Presidential Perspective - June 6, 2019

June 6, 2019

Baylor Students, Faculty and Staff:

The First Gent and I are often asked about our favorite places to “hang out” in Waco. While we don’t necessarily have a go-to place, on Tuesday night we both had a craving for a Twisted Root hamburger. And we were caught mid-bite … by a group of incoming #BU23 students and their families in town for the first freshman orientation session of the summer. One of the joys of serving as Baylor’s President is being able to welcome incoming freshmen and their families – both officially and even unofficially over a hamburger. This fall’s class is expected to hit our target of around 3,400 and is projected, yet again, to be our most academically talented group of students ever.

Here are several items of note for this week:

  • Last month we welcomed Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., back to campus as our Provost. A 1983 Baylor graduate, Dr. Brickhouse brings more than three decades of higher education leadership and a passion for impactful Christian higher education into her new role. You can get to know Dr. Brickhouse in tomorrow’s episode of Baylor Connections. On the program, she shares how her days as a Baylor chemistry major shaped how she views a life’s calling, the ways her experience as a teacher and leader prepared her for this exciting time in Baylor’s history and why the vision of a tier one Christian research university helped bring her back home to Texas. Baylor Connections airs tomorrow at 11 a.m. on KWBU (103.3 FM) and will be available as a podcast at baylor.edu/connections.
  • Last Friday as part of the Big 12 Conference’s spring meetings, I was able to brief the league’s board of directors on Baylor’s significant progress related to Title IX and the safety and security of our campus community. Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby commented to a Dallas Morning News reporter that our leadership “has done a tremendous job of leading Baylor through a difficult time and they’re clearly making progress. (President Livingstone) and her staff and the Board leadership are to be congratulated. They are moving ahead.” Additionally, Vice President and Director of Athletics Mack B. Rhoades IV and I are pleased to report that Baylor will receive a full share of the Big 12’s revenue distribution for this year and moving forward.
  • Today marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day, when more than 160,000 Allied forces landed along the beaches of Normandy, a defining moment that helped turn the tide of World War II. One of the many heroes that day was 1933 Baylor alumnus Joe Dawson. With his famed “Big Red One” (1st Infantry Division), Capt. Dawson was credited with single-handedly opening up an escape route for American troops who were pinned down by German gunfire on Omaha Beach. Although wounded, Capt. Dawson finally used two hand grenades to wipe out an enemy machine-gun position, undoubtedly saving the lives of countless American soldiers. He continued his service throughout the war and was honored for his brave actions by President Clinton on the 50th anniversary of D-Day. Today, we remember Capt. Dawson and all of our veterans and service members for their sacrifices for our freedom. The last name Dawson also is a familiar one on our campus –Dawson Residence Hall was named for Capt. Dawson’s mother, Willy Turner Dawson.
  • Baylor historian David A. Smith, Ph.D., reviewed the D-Day invasion in this Q&A. But his most telling comment is about the daily loss of WWII veterans and why it’s important – more than ever – that we document their experiences. “Speaking as a historian, we depend on the personal stories and firsthand accounts of dramatic events like D-Day to make the stories we tell more human, more relatable. Official records, military memos and documents like that can help us get the facts right, but there’s no way we can humanize the story without firsthand accounts of what the participants themselves felt like. Dwight Eisenhower, for all his central role, had no idea what it was like to storm that beach and what it took for the troops to live through that day.”
  • June is African American Music Appreciation Month, and here at Baylor, we are blessed to have faculty who study and preserve the legacy of African American classical and sacred music. Take a moment to listen to this Baylor Connections podcast with Horace Maxile Jr., Ph.D., in our School of Music, whose research fills the void about the contributions of African American composers in classical and concert music. Then follow that up with the “Heaven 11” list of the most influential black gospel songs compiled by journalism professor Robert Darden, founder of Baylor’s Black Gospel Music Restoration Project. You also can listen along to the accompanying Spotify playlist as he offers insight into the Heaven 11, from Freedom Songs to hit singles to the great old spirituals.

I hope your summer is off to a good start, and here’s to a great remainder of the week!

Sincerely,

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.
President

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