Baylor Achieves Tier-One Research Designation

How Baylor University Accelerated Its Journey to Tier-One Research (R1) Status

Baylor University President Linda A. Livingstone rejoiced when the 177-year-old Texas institution accomplished “what very few, if any, universities have achieved: maintaining our foundational Christian mission while reaching R1 status as a top-tier research university.” The story of how Baylor achieved R1 university designation by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education — and did so three years earlier than expected — is one of vision, collaboration, persistence, and innovation.


  • Baylor University announced plans to pursue R1 recognition, gain momentum toward becoming a top-tier Christian research university, and improve the overall research administration processes.
  • Following a thorough assessment guided by Huron, the team clarified internal research administration roles, defined new positions, and built a team to scale with the increasing demand for proposal and award support.
  • Only 137 universities nationwide are considered R1 institutions, including just 37 private institutions. Baylor University’s tier-one designation is a crucial step in supporting new areas of research and scholarship and attracting top-tier faculty and students.


Baylor University selected Huron to assess and evaluate its research administration operations and implement a refined model for faculty service delivery to best enable service and growth to achieve its R1 aspirations. The assessment identified the need for the university to replace its legacy structure and processes with a new model that provides consistency and support across all units to further strategic growth goals for the future. Huron also supported Baylor leadership as the university identified potential gaps in support, clarified roles and responsibilities, and expanded new hiring guidelines.

This engagement allowed the team to take a step back and have intentional conversations with stakeholders to shape the office and create structure. Alignment was the key to growth in the research administration office and would not be possible without Baylor’s spirit of true collaboration and innovation. ”
— Kevin Chambliss, Vice Provost for Research at Baylor University

Concurrent with reshaping operations and faculty service delivery, Huron supported the university’s implementation of Oracle Cloud technology to further redesign research administration business processes to improve efficiency, transparency, accountability, and service levels.

The new operating model and technologies coincided with an uptick in remote work amid the pandemic, which enabled the organization to consider candidates with unique experience outside the local talent pool. The newly formed geographically diverse staff was even able to keep research administration processes running to support faculty and staff investigators during a statewide power outage affecting more than 4.5 million homes and businesses, including Baylor University and the surrounding Waco areas.

This was not an off-the-shelf solution. Baylor University leadership were eager and willing to take recommendations and embrace true collaboration as a team.”
— Susan Stearsman, Associate Vice Provost for Research at Baylor University

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