Presidential Perspective - May 30, 2019

May 30, 2019

Baylor Students, Faculty and Staff:

Earlier this month, we celebrated the announcement of a transformative $100 million gift to Baylor University—the largest current gift ever received by the University. On a recent episode of Baylor Connections, we examined how the many facets of this gift provide incredible momentum to our Give Light fundraising campaign and the goals of Illuminate, our strategic plan, in a variety of ways.

One of those areas is a matching program embedded in the gift, which will enable the university to fund up to 17 endowed faculty positions. Endowed faculty positions make a statement to prospective faculty about the support they’ll receive for the important work they can do here at Baylor, and aid us in recruiting outstanding new teachers and researchers. We also discuss new athletic facilities, the Tidwell Bible Building and more on the program. As you enjoy the summer months, the weekly Baylor Connections podcast is a great way to stay connected to what’s going on across campus. Each episode is archived at baylor.edu/connections.

Here are several items of note for this week:

  • The Texas Legislative Session ended on Monday, and even though Baylor is a private institution, there are several pieces of legislation that will impact the University. In adopting the HB 1 state appropriations bill, the Legislature increased funding for the Texas Equalization Grant program for the coming biennium by $6.8 million to $178.6 million, or approximately 4 percent above the current appropriation. This vital program will allow approximately 26,200 Texas students per year to attend private institutions like Baylor. I wrote about the value of the TEG program for students and the state of Texas earlier this year.

    The Legislature also passed two comprehensive campus sexual assault bills –SB212 and HB1735 – that are now awaiting Governor Abbott’s signature for implementation in August 2020. A related bill, HB449, will require transcript notations for certain offenses committed by a student that result in expulsion. If signed by the Governor, this law would go into effect this September. All three of the bills are applicable to both public and private colleges and universities. As many of you may be aware, the U.S. Department of Education is currently reviewing feedback regarding future changes to Title IX at the federal level. We will continue to align our policies to all state and federal laws and regulations in this important area.

    I would like to personally extend my appreciation to our Baylor alumni in statewide offices and in the Legislature for their selfless service and continued support of the University.

  • Big changes are occurring this week on I-35 as construction crews have begun taking down the 8th Street pedestrian bridge in advance of widening the Interstate and improving frontage roads. Your safety, however, is paramount. Please use the pedestrian crosswalks at 4th/5th streets or University Parks Drive, and never attempt to cross I-35 on foot. Use this real-time website – https://waco4bmap.org, part of the BE SAFE BE SEEN initiative – to help you plan and safely navigate your route through the construction zone, whether by car, bike or on foot. In addition, we’ve learned that TxDOT will temporarily close the northbound Exit 335A (Downtown 4th/5th) tonight, weather permitting, to allow for construction of a temporary ramp that will open this fall. In the meantime, use the earlier exit 334B (8th Street) to access downtown or campus.
  • With summer upon us, those seeking fun blended with education here in Waco might check out Baylor’s Mayborn Museum Complex, which is celebrating its 15th birthday. Just opened is the traveling exhibit “Be the Astronaut,” designed by NASA engineers, which uses video game technology to teach STEM-based content and take visitors to one of three virtual locations: Jupiter, Mars or the moon. But the Mayborn has much more to offer, including natural and cultural exhibits ranging from a humpback whale skull to a historic village to interactive exhibits. For more information, visit www.baylor.edu/mayborn.

It’s the time of year when we see a lot of new, young faces walking across our campus as either part of prospective student tours, summer camps or Orientation, which begins next week. Please be sure to welcome them to Baylor and offer assistance if anyone looks lost. Not only do we have one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, we also have one of the friendliest!

Sincerely,

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.
President

Are you looking for more News?