Presidential Perspective - September 14, 2017

September 14, 2017

Baylor Students, Faculty and Staff:

Earlier this week I traveled to Washington, D.C., to visit with several members of the Texas Congressional delegation. They were interested in and supportive of our ambitions to become a tier one research university that is unapologetically Christian, and certainly appreciative of the significant measures Baylor has implemented on the Title IX front in the prevention of and response to sexual violence. I also had the opportunity to discuss the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and potential implications for many of our students. Strengthening our relationships in the nation’s Capitol will be a priority as we expand the University’s research portfolio and seek additional federal funding to support our efforts.

Here are a few noteworthy items for this week:

  • Our official enrollment for the fall semester was announced last Friday at 17,059 students, including 14,316 undergraduates and 2,743 graduate and professional students. This year's student body is the most diverse ever at 35.3 percent, and our retention and graduation rates continue to move forward at a record pace. Additionally, we slightly exceeded our freshman enrollment target with 3,320 students as part of our most selective and most diverse class in University history.
  • For the sixth straight year, Baylor ranks No. 2 in the Big 12 and among the top five universities in Texas in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings. Overall, we rank No. 75 among National Universities as well as No. 57 among Best Value Schools. Baylor also moved up five places to No. 38 among National Universities in the Best Colleges for Veterans ranking.
  • An example of how undergraduate students benefit from Baylor's status as a thriving research university is this week's receipt of a Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement grant. Each year, Baylor will receive nearly $250,000 to prepare undergraduate students for doctoral studies through involvement in research and other scholarly activities. Participants will be either first-generation college students with financial need or members of a group that is traditionally underrepresented in graduate education. Look for more information in the near future.
  • A special committee representing the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) will be on our campus the first week of October in response to Baylor's warning sanction of December 2016. Based on the significant work we have undertaken over the past year in implementing the 105 recommendations related to sexual violence, we are optimistic heading into the upcoming visit. If Baylor's warning sanction is satisfied and lifted by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees this December, we will continue with the standard decennial reaffirmation process that would include another onsite review in Spring 2018. Please note that Baylor remains fully accredited by SACSCOC, as we have been since 1913. You can find additional information at the University's SACSCOC Reaffirmation website.
  • Finally, this weekend marks Baylor's annual Family Weekend, a tradition that dates back to 1960. I look forward to the full schedule of events across the campus and throughout the Waco community with our students and their families. And be sure to start the weekend off right by wearing green and gold for Spirit Friday!

I am thankful for Baylor's strength and resilience, as well as for the support and dedication of the Baylor Family.

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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