Baylor Students, Faculty and Staff:
This is my last Presidential Perspective for 2019 – I can’t believe it! Looking back over the past 12 months, I have a great sense of honor and pride in our collective accomplishments as we continue to advance toward Tier 1/Research 1 status as the preeminent Christian university, as well as excitement for what 2020 holds. Some highlights from 2019 that immediately come to mind:
- Support of the Baylor Family, including a transformational $100 million gift for faculty chairs and facilities as part of our Give Light campaign;
- Strength in Leadership, with the addition of Provost Nancy Brickhouse to our leadership team;
- Momentum behind Illuminate, our strategic roadmap toward T1/R1 recognition;
- Success in Athletics, evidenced by seven of our teams currently ranked in the top 10 nationally; and
- Alignment for the future, behind our Baylor United brand with the interlocking BU logo and iconic Baylor Green and University Gold.
Thank you for your ongoing support of these efforts and the bright future ahead for Baylor.
A few items to spotlight this week before Christmas:
- It’s a little later than normal, but this Friday and Saturday we will recognize approximately 900 graduates as part of Commencement, welcoming a class of new alumni into the Baylor Family. This year we will have two ceremonies on Saturday, at 9:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., in the Ferrell Center. More information, including parking, seating and live streaming, can be found online. Commencement for Truett Seminary graduates will be held tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Waco.
- An encore broadcast of the 2018 Telly Award-winning production of “A Baylor Christmas” will be shared again across Texas and 16 states over the holidays through an ongoing partnership with KWTX and Gray Television. We are so blessed to have this platform to share tidings of comfort and joy this Christmas season through the musical talents of our outstanding Baylor Symphony Orchestra and combined choirs from the School of Music. You can find the broadcast schedule here or watch the encore program online at www.youtube.com/baylor.
- A new Baylor study led by assistant anthropology professor Samuel Urlacher, Ph.D., has found that forager-horticulturalist children in the Amazon rainforest do not spend more calories in their everyday lives than children in the United States, but they do spend calories differently. This finding by Dr. Urlacher and his research team provides clues for understanding and reversing global trends in obesity and poor metabolic health. The study is published in Science Advances and is already garnering some significant media interest.
- I have great news to share with you about our students receiving prestigious – and highly competitive – national and international scholarships. Congratulations to senior Gabbi Mucerino, the first Baylor student to be awarded a 2020 Charles B. Rangel Graduate Fellowship; senior Lawson Sadler, one of only 46 American university students to receive the 2020 Marshall Scholarship to the United Kingdom; and 2018 graduate Zane Zovak, who was named to the 2021 Class of Schwarzman Scholars to China. This is a real testament to how our faculty and Baylor’s transformational undergraduate education prepare students for worldwide leadership and service.
- It’s certainly been a challenging semester with I-35 construction. I am grateful for everyone’s patience and resilience, in particular, our Clifton Robinson Tower staff, who’ve taken the “scenic route” to campus many times this week! More changes are on the horizon in early 2020, including a shift of all southbound mainlane traffic to the north side of the interstate from BUS 77 to 17th/18th Streets to allow crews to rebuild the southbound mainlanes. In addition, the southbound exit for University Parks Drive (Exit 335B) will be closed during this time. As you return to campus in January, plan your travel in advance and check real-time traffic on I-35 through Waco at www.waco4bmap.org.
As we near Dec. 25, let’s all remember that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season!” I wish everyone a safe and joyous holiday season.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.