Presidential Perspective - January 17, 2019

January 17, 2019

Baylor Students, Faculty and Staff:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?’”

Those are powerful words from the late Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose life and legacy of service we will celebrate beginning tomorrow through next week. In addition to community events, including Friday’s wreath-laying ceremony at MLK Jr. Memorial Park here in Waco and Monday’s peace march and candlelight vigil downtown, many of our students will spend Monday’s MLK Day of Service – the nation’s largest day of civic engagement and the only federal holiday observed as a national day of service – by volunteering with Baylor Campus Kitchen, Keep Waco Beautiful’s Brazos River Cleanup and at 10 community gardens with the HOT Urban Gardening Coalition.

We also look forward to welcoming Waco ISD Superintendent Dr. A. Marcus Nelson as the keynote speaker for Multicultural Affairs’ annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Luncheon on Wednesday at the Cashion Academic Center. You can find a full list of events at

Here are several updates for this week:

  • As I visit with students, faculty, staff, alumni and parents, I am often asked about Baylor’s Christian mission, specifically what this means and how it can remain steadfast for future generations. To make a long answer short for this email: As members of the Baylor Family, we all own the University’s Christian mission and are charged with not only maintaining it, but advancing this institutional commitment each and every day. I encourage you to listen to last week’s Baylor Connections podcast, in which I tackled this important question in more detail.
  • Great teaching … Impactful research … Visionary mentoring … all good ingredients for a preeminent Christian research university. The latest issue of Baylor Magazine presents “Good Chemistry” – the story of John L. Wood, Ph.D., the University’s Robert A. Welch Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, and one of the many Baylor faculty exemplifying the goals of Illuminate. The renowned chemist and cancer researcher is recognized for his impactful work, but he says that isn’t his measurement of success. “My job is to engage my students as a consultant, to field questions, but never to tell them what to do or what to research. I’m here to produce people who can do that creative and critical thinking for themselves.”
  • If you are a faculty member, I want to personally invite you to attend our annual Spring Faculty Meeting on Tuesday in Foster 250. The doors will open at 3 p.m., with the program beginning at 3:30 p.m. We will discuss Illuminate as well as what’s ahead for Baylor this semester.
  • A key component of Baylor’s growing status as a Christian research university is a strong commitment to compliance and ethical behavior. In fact, one of the five strategic initiatives embedded in Illuminate focuses on Human Flourishing, Leadership and Ethics. As a demonstration of Baylor’s commitment, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Blake Abbe as our new Chief Compliance and Risk Officer. Mr. Abbe comes to Baylor from Kansas State University, where he served in a similar role.
  • Baylor’s Center for Christian Music Studies in the School of Music has been awarded a four-year $1.2 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. The grant is part of its Strengthening Congregational Ministries with Youth Initiative, which supports projects such as Baylor’s new “Building Bridges to the Future” effort that help engage young people more fully in their congregations’ mission and ministries. Randall Bradley, D.M.A., The Ben H. Williams Professor of Music, professor of church music and director of CCMS and our church music program, is leading the project.
  • Saturday’s men’s basketball game against Texas Tech marks our annual recognition of the Immortal Ten and the tremendous loss for the Baylor Family on Jan. 22, 1927. Each member of this year’s Baylor team will wear a name of the Immortal Ten on the back of his jersey for this special game. Also, I encourage you to arrive prior to the 5 p.m. tipoff, as we will unfurl a permanent banner memorializing the Immortal Ten that will hang from the Ferrell Center rafters as part of the pregame festivities.
  • Also, our No. 2 Lady Bears will return home to play West Virginia in a nationally televised game at 4 p.m. Sunday in the Ferrell Center. Wear your green and gold this weekend and cheer on our teams!

Well, we started the spring semester on Monday with pizza and cookies, and we’ve almost made it to Friday. Here’s to a great semester, and I am glad you are part of the Baylor Family!

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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