Nov. 3, 2004
By DAVE CAMPBELL
You are the decision maker for academic services at Baylor and you
want to put together the best possible facilities for those students
who will need to make the most of them, including the university's 401
scholarship and non-scholarship student-athletes.
So what do you design, knowing that location is also important?
Well, you can begin with the study hall and the tutoring services that
you will make available for the student-athletes. There are times (many
times) when their use of the study hall and tutoring services is
Example: "We require all our incoming freshmen to attend study hall
and have access to tutors. They have to achieve a certain GPA not to go
to study hall," says Baylor Lady Bear basketball coach Kim
Other Baylor coaches have similar requirements.
That being the case, this study hall needs to be located in a warm,
spacious, comfortable place conducive for learning, right?
So where do you put it? How about Neill Morris Hall, which used to be
the old power plant building over behind Pat Neff Hall. True, the halls
are so narrow that two wide-bodied football players might not be able
to go down the hall at the same time and the place can get mighty noisy
and cramped. But the space is available.
So that's where you put the study hall.
THEN WE NEED a good place for career counseling. That's for all
students, not just student-athletes. You decide to put it on the fourth
floor of the Robinson Tower over on I-35. That's not necessarily the
most convenient place for the students, but that's where you put it.
Now you need a good spot for the Office of Access Learning and
Accomodation, which is a fancy name for a place for any student who has
any type of learning difficulty can go. An attention disorder, for
example. Or a student with dyslexia. That office can render
life-changing services for such students. You want to find just the
right spot for it.
So you put it in the Speight Avenue Parking Garage.
The parking garage? Right, the parking garage.
Here's another important office you need to get situated: the Office
for Academic Advisement. It is for the general student population but
especially for freshmen and sophomores. It can be invaluable in helping
them get the right classes, determine their majors, etc. You decide to
put that office in Morrison Hall in the old Law School Building.
FINALLY, HERE'S a fifth office that badly needs to be in the right
place. It is the Office for Academic Support Programs and it is for all
students, from freshmen to seniors, who entered the university on a
provisional basis or those on academic probation or those having
special academic problems.
This office oversees supplemental instruction, which means it includes
advanced tutoring or group tutoring. It allows student peer groups to
teach and instruct fellow students in courses they currently are
It's an important part of the overall academic services program. So
you also locate it on the fourth floor of Robinson Tower, over on I-35.
There, you have all the departments situated and you are pretty
pleased with yourself, right?
YOU MOST DEFINITELY should not be.
You have scattered the offices all over the campus. You have put most
or all of them in places either difficult to reach or in areas too
cramped or not designed to best accommodate the students who have the
greatest need for them.
In all truth, you have made a total mess of the assignment.
But I will grant you this: you have put those offices, each and every
one of them, in the exact locations that they occupy at Baylor today.
It's no wonder, then, that sweeping changes badly need to be made.
It's no wonder that Baylor football coach Guy Morriss says he never
takes recruits or the parents of prospective recruits to the Neill
Morris Hall where the student-athlete would go to study hall or receive
"THAT'S THE ONE thing mamas and papas want to know about, the place
where their youngsters can get (academic) help when they need it.
That's not just recruits for football, that's for every sport," Morriss
said last week.
"But we just try not to show it (the facility) to them. If they ask
about it, we try to change the subject. Heck, at the place where our
guys get tutoring, it's so narrow that two big guys can't even walk
down the hall together.
"I haven't actually seen what schools such as Texas and Texas A&M have
for their athletes but I hear they're spacious and appealing.
"I know what they have at Kentucky (his previous head coaching
position). It's gorgeous, it's state of the art. You definitely want to
make sure the parents see that. It really helped our recruiting at
"It's all just a piece of the puzzle as we try to get the kids in here
who can take us to the next level that we're trying to get to. If you
have a great place (academic service facilities), it might not land a
recruit for you. But it sure can keep you from landing one."
OTHER BAYLOR COACHES echo the thought.
"Our kids say the study hall's too crowded. You hear it all the time.
They say they can't get any studying done because it's too crowded, too
many people," said Baylor cross country coach Todd Harbour, who appears
to be now less than a year away from building a Top 5 or Top 10 women's
team at Baylor.
"If we had a new facility, it would definitely help," continued
Harbour. "There have been times when I just wouldn't show what we have
now to a recruit."
Here's good news for Morriss, Harbour and other Baylor coaches:
A master plan has been developed that would bring the facilities for
all of Baylor's academic services to a central location on campus,
under one roof (the Sid Richardson Building), and put them in
That plan has moved beyond the drawing board and has won the approval
of Baylor's Board of Regents, providing a signal that strong
fund-raising efforts now will go forward at full speed.
THE TOTAL COST of the project: an estimated $5.9 million.
When the necessary funds have been raised or pledged in the capital
improvements project (and this project has gained "highest priority"
status), and the renovation work on the Sid Richardson Building has
been completed, the result will be what Baylor's Dean of Academic
Services, Dr. Patricia Tolbert, calls the "Baylor Success Center."
And it will be beyond first class.
Indeed, it will be a facility worth bragging about both for Baylor's
student-athletes and the university's general student body, as good or
better than what other universities offer.
"We are told that once funds are secured, it could be ready for us
within six to nine months," said Dr. Tolbert. "If everything falls into
place, we could sure make it happen.
"And it will be a place that coaches will be eager to show off."
For an in-depth look at what that place will look like, and how it
will be arranged, see separate story starting on page 13.