Presidential Perspective - October 22, 2020

October 22, 2020

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

It’s that time of year when many of you feel the weight of the semester, which certainly has been exacerbated by the ongoing effects of COVID-19. Stress and anxiety are felt by all people at varying levels of severity, and each of us reacts differently. Baylor has many resources available to you, and we all should employ helpful ways to manage our health and well-being, such as:

  1. Maintain daily routines and make changes only when necessary. Schedules are a good way to keep anxiety at bay. Even if some changes need to be made, maintaining your overall routine is helpful. For help with academic planning and staying on top of your courses, connect with Academic Support Programs.
  2. Don’t completely isolate yourself from others. Some people may feel like withdrawing socially, but maintaining relationships can combat anxiety. Contact a Student Involvement Specialist to help you identify pathways to connect based on your passions, interests and calling.
  3. Stay physically active — be outdoors if you can — and eat well. Baylor Wellness has resources and tips for maintaining physical well-being.
  4. Keep grounded in your faith. Seek spiritual guidance from a pastor who can help and offer connections so that we don’t have to bear our burdens alone. The Office of Spiritual Life offers pastoral care and guidance throughout the week.

Students: If you or anyone you know is hurting, please reach out to the Baylor Counseling Center for assistance at 254-710-2467. And Faculty and Staff: I strongly encourage you to take advantage of the many helpful resources found in the Employee Assistance Program.

A few updates to share with you this week …

  • As we wrap up the first of two weeks of federally funded surge testing on our campus tomorrow, I want to acknowledge our students for your outstanding participation so far in this additional testing effort. More than 2,300 students registered this week for surge testing – which uses quick saliva-based tests – and we will test another 2,500+ students next week. All test results will be included in the totals on Baylor’s public dashboard.
  • Let me add that this surge testing will give us an additional comprehensive view of the prevalence of COVID-19 on our campus, and it’s important that we continue our multifaceted testing approach, from random and targeted testing to testing symptomatic students. This fall, we have conducted more than 47,000 tests on campus, which combined with wearing facemasks, social distancing, enhanced cleaning protocols and rapid contact tracing, quarantine and isolation within 24 hours of positive cases, has helped us control outbreaks. This has lessened the impact on our city and local healthcare system and kept us on the path to our goal – a successful in-person fall semester.

  • We ask that you join the Baylor Family in common prayer for our nation during this challenging election season. University Chaplain Burt Burleson and his team in Spiritual Life have put together “A Season of Prayer,” which is a simple prayer guide centered in scripture and available for download. Additionally, there will be brief in-person prayer gatherings in the Burleson Quadrangle on the next two Tuesdays, Oct. 27 and Nov. 3, beginning at noon. Be sure to wear facemasks and social distance if you plan to attend.
  • One bright spot during this fall of uncertainty and limited gatherings has been the opportunity to share Baylor Chapel each week outside the doors of Waco Hall. Each virtual gathering is a beautifully scripted worship service available not only for students, faculty and staff, but alumni, parents and friends as well. As Chapel’s Matthew Aughtry explains: “When you’re in a crisis, you need something that precedes it and outlasts it. [Chapel is] a different format, but it’s a reminder saying, ‘The Bible is true. Jesus is true throughout the ages. There’s a solid rock on which to stand.’” Scripture and the Gospel are the focus of our renewed online Chapel. I encourage you to visit Chapel online.
  • This is the time of year when we host Fall Premiere and invite thousands of prospective students and their families to campus to experience all that Baylor has to offer. Even though this fall’s version of Premiere will be virtual due to COVID-19, the excitement of #BU25 may be unrivaled in recent history. We have 4,994 students registered – including more than 2,200 from out of state – for the all-day event, which typically attracts 1,500 prospective students to Waco. A special thanks to the more than 50 faculty members who are helping Baylor’s light shine this Saturday.
  • Now here’s a headline that will grab your attention: “What do volcanoes, gemstones, butterflies and faith have in common?” Baylor assistant professor of geology Kenny Befus, Ph.D., shares how all are connected in the latest Baylor Connections podcast. Dr. Befus recently earned a prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award and is one of the faculty members spotlighted in this year’s campaign in support of Illuminate as we progress toward Tier 1/Research 1 status.
  • Bravo to Conductor-in-Residence Stephen Heyde, The Mary Franks Thompson Professor of Orchestral Studies in our School of Music, who has received the 2020 Arlin G. Meyer Prize in Music Performance from the Lilly Fellows Program. This nationally acclaimed prize honors a work that emerges from the recipient’s practice of the Christian artistic and scholarly vocations. For Professor Heyde, this was leading the President's Concert performance on Feb. 8, 2019, by the Baylor Symphony Orchestra, A Cappella Choir and Concert Choir of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in C Minor, “Resurrection,” a moving work about “life and death and most importantly, life after death … a deep and emotional reflection of the faith we profess.”

A reminder to keep yourself healthy and well during this critical stage of the semester. 34 days left until the Thanksgiving Break!

Let’s #sicCOVID!

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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