Presidential Perspective - February 7, 2019

February 7, 2019

Baylor Students, Faculty and Staff:

It’s hard to believe that the first month of the spring semester has come and gone. We are blessed to have 16,550 students studying with us at Baylor this spring, which includes 13,290 undergraduates and 3,260 graduate and professional students. I encourage you to keep studying, get connected and tap into the many resources Baylor offers. As many of our students and faculty know, the spring semester moves pretty fast.

Here are several updates for this week:

  • This morning, I was honored to attend the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., joining lawmakers and faith leaders from throughout the globe in unified prayer for our nation and world. Since tomorrow also is World Day of Prayer, Reflection and Action Against Human Trafficking, a particular focus of the prayer breakfast came from keynote speaker Gary Haugen, CEO and founder of International Justice Mission, who emphasized the END IT Movement to stop modern-day human trafficking. One of our key areas of research at Baylor is studying the prevalence and impact of human trafficking on our state and nation, and I hope you will join me in prayer for our faculty, advocates, students and alumni, who are on the front lines raising awareness, providing support and changing laws and policies to stop this heartbreaking industry.
  • Next Tuesday, Feb. 12, is Baylor Day at the Texas Capitol, as we will partner with our Baylor Ambassadors and others in the Baylor Family to inform members of the Legislature about the significant impact the University has on the state. As I have mentioned previously, our top legislative priority is to maintain, if not enhance, funding for the Texas Equalization Grant program. We look forward to flinging our green and gold in Austin!
  • Improving the transformational undergraduate experience at Baylor is important to us, and institutional surveys are an excellent way to evaluate and inform our programs. National surveys are vital as well, as they provide information that reflects our academic reputation. On Feb. 12, Baylor’s Office of Institutional Research and Testing will send out the Enrolled Student Survey, which is administered every three years to undergraduate students to evaluate satisfaction with their education. Also this semester, a sample of students will receive the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education national student survey, which examines a range of key issues, including how engaged students are with their professors, their peers and their education. Last year, Baylor was among the top 12 U.S. universities that create a high level of engagement, both in the classroom and among students. If you receive either or both of these surveys, please take a few minutes to complete them.
  • Congratulations to Kelly R. Ylitalo, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology in the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, who has been awarded a prestigious Mentored Research Scientist Award (K01) from the National Institute on Aging within the National Institutes of Health to study the link between physical activity and healthy aging. The grant, valued at more than $626,000, will allow Dr. Ylitalo to partner with local health care organizations to develop and test new methods for capturing and interpreting data about physical activity. Her goal is to develop broader strategies that help people develop healthy habits across the course of a lifetime.
  • We continue to have a full calendar of events celebrating Black History Month at Baylor, including today’s Pruit Symposium, “Lord Make Me An Instrument: Black Sacred Music at the Intersection of Gospel and Jazz.” The annual event begins at 3:30 p.m. at Armstrong Browning Library, with a keynote by musicologist Melvin Butler, Ph.D., from the University of Miami. You won’t want to miss the gospel sing that follows at 6:30 p.m. at Toliver Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, 1402 Elm Ave., led by Dr. Butler and our own Horace Maxile, Ph.D., associate professor in the Baylor School of Music and Toliver Chapel’s keyboardist and men’s choir director.
  • As part of our celebration of Black History Month, our social media team compiled a short video highlighting seven pioneers who broke new ground at Baylor as our first African-American faculty, students and student-athletes. We are truly thankful for their ongoing legacy and how they have enriched our campus.
  • On Friday, we welcome our partners in the Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color as Baylor hosts the Spring 2019 Consortium Institute. This statewide collaboration – part of an overall initiative at The University of Texas at Austin called Project MALES (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success) – focuses on increasing individual success and post-secondary completion for Latino and African-American male students by connecting partners across educational sectors. We are honored to host the Consortium and look forward to sharing innovative ideas, research and best practices that lead to academic success.

I pray that you have a great rest of the week, and I hope to see you at the Ferrell Center on Saturday for basketball!

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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