A New Year Begins at Baylor University

August 21, 2017
Dear Baylor Family,

Today is a special day at Baylor University. After spending their summer months pursuing a wide range of activities -- from new students preparing for their journey to Baylor to upper-division and graduate students taking summer classes, serving on mission trips abroad and pursuing internships across the country -- this morning our students began their first day of classes for the fall 2017 semester.

Since taking office as Baylor's 15th president on June 1, I have been eagerly awaiting this day, and it has been an absolute delight to welcome students back to campus. I've actually been getting to know them for a few days now, as my husband, Brad, and I joined thousands of other volunteers across campus in helping to move our new students into their residence halls last week.

As a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, Baylor continues to attract extraordinarily talented students. In fact, this year's freshman class of 3,300 is projected to be the most selective and most diverse class in Baylor's history, while also having the highest percentage of out-of-state students.

These freshmen are joining our returning students to form a student body that is remarkably diverse and richly endowed with potential to become transformative leaders in their professional fields and personal lives after graduation. For our nearly 17,000 students, the beginning of a semester is a time of excitement, eagerness and hope. Our faculty and staff are united in prayer for the achievements the coming months hold for them.

A Home Away from Home

When students move into our residence halls or come to class from their nearby homes off campus, they are greeted with warmth and are cared for as individuals. Baylor is their home away from home, and we are committed to making it one in which they will thrive and find the path toward who God calls them to be in their lives.

This fall marks the return of Martin Hall after an extensive refurbishment this past year that has given new life to this campus landmark. The 60,000-square-foot building has more than 250 beds and features an improved public space on the upper level and a new faculty-in-residence apartment. I hope those of you who lived in Martin during your student years will return to campus for Homecoming and take a tour.

Excitement in the Air

With the start of the fall semester comes the beginning of another year of Baylor athletic events and the school spirit they engender among our students, alumni and friends. From my conversations with our new freshmen and the tremendous enthusiasm they exhibited at the Spirit Rally, I know they are eager to run in the Baylor Line when the football team opens its season at 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 2.

As excited as we are for the prospect of victory on the field under new head coach Matt Rhule, we are even more deeply grateful to him for his leadership in creating a culture of accountability and personal development among the student-athletes under his care. At the recent Big 12 Media Days, Coach Rhule had this to say: "What I've learned in my time at Baylor and Waco is we're not running from the past, but rather we're learning from it. We're truly committed to getting the wrongs of the past corrected into a bright new future."

I ask you to join me in supporting not only our football team, but also Baylor volleyball, soccer and cross country student-athletes this fall by attending their competitions and celebrating "Spirit Fridays." We want everyone in the Baylor Family to "fling their green and gold" and wear school colors or Baylor apparel each and every Friday.

Looking to the Future

As I announced with Board Chairman Joel Allison following the July meeting of the Board of Regents, we are launching a comprehensive academic strategic planning process this fall to further Baylor's goal to become a "tier one" Christian research university as outlined in Pro Futuris. Our academic deans recently met to begin this process and will help us identify areas of academic and scholarly strength as well as areas in which there are opportunities for transformative change to meet emerging needs.

While we will certainly continue to emphasize and value the University's tremendous undergraduate experience, we cannot overstate the significance of our graduate programs and of the scholarly activities and research our faculty are contributing to a wide variety of disciplines, whether it is in the sciences or the liberal arts or the professional schools. Baylor has a distinct place in higher education, and we are committing to elevate our academic profile even further for the benefit of our students, faculty, staff and alumni.

The task of advancing Baylor in pursuit of excellence in Christian higher education is one that requires the work of many hands and the prayers of many hearts. May God bless you for your prayerful and unceasing support of Baylor University.

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.
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