Presidential Perspective - January 31, 2019

January 31, 2019

Baylor Students, Faculty and Staff:

Tomorrow is a special day in the life of Baylor as we celebrate Founders Day and the 174th anniversary of the University. On Feb. 1, 1845, Baylor’s charter was officially signed by Republic of Texas President Anson Jones. Yes, Baylor was chartered before Texas was even a state. And we remain the oldest continuously operating university in Texas – a proud point to share with your Longhorn and Aggie friends!

Each year on Feb. 1, we announce the recipient of the Founders Medal, which is reserved for those whose service and contributions have been unusually significant to the life and future of the University. I wanted to give you a little “sneak peek” that tomorrow we will announce the City of Waco as the 2019 recipient of the Founders Medal. From Baylor’s move to Waco in 1886 to the construction of both Waco Hall and McLane Stadium, the City has been an invaluable partner of the University and the Baylor Family, of which our highest honors are deserved. Congratulations, and we love you, Waco!

Here are several updates for this week:

  • We have put together a host of academic opportunities, special events and celebrations in recognition of Black History Month, which begins tomorrow through the end of February. I am personally looking forward to attending the dedication of a bronze bust of Vivienne Malone-Mayes, Ph.D., the first full-time African-American professor hired at Baylor, in the third-floor lobby of the Sid Richardson Building on Feb. 26. Here is a summary of Black History Month activities, along with a slate of events coordinated through the Department of Multicultural Affairs.
  • Hankamer School of Business Dean Terry S. Maness, D.B.A., announced yesterday he will step down as dean at the end of the 2019-20 academic year. Dean Maness has served as Baylor’s business school dean since 1997, following a year as interim dean in 1996. Dean Maness will leave an indelible legacy, both with Baylor and personally with me from when I previously served as an associate dean under his leadership. We will communicate about the search process for this leadership role in the future.
  • This week you’ve probably seen several articles and tips posted on Baylor’s website and social media channels relating to data privacy and cyber security, as World Privacy Day was recognized on Monday. As individuals and as a University, we need to be diligent and proactive in the protection of our personal and private information. I encourage you to take some time to read the articles and act on some of the “pre-spring cleaning” tips shared by Doug Welch, Baylor’s chief privacy officer.
  • This month Baylor enrolled our first class in a new Global Gateway Program, which provides an opportunity for high-achieving international students to prepare their English skills over a few semesters before transitioning into full-time undergraduate status. A partnership between Undergraduate Admissions and the Center for Global Engagement, this inaugural class includes 23 Global Gateway Students. We hope that you welcome them warmly to Baylor as we grow this new program.
  • Emily R. Smith, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology in Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, was lead author on research published this month in JAMA, the influential Journal of the American Medical Association. Smith’s research – in collaboration with the Global Initiative for Children’s Surgery and the Duke University Global Health Institute – found a significant burden of health conditions, particularly congenital deformities and wound-related conditions, among children in Somaliland. The findings highlight expanding access to surgery for children in need, as well as screening and prevention programs. I am deeply appreciative of Baylor’s faculty researchers in our growing public health area, who illuminate Baylor’s strength in global health initiatives to reach vulnerable children, families and communities.
  • As the spotlight on the Texas Legislature continues in Austin, we are pleased to have a group of 32 Baylor students who assist the University in visiting with local, state and federal officials, as well as providing hosting services here on campus. The Baylor Ambassadors will take three trips to Austin while the Legislature is in session to help advance the priorities of Baylor and higher education in the state, in addition to their work at the federal level in Washington, D.C.

I am looking forward to launching our Give Light campaign with members of the Baylor Family in the nation’s capital Saturday evening at the Museum of the Bible. I will be joined by faculty members Lorin Matthews, Ph.D., professor of physics and associate director of Baylor’s Center for Astrophysics, Space Physics & Engineering Research, and Byron Johnson, Ph.D., founding director of Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion and Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences, along with several of their research colleagues and a group of student musicians. What an incredible group to demonstrate Baylor’s commitment of becoming a preeminent Christian research university, as outlined in Illuminate.

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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