Presidential Perspective - February 21, 2019

February 21, 2019

Baylor Students, Faculty and Staff:

I am currently in the midst of Baylor's quarterly Board of Regents meeting, which will last through the end of the day tomorrow. For those of you unfamiliar with the Board of Regents, this is a group of 41 dedicated volunteers who serve as the official governing body of the University and provide strategic and fiduciary oversight for Baylor.

During each Regents meeting, we typically establish a theme that carries through all of the committee meetings and into the full Board meeting. This quarter we are doing a deep dive into the first pillar of Illuminate: Baylor's unambiguously Christian educational environment. We are discussing ways in which we can not only maintain Baylor's Christian heritage and commitment, but enhance this area of distinction as we expand our institutional focus on research, scholarship and discovery. As we've done previously, we will provide the Baylor Family with a summary of the Board's discussions and action items following the meeting.

Here are several updates for this week:

  • Congratulations to Coach Kim Mulkey and the Lady Bears for clinching at least a share of their ninth straight Big 12 Championship last night with an 80-40 win over Kansas. Baylor is currently No. 1 in the country with a 24-1 record, including a perfect 14-0 in Big 12 play. Your next opportunity to see the Lady Bears in action at the Ferrell Center is Monday against rival Texas at 6 p.m.
  • As we continue our Give Light campaign, a new $2 million gift from two Baylor parents from California will provide significant support for students and faculty in our nationally renowned Global Mission Leadership (GML) program in the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work, including creating an endowed Chair in Global Leadership. The GML program brings global Christian leaders to Baylor to earn a master's degree in social work - a credential largely unattainable in many of their home countries where the profession of social work is rare - while also sharing their global perspectives with our students and faculty. The gift was inspired by two things: The GML program putting into practice many of the family's own beliefs about effective, Christ-centered, missional approaches to global ministry, and Baylor's firm commitment as an unambiguously Christian university.
  • A new Baylor study finds that while women are more likely than men to believe the Bible is literally true, that may have more to do with how people relate to God than it does a "gender gap." Both men and women who report high levels of closeness to God take the Bible more literally - and this confidence grows stronger as they seek intimacy with God through prayer and Bible study. The research, published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, was conducted by Christopher Pieper, Ph.D., senior lecturer and undergraduate program director of sociology in the College of Arts & Sciences, and Baylor graduate Blake Victor Kent, Ph.D., now a research fellow at Harvard Medical School.
  • Baylor researchers were among an international group of scientists whose study has determined that fossil fuel combustion is the main contributor to black carbon around the Arctic. The Baylor portion of the five-year study, published in the premier journal Science Advances, focused on a remote site in Alaska and was led by Rebecca Sheesley, Ph.D., associate professor of environmental science in the College of Arts & Sciences, and Tate Barrett, Ph.D., a former student of Sheesley. Other sites were in Russia, Canada, Sweden and Norway. The research was conducted to determine why the Arctic is changing and what pollutants should be controlled to mitigate that change.
  • From time to time, we make strategic realignments in the University's organizational structure. Today I wanted to inform you that Darin Davis, Ph.D., will transition out of his duties as vice president for university mission on June 1, but will continue to serve Baylor in his role as director of the Institute for Faith and Learning. We look forward to Dr. Davis's ongoing leadership in this important area for Baylor, as we all have a responsibility for our Christian mission each and every day.

I cannot believe that February has almost come and gone! I hope to see you Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. in the Sid Richardson Building for the dedication of a bronze bust in honor of Vivienne Malone-Mayes, Ph.D., the first full-time African American professor hired at Baylor.


Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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