Presidential Perspective - October 8, 2020

October 8, 2020

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

Like so many other things this fall, COVID-19 has brought many changes to Baylor Homecoming – the oldest collegiate homecoming in the nation – which we will celebrate next week, Oct. 15-17. The good news is that hundreds of thousands of Baylor Alumni across the country will be able to participate in many of our time-honored traditions as they will be presented in a virtual environment. The bad news, unfortunately, is that we will not be able to host several in-person events, including the pageantry and spirit of the annual Homecoming Parade, which unites the campus and the City of Waco as the Baylor Family.

Our team in Student Activities has been working alongside Baylor Chamber of Commerce to preserve and enhance many elements of Homecoming that we have celebrated over the past 110 years. I encourage you to visit the Baylor Homecoming website to see the full schedule of activities and determine how you can participate in this unique year.

Of course, Coach Dave Aranda and our Bears will host Oklahoma State next Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in a key Big 12 matchup at McLane Stadium. And don’t worry, I’m green and gold all the way.

Some news to share this week …

  • Baylor has a long history of preparing men and women for service to our country as elected officials, civil servants and military leaders. Two such leaders, Jack Lummus (BSEd ’41) and John Kane (BA ’28) were awarded our nation’s highest military honor – the Medal of Honor – for their bravery and sacrificial service. The two also are believed to be the only pair of student-athletes at any university in the nation to have been awarded the Medal of Honor. Lummus played football, baseball and basketball for the Bears; Kane played football and basketball. In 2019, Haag (BBA ’88) and Millette Sherman of Houston provided funding and leadership for the design and sculpting of statues honoring these heroes. Those statues are nearing completion and are expected to be installed on the grounds of McLane Stadium in late November and celebrated along with our generous donors at the Nov. 28 football game. In addition, Baylor Alumni will host a special “Lunch with a Legend” event on Veterans Day, Nov. 11, in honor of these men and others who have served our country and in recognition of the generous alumnus who was called to honor them.
  • I always enjoy spotlighting the scholarly work of our faculty, and my office has teamed with the Office of the Provost and the Institute for Faith and Learning to support a new series, “Readers Meet the Author: A Virtual Reading Group for Baylor Faculty.” The series kicks off next Wednesday, Oct. 14, from 3:15-4:30 p.m. via Zoom with a conversation on the new book by Alan Jacobs, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Humanities in the Honors Program, “Breaking Bread with the Dead: A Reader’s Guide to a More Tranquil Mind.” Faculty should RSVP for the event by tomorrow.
  • Using smartphone check-ins twice daily for two weeks, sociologists from Baylor and Harvard University have found a link between individuals’ daily spiritual experiences and their overall well-being. While other studies also have found a connection between spirituality and positive emotions, this new research is significant because frequent texting made it easier to capture respondents’ moment-to-moment spiritual experiences rather than at only one or two points in time, said Matt Bradshaw, Ph.D., research professor of sociology in Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion. The method also will make future research on this topic possible on a larger scale.
  • Now on sale for Christmas: This year’s Baylor Traditions Ornament features a stained-glass window depicting the word “Hope.” The design is inspired by the windows of Memorial Chapel, a community worship space inside Memorial Hall. In honor of the ornament program’s fifth anniversary, we also are offering the entire ornament line this year, which includes the University seal, bear mascot (2016), Judge Baylor (2017), Sailor Bear (2018), Baylor United (2019) and Hope (2020), along with an exclusive ornament hanger handcrafted in Waco by the Harp Design Co. Proceeds will benefit the President’s Excellence Fund and projects that directly benefit students.

As I reflect on this promise of hope for the holiday season, I am called to Isaiah 40:31 – “Those who wait on the Lord will find new strength.” I pray that we put our hope in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ during this time of great uncertainty and seek comfort and renewal in his strength and loving arms.


Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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