Presidential Perspective - October 29, 2020

October 29, 2020

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

Everyone continues to do an incredible job complying with Baylor’s COVID-19 prevention and mitigation initiatives. Just like you, I am weary of all the testing, mask wearing and social distancing, but we must continue to press on for the health not just of ourselves, but of our neighbors and community.

The positivity rates from the surge testing I mentioned last week continue to be very low, with less than 20 cumulative positive cases. These tests are now beginning to be reflected on the University’s public dashboard. Because of our continued efforts in keeping the number of active cases and the corresponding positivity rate low within the Baylor Family, we have begun to schedule more and more student activities – with appropriate COVID-19 measures in place – as we near the completion of the fall semester.

A few updates to share with you this week …

  • Today we are celebrating a $2 million gift to Baylor from The DeBakey Medical Foundation of Houston that will create The Michael E. DeBakey, M.D., Selma DeBakey and Lois DeBakey Chair for Medical Humanities while advancing the Health Initiative within Illuminate. The DeBakey family’s legacy in higher education and the medical profession is truly inspiring, and we are honored that their legacy will continue through the distinguished faculty who will hold The DeBakey Chair. The inaugural holder is our own Lauren Barron, M.D., director of the Medical Humanities program, who provides leadership, mentorship and inspiring instruction to pre-health students who embrace the sacred nature of a vocation in medicine.
  • I am excited to announce that Baylor has partnered with Compassion International to bring about global human flourishing for children and families in poverty — and to create transformational experiences for their constituents that ultimately lead to poverty reduction. This partnership is birthed from the shared faith commitment and similar core values of the two organizations. Illuminate, Baylor’s strategic plan to expand our impact as a Christian research university, directly aligns with Compassion’s missional commitment to better understand the root causes that prevent children living in poverty from thriving in the 25 countries where the organization operates, as well as to engage the next generation of young people in releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ name.
  • I love to look back at Baylor’s history, particularly as it relates to our military ties and selfless service to our country. Seventy-four years ago this week is when the first memorial lampposts honoring those who served the United States were dedicated. Since 1946, just a year following the conclusion of World War II, more than 140 red granite lampposts now light the Baylor campus, both literally and figuratively. The next time you walk past one, stop and read the name on these moving tributes to these Baylor Bears.
  • As we look toward the Thanksgiving Break, mark your calendar for Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 11 a.m., as I will be joined by Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Chief Business Officer Brett Dalton and Chief Human Resources Officer Cheryl Gochis for an end-of-semester panel discussion for faculty and staff. I expect the University’s COVID-19 response will be a topic of conversation, along with our plans for the spring semester. Log-in information will be provided prior to the event.
  • An important reminder for faculty and staff: The new Texas law, SB212, requires any employee of a college or university to report to the Title IX Coordinator any information regarding an alleged incident of sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence or stalking, committed by or against a person enrolled at or employed by the institution at the time of the incident. I strongly encourage you to review this important information and our various reporting options. Failure to report, according to the law, could result in employment termination and criminal penalties of up to a year in jail.
  • Tomorrow (Oct. 30) is the last day for current students to request an all-online schedule for the spring semester through the Spring 2021 Online Schedule Request Form. This information will help us as we continue COVID-19 mitigation efforts and plan for a productive and healthy spring for our Baylor Family. Students who have questions about their spring schedule options should contact their academic advisor or University Advisement at or 254-710-7280.
  • If you’ve experienced Halloween on the Baylor campus before, you know that the First Gent and I like to dress up in costumes. And there’s a rumor that we give full-sized candy bars (only those from Waco’s M&M Mars facility, of course) to trick-or-treaters. So you may want to don a costume and drop by Allbritton House Saturday between 7 and 9 p.m. Social distancing measures will be in place. A few additional Halloween reminders:
    • We play football against TCU on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at McLane Stadium! Guidelines for the game can be found here, and costumes are welcomed and encouraged.
    • Note that a Halloween mask is not a substitute for a face covering used in the prevention of COVID-19.
    • Also, someone’s culture is not a costume. Here are five questions to consider when you are thinking about your Halloween costume.
    • Student Activities has planned a Halloween movie night outside the SUB beginning at 7 p.m. with food trucks near Fountain Mall.

Only 28 days left until the Thanksgiving Break … Keep up the great work!

Let’s #sicCOVID!

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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