Presidential Perspective - April 30, 2020

April 30, 2020

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

From day one, the Class of 2020 was destined to be history-makers. This distinctive group of students will graduate in the year of the University’s 175th anniversary, joining the long legacy of the Baylor Line that has carried our Christian mission and values into every corner of business, government and education as well as throughout the world. Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought an even greater spotlight on this year’s graduating class, as they have adapted and faced the coronavirus with great strength, creativity and resilience.

Baylor will honor our graduating students with a distinctive Senior Week, May 11-16, in which we will host various virtual events and recognitions that will conclude with a Presidential Evening with me on Saturday, May 16. In addition, we are preparing a special gift for all of our graduates to commemorate not only the past semester, but the indelible mark the Class of 2020 will leave on Baylor. I look forward to celebrating these memories with all of you.

More information for our graduates will be forthcoming, but the first order of business for all of our students will be final exams May 6-11. It’s hard to believe this unprecedented semester is coming to a close. I sincerely appreciate the patience, understanding and dedication of our students, faculty and staff as Baylor has continued to let its light shine in the midst of this global crisis.

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

  • The conclusion of the spring semester signals a new step for many faculty members who are embarking on an equally new adventure in life: retirement. This year’s retiree class includes 53 renowned members of the Baylor academy. We thank them for their selfless service to Baylor students throughout their careers and wish them well in this next chapter of their lives.
  • As we intend to safely resume in-person teaching, learning and residential life for the fall 2020 semester, the University faces many scenarios and uncertainties for which we need to plan. The President’s Council has established “Project 8.24,” which involves a campus-wide team that will work with the Provost’s Office, Division of Student Life and other groups to develop and evaluate plans and decision timelines for a successful start of the fall semester on Aug. 24. I anticipate that we will need to make many adaptations and accommodations in the weeks and months ahead to our normal fall activities and schedule. In other words, we will be preparing for a “new normal” as we face continued challenges from COVID-19.
  • Four Baylor faculty members have been named recipients of National Science Foundation Early Career Development grants, known as CAREER grants, that cultivate the research of promising scientists and engineers over several years. With these latest grants to Kenny Befus, Ph.D., Geosciences; Elyssia Gallagher, Ph.D., Chemistry & Biochemistry; Stanley Ling, Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering; and Michael Scullin, Ph.D., Psychology & Neuroscience, Baylor now has nine active CAREER grants totaling more than $6 million, with another to be announced soon. This support will advance these faculty members’ innovative research, ranging from volcanology and analytical chemistry to computational fluid dynamics and sleep neuroscience, as we pursue our R1/T1 aspirations under Illuminate.
  • Baylor Law School is again No. 1 among the 10 Texas law schools in the state’s bar exam passage rate. Baylor students passed the February bar exam at an 88.1 percent rate, compared with the overall state pass rate for Texas law school students of 64.26 percent. Baylor Law has had unprecedented success, securing the top spot on 26 of the past 39 bar exams given. Sic ’em, Baylor lawyers!

I continue to be impressed by the many new ideas and initiatives in support of our current, incoming and prospective students. Our Summer of Discovery is off to a tremendous start, as we provide discounted summer school rates for current students, as well as topical introductory course bundles for incoming freshmen and even rising high school seniors. I am encouraged for the summer months as we prepare for a green and gold fall!

Praying for you daily,

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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