Presidential Perspective - August 27, 2020

August 27, 2020

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

I truly appreciate your efforts as we have all come together as the Baylor Family in the prevention and mitigation of COVID-19 at the start of the semester. I am pleased to see so many facemasks – some are quite creative and fashionable – as well as your efforts to practice social distancing across the campus. I understand that these precautions can be uncomfortable and oftentimes awkward, but they are absolutely vital as we look toward the second week of the semester in the midst of this pandemic.

Vice President for Student Life Kevin Jackson sent an important email to students and parents earlier this week that included three points that bear repeating:

  • Wear your mask in all campus buildings and at all times;
  • Check for COVID symptoms daily; and
  • Follow Baylor rules off-campus as well as on-campus.

This third point is critical – especially as we near the weekend – as the overwhelming majority of Baylor-related COVID-19 cases are occurring from activities and interactions among students who live off-campus. We need everyone to keep your Family First and adhere to the city’s restriction of no large social gatherings over 10 people, as well as activities that do not follow protective health practices. We are monitoring this situation closely – including with added off-campus security patrols beginning this weekend – and have already taken disciplinary action against several individual students and a student organization.

Also, if you plan to attend church on Sunday, many of Waco’s churches follow less stringent COVID-19 protective measures. We ask that you follow Baylor rules while worshipping not only for your ongoing protection, but for that of our local residents, many of whom are at high-risk for the virus.

Some other news to share this week …

  • Some of you may have noticed that Judge Lady has not been strolling the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat so far this semester along with her sister Judge Joy. She recently underwent a successful operation to remove a mass that had developed around her spinal column and impacted her mobility. Lady is resting comfortably and still in recovery within her private quarters here in Waco as we await diagnostic results of the removed mass.
  • Next week we will host the annual Fall Faculty Forum on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. and the Fall Staff Forum on Friday at 10 a.m. Both events will be held virtually, with Zoom links provided in advance of both sessions. These are great opportunities to visit with me, Provost Brickhouse and members of the President’s Council regarding our COVID-19 efforts and plans for the academic year.
  • Also next week, we will launch the 2020 Campus Climate Survey conducted by the Office of Institutional Research. We strongly encourage you to participate in this University-wide survey meant to measure perceptions of respect, cooperation, diversity, inclusiveness, accessibility and support among the Baylor community and opportunities for career advancement and academic success. The information we gather through this 15- to 20-minute survey is critical to Baylor’s mission of ensuring and promoting a caring campus community and planning future initiatives.
  • Even amidst the challenges of COVID-19, Baylor faculty continue to conduct meaningful research that advances Illuminate towards our goal of becoming a Tier 1 research institution. Over the past year, Baylor experienced significant growth in research awards, expenditures and more. That’s something to celebrate, and we’re showcasing five outstanding researchers in an upcoming national campaign. Be on the lookout this fall for the following professors: Kenny Befus, Ph.D., assistant professor of geosciences; Horace Maxile, Ph.D., assistant professor of music theory; Daniel Romo, Ph.D., The Schotts Professor of Chemistry and co-director of the CPRIT Synthesis and Drug-Lead Discovery Laboratory Lab; Annette von Jouanne, Ph.D., professor of energy systems; and Kelly Ylitalo, Ph.D., assistant professor of epidemiology. The campaign is produced by award-winning Dallas-based agency Johnson+Sekin and features photos from Tadd Myers, who is recognized as one of the top 200 advertising photographers worldwide. Thanks to the professors who gave of their time for the campaign, and to all of our faculty addressing meaningful global challenges through their research.

My prayer is that we find comfort and healing in the arms of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ during this great time of need as we face hurricanes, wildfires, the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing racial strife in our country. Please know that the University has many resources available for the Baylor Family, including the Counseling Center, Pastoral Care and the Employee Assistance Program.


Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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