Presidential Perspective - April 2, 2020

April 2, 2020

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

Over the past couple of weeks, I have heard of people hijacking the Wikipedia pages of several prominent universities, indicating they were a “private online university based in …”. I am happy to report that no one has commandeered our Wikipedia page so far. Baylor continues to be “a private Baptist Christian university in Waco, Texas.”

That “Baylor is still Baylor” was certainly the sentiment some 3,000 of our students echoed as part of the “check-in” survey we distributed last week. While some students are dealing with COVID-19 challenges related to finances, technology and family dynamics, the overwhelming majority indicated they simply want to be back on the Baylor campus.

Please know that I want our students, faculty and staff back on campus, too. We’ve had to make so many quick decisions over the past few weeks in response to COVID-19, but your health and well-being are always at the forefront of our thinking.

With that said, we have made the decision to continue with online course instruction through the May Minimester (May 13-June 1), Summer I (June 2-July 7) and Summer II (July 9-Aug. 12). If we are able to re-open campus at some point in the summer, we will supplement the summer sessions with face-to-face classes. For the fall semester, we are planning for campus to be open and for classes to be conducted in a traditional face-to-face manner. Obviously, we are closely monitoring the COVID-19 spread and will keep you updated in the weeks and months ahead.

We are in process of expanding our summer course offerings, as well as putting together some new course bundles specifically for this unique summer. Knowing that vacation travel may be limited this year due to COVID-19, now is a great time to continue your degree progression in the summer months ahead with many of the professors you love in a supportive, Christian environment – even online.

Don’t forget that early registration for the summer and fall semesters begins this Tuesday, April 7.

Some additional information to share with you this week ...

  • Our colleagues in the Paul L. Foster Success Center put together some recommended strategies as students transition to online learning. In fact, study strategies that work well on campus translate well to the online environment — with a few small tweaks:
    1. Make sure you create a study plan with designated times to study and specific goals to accomplish. Don’t fall into the trap of “floating” through the day.
    2. Take breaks from the computer screen. Research shows that studying for 40-45 minutes then breaking for 10 minutes helps the brain process and retain information. Remember that screen time is hard on the body and exhaustive to the brain. See these tips for staying focused.
    3. Stay in touch with your professors and contact Success_Center@baylor.edu for questions and additional support and encouragement as you finish strong this semester.
  • With the great majority of students scattered around the country and world, we are preparing to launch a special initiative called Bear Care. The Bear Care program will provide a select group of students with individualized support from Baylor staff and faculty as “coaches” to help them be successful this semester and on the path to returning this fall to continue their Baylor education. This is a wonderful way for staff and faculty, who are passionate about connecting positively with students, to be a real difference-maker in their lives, especially during this time of great uncertainty. I encourage those of you who are inspired to assist our students through this important initiative and can invest five hours or more a week to sign up at BearCareSignUp. For more information, email bearcare@baylor.edu.
  • An innovative partnership led by the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty to feed elementary and secondary school students in rural areas affected by COVID-19 school closures was in the national spotlight during a White House press briefing last Friday. The briefing highlighted Emergency Meals-to-You, a public-private partnership coordinated by the Baylor Collaborative with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, McLane Global and PepsiCo, with the goal of delivering 1 million food boxes each week to rural students. This initiative illustrates how Baylor is transforming lives through evidence-based, capacity-building partnerships that address critical issues, such as child hunger.
  • We all are navigating a very challenging time – working and taking classes remotely, being away from friends or home with children, adapting to new routines. Even as our Baylor faculty have adjusted their teaching to online course instruction, they also have taken time to offer our campus community some timely research-backed “hot topics” on the impact of COVID-19, from supply chains to small businesses, caring for our physical, mental and spiritual health to spending quality time with family, and the importance of maintaining connection with one another, even during this time of social distancing.
  • Effective April 1, Baylor health plan members and dependents now have 24/7 access through MDLive to licensed counselors, therapists and psychiatrists for issues such as anxiety, depression, trauma, loss or relationship problems. All faculty, staff and their dependents will continue to have access to additional helpful resources through the Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
  • Since 1982, only 26 professors have been designated Master Teacher, the highest honor granted to Baylor faculty members for sustained excellence in teaching. This week, we added three more outstanding faculty members who are deservedly among the ranks of some of Baylor’s most distinguished teachers. Please join me in congratulating Master Teachers Robert F. Darden III, BSED ’76, MJ, professor of journalism, public relations and new media; Anne-Marie Schultz, Ph.D., professor of philosophy and director of the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core; and Charles A. Weaver III, BS ’84, Ph.D., professor and chair of psychology and neuroscience.

With the McLane Student Life Center currently closed, the First Gent and I have had to alter our early morning workout routine. Assistant Director of Wellness Van Davis paid us a surprise visit to the Allbritton House this past Sunday for a special 45-minute FitWell workout. Van and her team in the Department of Wellness are uploading new workouts daily Monday-Saturday. As we all stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, you can tackle these free workouts on the Baylor FitWell Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Sincerely,

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.
President

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