Presidential Perspective - June 7, 2018

June 7, 2018

Baylor Students, Faculty and Staff:

I continue to be blessed each day to serve as Baylor's President. Among the many highlights is being able to travel across the country to visit with alumni, current and prospective students, parents and friends of the University. Board of Regents Chair Joel Allison and I have been in California all week as part of the Baylor Conversation Series. Today, I get to experience a "Malibu Day" in Southern California – something I fondly remember from my time as the dean of the business school at Pepperdine University – of 50-degree mornings, 70-degree afternoons and plenty of sunshine! Our "California Bears" are truly excited about the progress we are making as a University and our prospects for the future under Illuminate, our academic strategic plan. Of course, after a long week of travel, I am looking forward to being back at home – at Allbritton House, right in the middle the Baylor campus.

Here are a few noteworthy items to share for this week:

  • Following a busy spring, we all need to take time to rest and replenish our souls. Jesus invites us in Mark 6:31 to "Come away with me to a quiet place and rest for a while." At noon each Tuesday throughout June and July, our University Chaplain Burt Burleson will offer a 15-minute noon prayer experience at the Bobo Spiritual Life Chapel. Dr. Burleson will lead the service with singing in the Taizé tradition, readings from Scripture and prayers of intercession. You are invited to join together as a community of faith for prayer and the renewal of our spirit.
  • One of Baylor's great traditions is the steadfast financial support of the University's mission by alumni and friends. This week, a generous $2.5 million gift from the estate of Lorene Taylor Davidson, the wife of beloved biology professor Floyd Davidson, established The Floyd F. Davidson Endowed Memorial Chair in Biology. I am grateful for the Davidsons' faithful generosity that will enable Baylor to shine brightly as a Christian research university for many generations to come.
  • The accolades continue for Baylor Law, which has climbed seven spots to No. 33 in Above the Law's 2018 Top 50 Law Schools Rankings that were released on May 31. Above the Law, one of the leading websites for legal news, ranks law schools based on student outcomes by focusing on employment rates, quality of jobs obtained and debt incurred obtaining the degree. In addition, Baylor Law was recently ranked No. 18 in the most recent Law School Graduates Hiring Report, based on American Bar Association data.
  • Congratulations to the Baylor Libraries' Black Gospel Music Restoration Project team, which was awarded the 2018 Excellence in Digital Libraries Award from the Texas Digital Library. So far, they have digitized more than 3,000 unique items, including recordings, posters and photographs from hundreds of black gospel artists from the "Golden Age of Gospel" (1945-1975). These materials tell the story of America's black gospel heritage, and I appreciate the work of our Digital Preservation Services team who safeguard these treasures and provide digital access to the collection to researchers and others from anywhere in the world.
  • Award season continues for our talented students, and the prestigious international and national scholarships and fellowships keep rolling in. Join me in congratulating:
    • May graduate Hannah Byrd, B.A. (Arabic and Middle East Studies/International Studies), the first Baylor student to receive a Middle East and North Africa Regional (MENAR) Fellowship;
    • Alina Gavrilov, a sophomore humanitarian engineering major, who was selected for an inaugural summer research fellowship with Station1;
    • Christina Gaw, a sophomore biochemistry and anthropology major, who received a Barry Goldwater Scholarship for research in the STEM fields; and
    • Carter Anne Jones, a junior international studies and Russian major, who has been awarded a David L. Boren Scholarship to study in Indonesia.
  • I continue to be amazed by our students and our alumni, many of whom are serving around the world and flinging their green and gold afar. One is Douglas Silliman, B.A. '82, who assumed the role of U.S. Ambassador to Iraq in September 2016. For more than three decades – and across six presidential administrations – Silliman has served with the U.S. Department of State in locations like Haiti, Turkey, Jordan, Pakistan, Tunisia and Kuwait, where he completed his first ambassadorship. I am thankful for our alumni who serve as valuable role models for students considering a career in public service.

On a final note, one of the goals I set forth during my first year as President was to build the University's leadership capacity in support of Baylor's mission and strategic direction. This continues to be a work in progress as we search for Baylor's next Provost, but a significant piece was put in place a couple of weeks ago with the hiring of Brett Dalton as Chief Business Officer. We look forward to Mr. Dalton joining Baylor on July 1 from Clemson University, where he currently serves as Executive Vice President for Finance and Operations.

Thanks for being a part of the Baylor Family. Here's to a great remainder of the week!

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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