Presidential Perspective - January 24, 2019

January 24, 2019

Baylor Students, Faculty and Staff:

As we near the end of January, I’m wondering how many of you have kept your New Year’s Resolutions? The First Gent and I have added some high-impact, bootcamp exercises to our morning routine at the McLane Student Life Center. And we’re still going! But when the alarm goes off signaling that it’s time to wake up and head to the SLC, I have to remind myself of Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

Here are several updates for this week:

  • With our admissions deadline right around the corner on Feb. 1, this weekend we will welcome a record 866 high-achieving high school students and a total of 2,251 guests to campus for our Invitation to Excellence scholarship event. Our undergraduate admissions team reports that this fall’s class is highly engaged and very strong – another sign of Baylor’s strength and resilience. Thank you all for being such great ambassadors for Baylor, both in-person and on social media, and here’s a link to the Baylor application as we approach the final deadline. We are always on the lookout for future Bears!
  • And be sure to welcome our guests to campus by wearing BU, green or gold for Spirit Friday.
  • Thank you to our faculty who attended the Spring Faculty Meeting earlier this week, as we provided an in-depth update on Illuminate, our academic strategic plan, and our steps to become a preeminent Christian research university. I spoke specifically on our commitment to the first pillar of Illuminate – Baylor’s unambiguously Christian education environment. As I mentioned last week, the entire Baylor Family plays a role in this commitment, which will only be enhanced as we move forward and expand the University’s research portfolio. A video of the meeting is posted online if you were unable to attend.
  • One of the signature initiatives of Illuminate focuses on Human Flourishing, Ethics and Leadership, as we seek to understand the conditions by which humans, communities and societies flourish. Sarah Schnitker, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology in the College of Arts & Sciences and a leading voice in both research and practice related to virtue and character development in adolescents, has received a $2.6 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation that will bring together teams of scholars, youth practitioners, and technology or media developers to create scientifically vetted interventions that build character strengths in adolescents. The project includes $1.27 million in sub-awards, and I look forward to the transformational work that will be accomplished. You can read more about the project at
  • I continue to be impressed at how our alumni support and give back to the University. This Friday, the Department of Film and Digital Media will host a question-and-answer session with Baylor alumni John Lee Hancock, B.A. ’79, J.D. ’82, director of movies, including “The Rookie,” “The Blind Side” and “Saving Mr. Banks,” and Derek Haas, B.A. ’91, M.A. ’95, co-creator and developer of television shows, including “Chicago Fire, PD and Med,” and screenwriter of several movies, including “3:10 to Yuma” and “2 Fast 2 Furious.” The event begins at 4 p.m. in Room 101 of Castellaw Communications Center and is open to the public. 
  • A couple of weeks ago I shared with you that Baylor’s top priority for the Texas Legislature over the next several months is the proposed growth of the Texas Equalization Grant program, which has allowed tens of thousands of deserving students to pursue their education at private universities across the state. I recently penned a TribTalk column for the Texas Tribune that discusses this important initiative in more detail.

As many of you know, February is Black History Month, and next week I will share some highlights of Baylor’s plans for the month-long celebration. Thank you to the many students, faculty and staff who recently participated in the numerous remembrances of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and legacy and demonstrated our Christian commitment to a caring community.

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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