Robbins College 2023 Year in Review

December 19, 2023
Baylor Cashion Exterior

With the New Year in sight, it is time to reflect back on the significant developments and exciting happenings from the past year for Baylor University’s Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences. In no particular order, here are 10 highlights from Robbins College’s 2023 year in review:

1. Development of Strategic Research Initiatives

Over the course of the year, college faculty, staff, and leadership worked together to develop the Robbins College Signature Research Initiatives. These four initiatives serve to “Illuminate” the broad range of research endeavors being undertaken within the College and to help inform prioritization of resources over the next several years:

Inspired by our Christian mission, Baylor University's Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences seeks to enhance health, quality of life, and human flourishing for all individuals and communities.

  • Behavioral and Human Sciences: Examining and modifying the environmental, psychological, and social determinants that influence behavior and health
  • Chronic Diseases and Conditions: Understanding, preventing, and treating chronic diseases and conditions
  • Health Access and Quality: Investigating and improving access to care and opportunities for healthy living
  • (Re)habilitative Sciences: Optimizing function and independence for those who experience injury, illness, disability, or developmental delay

2. Launch of Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series

The Robbins College Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series was established to bring innovative researchers who are positively impacting the health and wellbeing of their communities to the Baylor University campus to speak on their research and its impact. The College welcomed Tyler Cooper, MD, MPH, President and CEO of Cooper Aerobics/Cooper Clinic to a standing room only crowd in November as the inaugural speaker. In his lecture, “The Power of Prevention,” Dr. Cooper examined the development of his father's concept of exercise as medicine and the reception of preventive medicine in addressing the health crisis currently plaguing the United State as well as how research from The Cooper Institute and the practice of preventive care at Cooper Clinic work together to improve the quality and quantity of life while also dramatically reducing health care costs.

Tyler Cooper at the Dean's Distinguished Lecture Series

3. Board Approval of Physician Assistant Program

During its regular May meeting, the Baylor University Board of Regents approved a new degree program to be housed in Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences—the Master of Physician Assistant Studies. This new degree program will develop highly skilled, mindful, and empathetic physician assistants who are able to provide optimal care for patients, contribute significantly to team-based care, effectively navigate the complex health care system, and promote wellness in their communities. The program is pending approval from the University’s institutional accreditor SACSCOC and the program accreditor ARC-PA.* In October, Robbins College announced the appointment of Baylor graduate Meredith Quinene, DHSc, MPAS, PA-C, DFAAPA, as the inaugural director of the Physician Assistant Studies program.

4. Dedication of Mary Jo Robbins Clinic for Autism Research and Practice

In March, Baylor University, Robbins College, and the Department of Communications Sciences and Disorders dedicated the Mary Jo Robbins Clinic for Autism Research and Practice during an event honoring the clinic’s namesake, Mary Jo Robbins, and her husband, William K. “Bill” Robbins, of Houston, who made the lead gift in her honor. Housed in the Baylor Speech-Language and Hearing Clinic, the Mary Jo Robbins Clinic supports individuals whose lives have been affected by an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis (ASD).

Baylor Speech Language and Hearing Clinic with Balloons

5. Arrival of First Container Clinic in Rwanda

As a part of their partnership with Africa New Life Ministries, Baylor University is seeking to build 10 container clinics—shipping containers outfitted as medical clinics for the Rwandan townships where Africa New Life Ministries provide services. A collaborative project between Robbins College’s Department of Public Health and the Baylor BUILD student organization, the first container clinic arrived in Rwanda in May 2023 and is already making an impact in the local community.

6. Faculty and Staff Hiring and Recognition

Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences welcomed over 40 new faculty and staff members during the 2023 calendar year. These new team members are housed across departments and bring new research expertise, teaching innovations, support strategies, and more to campus (and online). Robbins College also continues to celebrate the special achievements of faculty and staff in the categories of teaching, research, service, and culture through the Pure Gold Awards program. Be sure to check out the Spring 2023 and Fall 2023 award winners!

7. Inaugural Nutrition Mythbusters Discussion Series

This November, the Division of Nutrition Sciences in the Department of Human Sciences and Design hosted the first annual Nutrition Mythbusters Discussion Series. The annual series seeks to examine common assumptions, misconceptions, and myths around nutrition, agriculture, and food security, improving our understanding of food sciences and its connection to environmental and human health. This initial event focused on “Organic vs. Conventional Farming” and featured expert panelists who offered insights into common consumer questions around these two farming practices.

Nutrition Mythbusters Series Fall 2023

8. Celebration of First MSMS Graduating Class

The online Master of Science in Medical Science was launched this January in the Department of Health, Human Performance, and Recreation to serve as an opportunity for students to elevate their credentials for professional program admissions and beyond. The program is one year in length, so the inaugural cohort of students who joined the program in January are now celebrating their graduation this December. Sic ‘em, MSMS graduates!

9. Faculty Promotions and Tenure

In Spring 2023, several Robbins College faculty received notification of promotion and/or tenure. These include:

  • Debra Harris, received tenure, Human Sciences and Design
  • Chris Wynveen, promoted to Professor in Health, Human Performance, and Recreation
  • Melony Cannon, promoted to Clinical Associate Professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Janet Sinker, promoted to Clinical Associate Professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Diane Loeb, appointed as the Goodpasture Endowed Chair in Communication Sciences and Disorders

10. Student Growth, Retention, and Success

Robbins College continues to see exceptional enrollment growth at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Not only are students excited to join the College, but they are also here to stay. Looking at preliminary retention numbers for Fall 2023 to Spring 2024, the College is expecting a 97.5% retention rate for first-time freshmen (which marks the third consecutive increase year-over-year). Excitingly, first-generation student retention is expected to increase by around 9%!** Robbins College students are staying, graduating, and using the skills they’ve developed to make an impact. In case you missed it, read about Nutrition Sciences alumna Breanna Campbell and her work as a Registered Dietitian. Be sure to check out Zac Howe, Doctor of Physical Therapy graduate, and his role as the Performance and Reconditioning Coach for the Sacramento Kings. And watch this interview with Post-professional OTD graduate Lauren Reightler, who launched an interdisciplinary post-intensive care unit clinic.



*Baylor University has applied for Accreditation - Provisional from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) and anticipates matriculating its first class in October 2025, pending achieving Accreditation - Provisional status at the June 2025 ARC-PA meeting. Accreditation - Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding accreditation-provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students. The University is preparing to apply for approval of the Master of Physician Assistant Studies by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

**Numbers are preliminary and subject to change