Dear Baylor Students and Parents,
Thank you for your resilience and support during the past few months as Baylor University joined higher education institutions and communities around the world in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the spring semester behind us and our online Summer of Discovery academic sessions in full swing, we now turn our eyes to the fall.
All of us are eager to return to an on-campus educational environment for the fall semester beginning August 24. We plan to provide a Baylor-quality education as we have done for 175 years, regardless of the method of course delivery. We understand our strengths are based on the interaction between faculty and students and their resulting intellectual, social and spiritual development. Our goal is to deliver the upcoming semester in a way that is mindful of the need to contain the spread of COVID-19 and fulfill our mission of educating men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community.
After consultation with the Deans, academic leadership and Faculty Senate’s Executive Committee, we are announcing that we will shorten Baylor’s fall academic calendar. We will still begin classes on August 24, but we will complete the majority of course instruction on-campus before the Thanksgiving holiday and conduct final exams online in early December. Due to fewer days on-campus, we will reduce the costs of housing, dining and parking on a prorated basis for students.
To allow for this revised schedule, we will hold classes on Labor Day, eliminate Fall Break, and shorten the Thanksgiving holiday. All of this is being done to maximize in-person instructional opportunities and to minimize student travel during the fall and its attendant risk of COVID-19 spread. Please note that the academic calendar for Baylor Law School, which operates on the quarter system, will not be affected by these changes.
Additionally, due to the shortened fall academic calendar, we will eliminate the fall commencement ceremonies, which were initially scheduled for December 19. We invite our December degree candidates to participate in the spring commencement ceremonies scheduled for May 2021.
During the course of our assessment of options for the fall semester, we have sought to make decisions that are right for Baylor University and our students, faculty, and staff—not simply to follow the example of other institutions. Every college and university across the United States must make its own decisions regarding what is appropriate and feasible in creating the best learning environment possible within reasonable health and safety protocols related to COVID-19.
As shared with the campus community this week, face coverings are required to be worn by all individuals in all buildings on the Baylor campus. This requirement is consistent with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about face coverings, and with our previous communication regarding our multi-layer “Swiss Cheese” approach to minimize the impact of COVID-19 on the campus community. This layering of strategies to prevent COVID-19 spread includes handwashing, cleaning and disinfecting, and maintaining social distance between other people. These preventive measures are vital in helping us hold on-campus instruction for the fall semester.
For more than 175 years, Baylor University has been dedicated to educating men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community. Today, our dedication to continuing to serve as a beacon of hope and compassion for the surrounding world remains as strong as ever. Thank you for your spirit of encouragement and confidence and your enduring love for Baylor.
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.