A Caring Community for a Diverse Student Body
Baylor, a beacon of care and community, extends its Christian mission through genuine relationships and tailored services. Embracing growth, it now prioritizes diverse student needs in its expanding programs.
Baylor is renowned for offering a caring community to students, an expression of hospitality grounded in the University’s Christian mission. That care for students is found in relationships across campus and in services that meet students’ distinct needs. Significant growth in the graduate student population, along with new programs commensurate to Baylor’s growth as an R1 research institution, have led to a renewed focus on programs and resources to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student body.
Diverse: Issues in Higher Education recently recognized Baylor in the Top 100 Degree Producers rankings of the institutions that confer the most degrees to minority students. The Diverse rankings recognized Baylor in three specific areas within the Graduate School:
- Doctoral-All Disciplines Combined Total Minority (No. 47, with 89 doctoral degrees conferred);
- Doctoral-All Disciplines Combined African American (No. 17, with 50 doctoral degrees conferred); and
- Doctoral-All Disciplines Combined Hispanic (No. 58, with 28 doctoral degrees conferred).
The Baylor Graduate School plays an important role in the increasing diversity throughout the University, which places an important responsibility on meeting needs across multiple dimensions. Throughout Baylor, resources for graduate students are being created or enhanced to further enhance the University’s caring community.
Baylor’s Center for Global Engagement (CGE) serves international students through support, advocacy and compliance. At a basic level, Baylor starts with a focus on expertise in regulatory compliance to ensure that international students are in line with US government regulations. From there, CGE partners with other organizations on campus to offer support and advocacy for international students.
“Support can encompass everything from helping acclimate them to campus and to the U.S. to providing rides to take them grocery shopping,” Mark Bryant, Ph.D., Director of International Student and Scholar Services, said. “It can be offering professional workshops or cultural opportunities.”
A growing focus on advocacy has seen divisions across campus identify distinct international student needs and partner to meet them: trainings across campus about unique regulations of international students and conversations with departments to help faculty understand the unique challenges international students face.
There are resources directed at students themselves as well. Classes that help international students teach and write effectively in English are now offered. Housing (more below) has been an important focus, as has transportation options to go to different Baylor facilities or local businesses.
CGE and campus ministries also provide free transportation to area grocery stores and other businesses to help students, many of whom may not have U.S. driver’s licenses, meet their consumer needs.
“We’ve got more to do, but everyone is willing to talk to us and be supportive of international students,” Bryant said. “We have amazing campus partners and Baylor is really stepping up.”
Housing & Community
“Baylor has been working on housing for graduate students, and helping them build community and networking with each other,” Bill Hockaday, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Research and Associate Professor of Geosciences, said. Many graduate students may be admitted at non-traditional times in the academic calendar and find that affordable housing options are limited. Baylor is actively working to meet that need.
“Last year, we were able to work with Baylor to find spaces in Baylor owned apartments,” Bryant said. “This has led to some new opportunities with the graduate school. Now, instead of two graduate housing options, there will be four starting next fall. Baylor was so willing to work on this, and this will be very helpful.”
Community represents another important part of the student experience. Baylor provides numerous organizations for graduate students. Baylor’s Graduate Student Association offers events and activities designed specifically for grad students. Many other campus organizations likewise offer resources offer connections to plug into communities both faith-based, professional and professional, and some events that are simply fun, like game nights.
“Being a graduate student is not easy,” Hockaday said. “These are the kind of things that make life more livable and serve as a support network for students. It’s critical for serving and retaining graduate students, and it’s a way to make this campus feel like home during their time here.”
The Graduate Student Association
“Baylor is competing for a new pool of graduate students and to be competitive, we have to offer more and better resources for graduate students,” Anna Beaudry, Graduate Student Association (GSA) President, said. GSA has advocated for increased services to graduate students, whose needs can be different from the traditional undergraduate population. Many students are married and some have children. The graduate student body includes a significant international student population, and graduate student bodies are diverse by nature.
GSA holds a Diversity Gala every year, bringing together organizations within the Waco area who serve diverse populations and build community. Speakers and panels address issues for diversity, equity and inclusion and belonging.
“What we’re trying to do is provide connection, community and resources for our students from underrepresented groups within the graduate school,” Beaudry says.
Ultimately, it’s a goal at GSA that mirrors what’s found across campus, both at the undergraduate and graduate level, that grows in gravity as the student population becomes more diverse.
“We’re focused on the care and belonging,” Beaudry says, “of every single graduate student.”
You can read more about the Baylor Graduate School's efforts around being an inclusive graduate school in the 2023 Annual Report.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.