Presidential Perspective - October 1, 2020
Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:
This month Baylor joins 179 of our fellow members of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities in the celebration of Christian Higher Education Month, which was established by the U.S. Congress in 2003. Baylor is proud to work alongside our CCCU colleagues to ensure that Christian higher education has a “seat at the table” and our distinct missions recognized and preserved.
As we continue our path toward Tier 1/R1 status, Baylor remains firmly grounded in our Christian mission in the Baptist tradition. The world truly needs a Baylor that is committed to the race we have started, striving to achieve excellence in teaching, research, the arts and athletics as outlined in the four pillars of our strategic plan Illuminate.
Some news to share this week …
- Baylor has received an “A” in the annual “What Will They Learn?” report of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. Baylor is one of only 23 schools to earn an “A” rating in the report, which assesses the general education programs at more than 1,100 colleges and universities. Ratings are based on how many of seven core subjects are included in the curriculum: composition, literature, intermediate-level foreign language, U.S. government or history, economics, mathematics and natural science. Baylor — which routinely has earned an “A” in the report — is committed to a rigorous core curriculum rooted in the liberal arts and Western tradition. Our College of Arts & Sciences recently expanded its core curriculum, which provides a foundation of shared religious and civic knowledge and the opportunity to develop skills central to Baylor’s mission.
- Yesterday was international podcast day, and I am a big fan of our own Baylor Connections, which publishes each Friday and also airs at 11 a.m. on Waco’s KWBU 103.3 FM. In last week’s podcast, Dr. Byron Johnson, Distinguished Professor of Social Sciences and Founding Director of Baylor’s Institute for the Studies of Religion, teamed with Frank Newport, a Baylor alumnus who worked with Gallup for more than three decades, to discuss the intersection of religion and politics.
- Election Day is just over a month away, and Baylor organizations are coming together to help students meet this year’s registration deadline and provide transportation to the polls for early voting. This Monday, Oct. 5, is the last day to register to vote, and Baylor Ambassadors will hold a Voter Registration Drive on Fountain Mall to provide a last-minute opportunity to sign up. Numerous campus organizations, including Student Government, College Democrats, College Republicans, NAACP, Young America’s Foundation and Young Conservatives of Texas will participate in the drive, which runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Throughout early voting, Baylor will offer transportation to the downtown Waco polling site each Tuesday from Oct. 13-27. Students can sign up here by Monday at 9 a.m. the day before they plan to vote to reserve a spot. Students unable to vote on Tuesdays can utilize a free shuttle from Waco Transit Monday through Saturday. We encourage students to vote and to continue following guidelines for social distancing and mask-wearing as you make your voice heard.
- Yesterday we announced the naming of the deanship of Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business to honor William E. (Ed) and Denise Crenshaw of Lakeland, Fla., for their support of the Give Light campaign and business school. The William E. Crenshaw Endowed Dean within the Hankamer School of Business was funded through a portion of the recently announced $5 million gift from the Crenshaws, which also included two endowed faculty positions as part of the Baylor Academic Challenge program.
- October is traditionally one of the busiest times of year for university counseling centers across the nation. Particularly during COVID-19, we want to focus on mental health throughout this month. Beginning next week, be on the lookout for a series of communications and engagement opportunities to practice mental health well-being and learn more about the resources available to students, faculty and staff. For students struggling with mental health concerns, please contact the Counseling Center at 254-710-2467. Faculty and staff also have many resources available through our employee assistance program. I strongly suggest taking advantage of these learning opportunities and resources and pray the coming weeks will help us all adopt best practices to stay well spiritually, physically and mentally.
- Today wraps up the 2020 African American Preaching Conference – “Celebrating the History of Black Preaching” – which was presented virtually by Baylor’s Truett Seminary and the Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching. The event, which began last year, honors the voice, message and historic impact of the African American pulpit. More than 500 individuals signed up for the conference, which featured eight prominent African American preachers from across the country. The Rev. Dr. Samuel J. Gilbert, pastor emeritus of Houston’s Mount Sinai Baptist Church, was honored with the Legacy Award.
- Today I am pleased to kick off of our annual United Way campaign for faculty and staff. Each year we choose to partner with an organization that has touched many lives in our community. This year’s campaign is titled “United for Waco Leadership Challenge,” and every donation makes an impact. Please visit the United Way Campaign page to enroll in payroll deduction or to print the giving pledge form.
As you can see, it’s a busy time for Baylor. Thank you for being a light in the world!
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.