Presidential Perspective - December 13, 2018

December 13, 2018

Baylor Students, Faculty and Staff:

It’s always sad to peek out my office window and see the stillness of campus, signaling that another semester has come and gone. But I always look forward to Commencement, and this Friday and Saturday we will confer approximately 970 degrees, welcoming a class of new alumni into the Baylor Family. The ceremony for George W. Truett Theological Seminary will take place Friday at 3 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Waco, while Commencement for all other colleges and schools will occur Saturday at 9:30 a.m. in the Ferrell Center. More information, including parking, seating and live streaming, can be found online.

Here are several updates that may be of interest:

  • Many of you probably have seen the recent headlines regarding the criminal proceedings of a former Baylor student and fraternity president. Given the national media coverage, I feel compelled to reiterate that this former student has not attended Baylor since March 2016, when he was arrested on sexual assault charges. In addition, following his arrest, the fraternity he was involved in was suspended immediately by the University and currently remains suspended. Baylor handled this case quickly and in accordance with the University’s Title IX policy. Over the past two years, we have made sweeping changes and implemented significant improvements in training, education, policies and procedures in response to past sexual and interpersonal violence involving our campus community. Be assured that Baylor’s unwavering commitment is to our students – to continue to educate, train and respond appropriately and work continuously to ensure a safe, supportive and healthy educational environment for all students.
  • Earlier this week we received official reaffirmation of Baylor’s 10-year institutional accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Baylor has been accredited by SACSCOC since 1913, and I am proud to share with you that we are now accredited through 2027. Since program accreditation within our various Schools and Colleges is tied to regional accreditation through SACSCOC, this process has touched upon all programs, facilities and services throughout the University. Also, as part of the reaccreditation process, our Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), “Global Baylor: Addressing Challenges to Human Flourishing” is now fully approved.
  • Our national search for a new provost continues to proceed on schedule, and our Provost Search Committee led by co-chairs Cindy Riemenschneider, Ph.D., and Charles Weaver, Ph.D., has initiated the process of reviewing applications. Additionally, our consultants from AGB Search continue to have discussions with several promising candidates as we approach our initial application deadline of Jan. 2, 2019. We anticipate the committee will begin identifying a short list of candidates in early January, and then select a group of finalists from that list in early February. I know the committee appreciates the interest, prayers and support of the Baylor Family in this important work.
  • As part of another administrative update, I want to make the campus aware that Truell Hyde, Ph.D., vice provost for research, will transition out of his administrative role Jan. 1, 2019. Dr. Hyde will continue his service at Baylor as a professor in the department of physics and director of the Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics and Engineering Research (CASPER). Dr. Hyde has made many lasting contributions to research across Baylor and within the Waco community, including his work in the establishment of the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC). Please join me in expressing our appreciation to Dr. Hyde for his 17 years of service as Baylor’s “VPR.” As we continue work on Illuminate to realize our aspirations as a preeminent Christian research university, Kevin Chambliss, Ph.D., professor of chemistry and biochemistry and associate dean for research and graduate education for the College of Arts & Sciences, will serve as our interim vice provost for research.
  • Three teams of 48 Baylor students, faculty, staff and friends will serve locations in Texas and the countries of Guatemala and Italy as part of Baylor Missions over the winter break. These mission opportunities provide students with experiences that foster informed global engagement and promote the integration of faith with discipline-specific learning and hands-on service that contributes to real-world challenges. My daughter Shelby, a recent Rice University graduate, left yesterday for Guatemala with Baylor Missions as part of a collaborative effort with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Please keep these mission teams in your thoughts and prayers.

As we near Dec. 25, let’s all remember that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season!” I wish everyone a safe and joyous holiday season.

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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