Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:
Now is not the time for us to become complacent regarding COVID-19. We are starting to see an uptick in the number of positive cases in the Greater Waco area coupled with a growing percentage of positive tests, in addition to increasing hospitalizations related to COVID-19 across the state.
While our Project 8.24 Team and others campus-wide are preparing for a full Baylor experience this fall, we must all do our part to help curb the spread of COVID-19 prior to Aug. 24 and certainly once everyone arrives back on campus. Let me emphasize that COVID-19 affects all age groups – even college-aged students – and social distancing guidelines such as maintaining a 6-foot buffer zone and wearing face coverings when around others are to protect yourself and also care for others. For Baylor’s latest status report and additional information regarding COVID-19, please visit the University’s COVID-19 website at www.baylor.edu/coronavirus.
Some Baylor news to share ...
- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had to adjust some of our summer programs and traditions that welcome Baylor’s Class of 2024 into the Baylor Family. From “at home” Orientation sessions to connecting parents through the online Baylor Parents Hub to Baylor Line Camp - Home Edition, our student volunteers and staff have stepped up in new and creative ways to ensure that our incoming students and their families receive a special welcome and instruction to Baylor. As of today, more than 1,850 incoming students have signed up for Baylor Line Camp - Home Edition. Although not in-person, we have taken great care to preserve the fun, purposeful and spirit-filled heart of the Line Camp experience for incoming students as they build relationships with one another before arriving on campus in the fall.
- I hope you will join me this Saturday at 10 a.m. for Waco’s Juneteenth Parade, which will begin at the historic Paul Quinn College campus in East Waco and end at Heritage Square. As I mentioned last week, Juneteenth celebrates when the message of the United States’ abolition of slavery finally reached Texas. In addition to the First Gent and BU, an all-star Baylor cast will accompany me in the parade, including Head Football Coach Dave Aranda, Head Men’s Basketball Coach Scott Drew and Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mack B. Rhoades IV.
- You can learn more about the history of Juneteenth and how to commemorate this time in Waco by visiting Baylor’s Solid Gold Neighbor Facebook page and viewing this week’s Cultural Wealth Wednesday post.
- As we continue conversations related to race and injustices as a University, I recognize the need to coordinate and institutionalize such important work, as well as include diverse backgrounds and viewpoints within our senior leadership team. Today I am pleased to announce the appointment of Malcolm Foley as special advisor to the president for equity and campus engagement and director of the Black church studies program at Baylor’s Truett Seminary. In this joint role, Mr. Foley will facilitate engagement and interaction with and among the many diverse members of our campus community and work collaboratively to develop initiatives designed to foster a welcoming and inclusive campus for all.
Mr. Foley previously served as a student regent for Baylor and is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Religion studying the history of Christianity. His dissertation investigates African American Protestants responding to lynching from the late 19th century to the early 20th century. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis and master’s degree at Yale Divinity School. Also the director of discipleship at Mosaic Waco, Mr. Foley will begin this essential role July 1 and will serve on the President’s Council.
- A reminder that Mr. Foley will join Greg Garrett, Ph.D., Mia Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D., and me for a Baylor Conversation Series event this Wednesday, June 24, at 3:30 p.m. I had a prep call with the panelists yesterday, and this is a discussion you will not want to miss. We will provide access information for this virtual event in advance.
- Last Friday I joined more than 160 college presidents and chancellors, including my colleagues in the Big 12 Conference, in signing on to the Higher Education Presidents’ Commitment to Full Student Voter Participation as part of the nonpartisan, national initiative ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. As an institution of higher education, we have a responsibility to prepare our students to become responsible and engaged participants in our democracy, and that includes, most importantly, to exercise the right and duty to register and to vote. With my full support, Dr. Mito Diaz-Espinoza, associate director for civic learning initiatives in our Academy for Leadership Development, is leading our campus-wide efforts to provide opportunities that engage students in electoral participation in 2020 and develop a voting culture at Baylor.
- We are committed to the success of all students at Baylor, including supporting those who are the first in their family to go to college. I was pleased to learn this week that Baylor has been elevated to designation of First-gen Forward Advisory Institution by the Center for First-generation Student Success, an initiative of NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and The Suder Foundation. This national honor recognizes our commitment to improving experiences and advancing outcomes of first-generation college students through such student success programs as First in Line, while also allowing Baylor to serve in an advising role within a regional community of peer institutions.
This is both a historic and important time for higher education in our country. The world truly needs a Baylor to shine a light.
Praying for you daily,
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.