Presidential Perspective - January 9, 2020

January 9, 2020

Baylor Students, Faculty and Staff:

Welcome to the first Presidential Perspective for 2020! I am sure you have seen the many headlines this week of Coach Matt Rhule leaving Baylor for the Carolina Panthers in pursuit of his dream of coaching in the NFL. First and foremost, let me extend my deepest appreciation to Coach Rhule for his exceptional leadership of our football program over the past three seasons. We are especially appreciative of the efforts he has made in positively shaping the lives of our student-athletes, who have excelled on the field, in the classroom and in the community.

Secondly, Coach Rhule certainly leaves the Baylor Football in a much better place than when he arrived. There is great interest in Baylor, and we have a very bright future ahead. I have confidence in Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mack B. Rhoades IV and our leadership team in finding the right coach for Baylor and continuing our goal of competing at the highest levels of the Big 12 Conference and nationally while also Preparing Champions for Life.

A few items to spotlight on this first full week of January:

  • The beginning of the spring semester means entering the peak of flu season. If you haven’t received the flu vaccine yet – which protects against four flu strains and is covered by insurance – it’s available from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday at the Health Center on the second floor of the McLane SLC. Our medical director Dr. Sharon Stern also advises preventive measures, such as avoiding those with the flu, washing your hands, covering coughs/sneezes in your elbow/sleeve and, if ill, staying home until you are fever-free for 24 hours. If you do become ill, seek medical attention within the first 48 hours of symptoms. Stay well everyone!
  • Some major changes have occurred to I-35 since the break, including a shift of all mainlane traffic to the northbound side of I-35 from BUS 77 to 18th Street, as well as the closure of southbound Exit 337 (BUS 77/Elm Avenue) and Exit 335B (University Parks Drive). Exit 335C (MLK Blvd) should be used for access to University Parks Drive, 4th/5th Streets and Downtown Waco. Also note that from Friday afternoon through Monday morning, construction crews will be removing the southbound lanes that cross over University Parks Drive, which will close travel underneath the overpass during that time. As you return to campus, always “Know Before You Go” by checking real-time traffic conditions and closures at
  • Feb. 1 marks the final deadline for prospective students to apply for the Fall 2020 entering class. If you know of any excellent high school seniors who still haven’t applied to Baylor, please remind them to apply ASAP. Remember, we all play a role as brand ambassadors and recruiting the best and brightest Baylor Line each year. Our #BU24 class is already very impressive!
  • Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., announced earlier this week that Jeffry Archer, Associate Dean of User Services at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, will join Baylor as Dean of University Libraries, effective June 1. Mr. Archer has extensive experience at both McGill and the University of Chicago – two prestigious academic universities – and will play a key role in our quest to become recognized as a Tier 1/Research 1 university.
  • Many of us are “always on” — scrolling through social media, checking email or searching the web, says Angela Gorrell, Ph.D., assistant professor of practical theology at Truett Seminary. In her book “Always On: Practicing Faith in a New Media Landscape,” she writes that social media can lead to anxiety, jealousy and depression — but also can be an instrument of God’s unconditional love. “We often encounter an enormous amount of suffering online,” Dr. Gorrell said. “Rapidly seeing multiple examples back to back in articles or our newsfeeds can nurture empathy burnout.” In an online Q&A, she suggests how people can take action rather than becoming numb to suffering they see online.
  • An important reminder for faculty and staff: A new Texas law, SB212, requires any employee of a college or university to report to the Title IX Coordinator any information regarding an alleged incident of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence or stalking, committed by or against a person enrolled at or employed by the institution at the time of the incident. The law requires colleges to terminate employment for employees who fail to report such matters and imposes criminal penalties of up to a year in jail. I strongly encourage you to review this important information and our various reporting options.

As former basketball student-athletes, the First Gent and I would like to remind you that our two basketball teams both are currently ranked in the top 6 nationally. We hope to see you at the Ferrell Center this semester – start adding the men’s and women’s home games to your calendars now.


Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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