Last week, Dr. Linda Livingstone was inaugurated as the 15th president in Baylor University’s 172-year history
. Professors, visiting dignitaries and more than 4,000 students, faculty and staff attended the installation ceremony, where they were treated to a speech that shared President Livingstone’s heart for Baylor University, its students and its role in academia and the world around us.
The theme to her remarks was found in Romans 12:2—“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”
Here are a few highlights:
“When I received the call informing me that I'd been selected as the 15th President of Baylor University. I felt that, once again, God was asking me to take a leap of faith…So (husband) Brad, (daughter) Shelby, and I once again bathed this decision in prayer. It soon became evident to all of us that God was bringing us back home to Baylor. I was excited by the opportunity not only to return to a university that I loved, but to a place I felt God had been preparing me to lead.
I accepted the call not in spite of recent institutional difficulties, but because of them. Every crisis is an opportunity to learn and rebuild, and I truly believed that God wanted me to assume this task at this particular point in Baylor's history. But most importantly, I wanted to return because of the university's mission. I knew that Baylor was one of the most visible, ambitious Christian universities in the nation, and I wanted to be a part of this distinct academic vision.
As I re-introduced myself to the Baylor family over the past few months, I have been struck by how many people on this campus share a similar sense of calling to our Christian academic mission.”
“And Baylor's mission is indeed compelling. Our aspiration to integrate academic and teaching excellence with an uncompromising Christian identity positions this university to have a transformative impact on our students, on higher education, and on the world. Higher education is in a time of significant change and challenge.
Baylor's Christian commitment equips us to address these challenges in significant and meaningful ways. We have said that our goal is to achieve pre-eminent research status, what we in academics call Tier 1 status. This goes beyond achieving what the Carnegie Foundation defines as "highest research activity" or R1 status…Here, achieving pre-eminent research status means bringing our intellectual energy, institutional resources, and Christian values to bear in addressing global conversations about crucial issues, including human rights, economic growth, diversity, social responsibility, healthcare, and ethics. We aspire to cultivate leaders who devote their training and talents to generating innovation and discovery in every field, from the sciences to the humanities, politics to education, business to the arts.
Baylor is one of the few Protestant universities in the nation pursuing this particular vision to be a top-tier research university. The challenge of bringing critical research and excellent teaching alongside committed Christian principles, allowing each of these elements to inform and animate the others, is the defining feature of our identity in a way that few other institutions can claim. For this reason, I believe we can have a unique voice within higher education, and the culture at large.”
“Looking to the future, then, I am inspired by the message of Romans 12:2: ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ Given our distinct institutional mission, our progress toward transformation and renewal as a university family may be different from other institutions. Baylor certainly has tremendous tradition to draw upon, but we also embrace innovative ways to address new challenges and cultivate new opportunities in light of our faith.
The calling before us is challenging, yet significant. We must be bold in our aspirations. Because the world needs a place like Baylor. The world needs a Baylor that raises the bar in the area of Christian higher education, combining the riches of undergraduate, professional, and graduate education with rigorous research, high-quality athletics, and unwavering faith commitment. The world needs a Baylor that brings our religious identity, institutional resources, and human talent to bear in generating creative solutions to complex problems. The world needs a Baylor that is committed to finishing the race we have started, striving to achieve pre-eminent status as a research university that is unambiguously Christian. When we can accomplish this goal, we will articulate and embody an exceptional vision for 21st-century Christian higher education and produce graduates with the wisdom, innovation, and leadership skills required to make a difference in the world. The world needs Baylor University!”
You can find a video of the ceremony and a transcript of President Livingstone’s remarks on our website and Baylor social media.