Presidential Perspective - September 24, 2020

September 24, 2020

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

Our Illuminate vision – for Baylor to be recognized as a Tier 1/Research 1 university while holding firm to our Christian mission and Baptist heritage –requires a team effort to achieve. Tomorrow is National Research Administrator Day, a day set aside to celebrate the dedicated individuals who advance research in universities across the country.

Throughout Friday, we will highlight Baylor research on billboards in Dallas and Houston, on social media and through a partnership with the Texas Tribune. Behind the scenes, research administrators assist faculty in grant proposals, reporting compliance and more, making a meaningful impact as they support and advance research across campus. As you see and share these stories, please take a moment to join us in celebrating everyone who makes Baylor research possible.

This week also marks National Postdoc Appreciation Week, during which we recognize the contributions of Baylor’s postdoctoral scholars. Postdocs are professional researchers who have earned their terminal degrees and are working toward independent careers in a variety of fields, including as faculty. These scholars greatly enhance research as they work with faculty mentors in labs and departments across campus, advancing daily research objectives and helping elevate Baylor toward the goals of Illuminate. Last year, the University launched a postdoctoral hiring program to more than double the number of postdocs on campus over the next five years. Like research administrators, their work is often unsung but incredibly meaningful.

Some other news to share this week …

  • Baylor recently was ranked No. 5 nationally in student engagement by The Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education College Rankings 2021. The rankings included 797 institutions. The engagement category measures how well a university informs, inspires and challenges students. Baylor also earned the top ranking of Big 12 universities in the engagement classification.
  • Earlier this week, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx visited the Baylor campus and praised the University’s COVID-19 prevention and mitigation efforts. You can check out these articles from the Lariat and the Waco Tribune-Herald. Based on the recommendation of Dr. Birx, we will increase our random COVID-19 testing of students living off campus to 10% each week as we work with our Waco and McLennan County partners to reduce the rate of community spread in the area.
  • If you look at Baylor’s COVID-19 dashboard each day like I do, you may have noticed an update that occurred Wednesday afternoon. Most notably, we have added two new graphs and segmented cases by students, faculty, staff and contractors. We have also simplified our positivity rate reporting in accordance with CDC guidelines.
  • It’s that time of year in which we encourage all students, faculty and staff to get a flu shot, and with COVID-19 this year, getting a flu shot has even more importance. Over the next couple of weeks, Baylor Wellbeing has organized free Flu Shot Clinics in the BSB. Additionally, the Baylor Health Center also is offering free flu shots to students, faculty and staff. Check out Baylor Wellbeing for the schedule for both clinics.
  • The Presidential Election is 40 days away, and you still have time to register to vote. Less than half of all eligible college students cast a ballot in 2018. Your voice is needed, and as Americans, it is vitally important that we all exercise our right to vote. A host of election- and census-related resources were included in Baylor News Digest yesterday.
  • Did you know that Baylor recycled or reused 684.56 tons of materials last year? This fact and more are included in Baylor’s 2019-20 Social and Economic Impact Report that was released last week by the Office of External Affairs. In addition to sustainability initiatives, the document provides an overview of Baylor’s economic impact, research significance and cultural enrichment for Waco and beyond.
  • Hopefully the “third time’s a charm” and Coach Aranda and our Bears have an opportunity to open the 2020 football season this Saturday. I know there’s a lot of pent-up excitement for kickoff – be sure to get ready by wearing green and gold for Spirit Friday. Remember to follow our Family First COVID-19 preventive measures whether you will be cheering for the Bears at McLane Stadium or watching from home or in the community. And as I communicated with parents Wednesday, it’s important for them, too.

In these times of great anxiety and concern for our country and beyond, please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Baylor has many resources available to students, faculty and staff, and I encourage you to seek help should you need prayer, counseling, assistance with class or work, or simply encouragement. The Baylor Family is here with you.


Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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