston Chapel, a 3,000-square-foot chapel that will accommodate small group Bible study, group worship and individual reflection. Funded with a lead gift from Molli, BA '75, and Gary Elliston of Dallas, the 100-seat chapel will be built next to Hallie Earle Hall on the East Village property at Third Street and Bagby Avenue. Construction on Elliston Chapel is expected to begin this spring and be completed by spring 2015.
"We are truly grateful to Molli and Gary Elliston for this generous gift to the University," said Richard S Willis, BBA '81, MBA '82, chair of the Baylor Board of Regents. "Molli and Gary believe that the pursuit of truth and calling is at the heart of the Baylor student experience. With this gift, the Ellistons have made possible the creation of a sacred space on our campus that will provide the opportunity for worship and reflection and empower our students as they become agents of transformation, advancing God's kingdom in all that they do."
The board also expressed its sincere appreciation for the faithful service and academic leadership of Provost and Executive Vice President Elizabeth Davis, Ph.D., who, after 22 years at Baylor, will resign her position to become president of Furman University on July 1. As Davis begins her transition this spring, President Starr notified the board that he has appointed Dr. Garland as interim provost. Garland currently is The Charles J. and Eleanor McLerran Delancey Chair of the Dean of George W. Truett Theological Seminary.
A member of the Truett faculty since 1997, Garland was appointed Truett's associate dean for academic affairs in 2001 and has led the seminary as dean since 2007. During Garland's tenure as dean, Truett Seminary has recruited a remarkably talented faculty and seen its enrollment grow. His reputation as an outstanding scholar and effective administrator committed to Baylor's distinct mission led Regents previously to appoint him interim Baylor president, a position he held from August 2008 until May 2010.
"Dean Garland is esteemed as both a distinguished scholar and an exceptional administrator, who embodies what it means to be a servant leader," President Starr said. "He was lauded by all members of the Baylor family for his steadfast leadership of the University as interim president, and he again has expressed his willingness to serve our beloved Baylor. Dr. Garland's appointment as interim provost will allow the University to continue to move forward in the implementation of Pro Futuris, our new vision, while we begin planning for a national search to fill the position of the University's chief academic officer."
In addition, President Starr informed the board that the University plans to install a memorial plaque on the Umphrey Pedestrian Bridge at McLane Stadium to commemorate the life of Jose Dario Suarez, the construction worker who died Jan. 28 in a tragic accident while working on the bridge. "In this small way, we remember and honor as a community the life of Mr. Suarez, his sacrifice and his contributions to the stadium project," President Starr said. "The Baylor family continues to keep Mr. Suarez's family, his co-workers and all those whom he loved in our deepest prayers."
In other news, the board also appropriated $16 million to refurbish North Russell Hall, part of the University's master plan to renovate existing residence halls over the next decade. The North Russell refurbishment will include updated rooms with new furniture and fixtures; new study and social spaces; the addition of a living-learning component to the complex with a faculty-in-residence apartment; and new mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. South Russell Hall, which is currently under refurbishment, will be reopened this fall. Work on North Russell will begin this summer.
"To all of us who love and serve Baylor, it remains abundantly clear that we are living in a very special time in the history of our great University," Willis said. "The actions we have taken this week demonstrate that we remain focused on providing our students with a transformative education that impacts every aspect of their experience on our campus; from the rich and personal dynamic of a Baylor classroom, to the athletic fields where they cheer and compete, and to the spaces where they live, learn and discern their calling to serve the kingdom of God. As we enter 2014, we have so much to celebrate and so much for which to be thankful. God's favor continues to rest on Baylor University."