Two Gentlemen of Baylor
Roughly 32 percent of American colleges and universities are led by female presidents or chancellors. It is rarer for a university’s top two executives to be female. With Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., as president and Nancy Brickhouse, B.A. ’83, Ph.D., as provost, Baylor also boasts a first gentleman and a second gentleman. Brad Livingstone and Mark Brickhouse, Ph.D., both lend their expertise to the Baylor and Waco communities.
Okmulgee, Oklahoma, native Brad Livingstone played basketball at Oklahoma State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business management and a master’s degree in education, and also met his wife. Brad, whose professional career has been dedicated to secondary education, currently teaches at Waco’s Vanguard College Preparatory School, where he taught in the 1990s and early 2000s when the Livingstones first lived in Waco.
Brad’s World War II class has gained quite a reputation. Since starting the class in 1993, he has introduced more than 100 World War II veterans to his students through in-class visits. Over the years, his students also have met Germans who lived through the war. Recently, he has added a Vietnam War history class to his repertoire, which he says was inevitable as it is increasingly difficult to find living World War II veterans.
Mark Brickhouse graduated from St. Christopher’s, a college preparatory school in Richmond, Virginia, and earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. His ancestral family has lived in Virginia and North Carolina for more than 250 years. Mark met his wife at Purdue University in the mid-1980s when he was an organic chemistry doctoral candidate and she was a science education doctoral candidate.
“Both of them got involved in the community by using their skills and gifts on behalf of the greater good. That is a testament to them as individuals and to their spouses. These men are breathing life into the good Baylor is trying to do as an organization.”
— Jeremy Everett, M.Div. ’01, Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty
A highly respected research chemist, Mark worked with a decontamination team when anthrax-laced letters appeared in Washington, D.C., in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Two decades later, he received calls from several of his colleagues from that era at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of returning to work with the federal government, Mark was part of the team that managed contact tracing at Baylor.
Jeremy Everett, M.Div. ’01, founder and executive director of the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty (BCHP), has been impressed by both men since they arrived
“Both of them got involved in the community by using their skills and gifts on behalf of the greater good,” Everett says. “That is a testament to them as individuals and to their spouses. These men are breathing life into the good Baylor is trying to do as an organization.”
(Distant) Hollywood Connection
Brad Livingstone credits much of the success of his World War II class to two men he has never met, neither of whom were involved in the war. From 2002 to 2014, Linda Livingstone was dean of the Graziadio School of Business and Management at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California — home to many Hollywood types, including Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg.
“I never saw either one of them, and we lived there for 12 years,” Brad says. “But I always wanted to thank them for producing Saving Private Ryan. When that movie came out, it opened the flood gates. Veterans that I had never contacted started contacting me.”
The Livingstones’ daughter Shelby played club and high school volleyball in Malibu. Providentially, the father of one of her teammates was working on a Hanks film. Somewhat reluctantly, Brad asked his fellow volleyball dad to pass along a letter of thanks and pictures of veterans and students from his class to the Academy Award-winning actor. Brad did not expect a response.
“But, about two weeks later, I learned that Tom Hanks collects old typewriters,” Brad says. “He typed a response, thanking me for thanking him and mentioning the veterans and that it meant a lot to him. That letter is in a frame in my classroom.”
Seizing an opportunity to make contact with a Hollywood elite likely would have been more than a young Brad Livingstone could have managed.
“For the most part, I was really kind of an introvert — not really a people person,” Brad says of his youth. “When I got into education, that had to change. I had to train myself to be more comfortable around large settings of people and being more adaptable around people. Now the running joke in our family is that we can never get out of anywhere without having to drag ‘Dad’ away from talking to somebody.”
Brad’s late-blooming affable persona now benefits the efforts of Jonathan Grant, B.B.A. ’94, M.Div. ’00, executive director of Waco-based World Hunger Relief Inc. (WHRI), a Christian organization and active farm committed to the alleviation of hunger around the world. Grant and Brad, who sits on the WHRI board of directors, have known each other since the late 1990s.
“Brad exemplifies better than anyone I know the fullness of the fruits of the spirit,” Grant says. “It’s been a delight to call him friend for 22 years, but it’s been a gift to me as WHRI executive director to have him engaged and on the farm.”
Grant is thankful for the joy and positivity Brad brings to the board. However, he says Brad’s most significant contribution to WHRI is not in the board room or the on the farm.
“More than anything, Brad has been a vocal advocate of the farm in the circles that he walks,” Grant says. “The key is when he goes out, he speaks of his love of the farm and its purpose and mission. Brad is looked to as a wise sage and a trusted source. People trust him; in turn, they trust us. When he speaks, it carries a lot of weight. He’s done that on our behalf many times, and I am very grateful.”
Long, Winding Road
After completing their doctoral degrees at Purdue, Mark and Nancy Brickhouse were keen to the idea of settling in her native Texas. But that dream took a long and winding road.
Nancy settled on a faculty position at the University of Delaware, and Mark entered the public sector as a research chemist. Over the subsequent three decades, he worked with W.R. Grace and Company in Columbia, Maryland, as a U.S. Army civilian employee at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Harford County, Maryland, with Hercules Incorporated in Wilmington, Delaware, and with Booz Allen Hamilton in McLean, Virginia.
Meanwhile, Nancy climbed the ranks at the University of Delaware from assistant professor to interim provost. In 2015, she accepted the provost position at Saint Louis University in Missouri.
“All my clients were back East,” he says. “Our big government client in St. Louis was the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency. I’d done a lot of things over the years, but mapping was not one of them.”
Therefore, Mark started his own consulting firm. He helped Saint Louis University establish its Geospatial Research Institute and coordinated research conferences at the university. It was work Mark was able to continue (although briefly) after he and Nancy finally made it to Texas in 2019 when she was named Baylor’s provost.
“When your business model is organizing and carrying out large conferences in 2019, your business model doesn’t last very long,” Mark says. “We were planning two big conferences in the spring of 2020 when the pandemic hit. We cancelled both and everything ended up going quiet.”
Last year, Baylor asked him to join a team headed by Environmental Health and Safety Director Dennis Nolan. Mark’s focus was on contact tracing and serving those in quarantine. The team addressed as many things as possible, including financial, dietary and sometimes clothing needs.
“It was everything you could imagine,” Mark says. “The systems the University set up were great.”
In addition to his work with the University’s contact tracing efforts, Mark worked with Everett when the U.S. Department of Agriculture asked BCHP to expand its Meals-to-You meal delivery program nationwide at the onset of the pandemic. Mark also connected with Bryan Brooks, Ph.D., and Benjamin Ryan, Ph.D., from Baylor’s environmental sciences department to further study food insecurity.
“The three of them partnered with us on a significant research project to learn how we could build resilient communities using disaster preparedness models,” Everett says. “Mark’s initiative and the fact that he’s a connector got that going. He was using his skillset for the benefit of communities and children that he’ll never know. That was very impressive to me.”
Mark also published a manuscript with Nancy about how the University has addressed issues during the pandemic. It is their first joint publication in 35 years of marriage.
“Being here and being able to support programs in whatever way I can has been wonderful,” Mark says. “I could not be prouder of the people I’ve had a chance to work with, and seeing the Baylor mission in action has been an absolute pleasure.”