Baylor Students, Faculty and Staff:
Our campus is a little quieter now that finals are over and the fall semester has come to a close. Baylor provides a transformational Christian higher education experience for our students – that is, and always has been, our mission – and we look forward to seeing our newest alumni lead in their professional fields and personal lives after graduation.
One of the many joys of serving as Baylor's President is presiding over Commencement Ceremonies and presenting our graduates with their diplomas. Saturday will be a big day as we honor the fall graduating class of 2017 with ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. in the Ferrell Center. Congratulations, and Sic 'em, Bears!
Here are a few noteworthy items for this week:
- A great example of Baylor's strength and resilience: Philanthropic gifts to the University are up 10 percent over last year at this time, while the overall number of donors has increased 11 percent. We truly appreciate the continued support of the Baylor Family on behalf of our students, faculty and staff as we hold dear our mission of educatingstudents for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment in a caring community.
- I would like to extend my appreciation to David and Shirley Lake of Tyler who have created the Lake Family Endowed Chair in Congregational and Community Health. The gift will fund a unique joint venture between the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work and George W. Truett Theological Seminary by supporting the work of a distinguished faculty member who will develop and implement a strategic initiative related to congregational and community health and will teach in both academic units. The inaugural holder of the Chair is Gaynor Yancey, D.S.W., professor of social work, Master Teacher and director of the Center for Church and Community Impact.
- Judge Baylor is adorning many Baylor Christmas trees this year! Nearly 3,000 ornaments were distributed during the 2017 Baylor Traditions Ornaments project, raising more than $59,000 from 2,080 donors for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Baylor Missions will send three volunteer teams to serve in Rockport this year, including 40 students from the Honors Residential College in January, 40 students from the Texas Hunger Initiative and the Athletic Department during Spring Break, and 12 students from the Leadership Living and Learning Center in May.
- Congratulations to Elise King, assistant professor of interior design in Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, and David Lin, Ph.D., associate professor of computer science in the School of Engineering and Computer Science, whose interdisciplinary project was awarded a Digital Humanities Advancement Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. These grants support innovative digital humanities projects that have successfully completed a start-up phase and demonstrated their value to the field. King and Lin involved Baylor students from interior design, computer science and history in their work as they developed the prototype of an open-source database that analyzes architectural floor plans.
- Today we've announced a new radio program, "Baylor Connections," in conjunction with KWBU 103.3FM, Heart of Texas Public Radio, that will launch January 5. The 30-minute interview program will air at 11 a.m. Fridays and will introduce the Waco community to the people behind Baylor's teaching, research and distinct role in higher education. In addition to the weekly radio broadcast, "Baylor Connections" will be available online at baylor.edu/connections or via podcast.
I wish you joy and peace over this Christmas season, and I look forward to seeing our non-graduating students, faculty and staff back on campus in 2018!
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.