Presidential Perspective - November 19, 2020
Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:
With Thanksgiving only a week away – and the end of the semester just beyond it – I want to offer my deepest gratitude for the strength of spirit and compassion you have shown to others throughout this fall. Despite many challenges and unusual circumstances, you have displayed a commitment to strengthening the Baylor Family and to striving for the very best that each one of us can achieve.
In Psalm 95:2 we read, “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving.” The psalmist also tells us, “It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord” (Ps. 92:1). This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to join Brad, Shelby and me in lifting up our hearts to the Lord with gratitude and gladness – yes, even during these times of COVID-19.
Practicing gratitude is important to both our own well-being and to building community among those with whom we live and work. Openly and joyfully expressing our gratitude to God is one of the great privileges Baylor University enjoys as an academic institution with a steadfast commitment to our Christian mission. We do indeed have much for which to be thankful!
A few updates to share with you this week …
- As we near the fall finish line, please continue to take great care and make good choices heading into the holidays. We know how much everyone wants to gather together for holiday parties or dinners or attend church before the Thanksgiving break, but more than anything, we want you to be able to go home healthy and keep your families (and any vulnerable friends and relatives) safe and healthy. Our Health Management Team suggests you check out this planning tool developed by Georgia Tech that shows the risk level of attending an event, given the event size and location. Continue to mask up, practice physical distancing, wash your hands and avoid crowds.
- Please take advantage of the University’s extended voluntary COVID-19 testing before Thanksgiving for students, faculty and staff. This free, walk-up testing is available via the MyLabsDirect (MLD) Tent 4 on Fountain Mall from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily through Friday and again on Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 23-24. Please note that this is regular testing, not rapid testing. Results will be available and emailed in 1-2 days.
- If you missed yesterday’s panel discussion for faculty and staff – “Fall in Review, Anticipating 2021” – a recording has been posted on my website. Joining me were Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D.; Chief Business Officer Brett Dalton; and Chief Human Resources Officer Cheryl Gochis as we discussed Baylor’s current situation regarding COVID-19, reflected on the fall semester and looked forward to Spring 2021. Our hour together went by way too fast, so we will post answers to your submitted questions below the video in the days ahead.
- It is my honor to announce a $1.5 million gift commitment from an anonymous Baylor alumnus to help establish The Terry S. Maness Endowed Chair in Lab-to-Market Entrepreneurship in the Hankamer School of Business. Qualifying for the Baylor Academic Challenge, the Maness Chair is part of a fundraising effort among business alumni to honor Dean Maness on his upcoming retirement, while providing endowment support for Baylor’s Lab-to-Market (L2M) program for translating research into viable commercial and business concepts. As a young faculty member, I personally benefited from Dean Maness’s mentorship and guidance when he entrusted me with my first administrative opportunity, and I – and many business alumni – will continue to be deeply grateful for his legacy.
- Baylor’s transformative undergraduate education is once again on display with the recent Top-10 ranking of our entrepreneurship program by The Princeton Review & Entrepreneur Magazine. Baylor’s undergraduate program is ranked No. 7 nationally and recognized for its faculty, course offerings and the availability of key student resources. Sic ’em, Baylor Entrepreneurs!
- On a personal note of thanks to our faculty: You have done remarkable work with our students – adapting to new teaching methods, supporting students in this unprecedented journey and showing great care for those who cannot return home for the holidays. Earlier this year, you responded to the COACHE faculty job satisfaction survey in honest and meaningful ways. Your input gives us a great start for significant conversations about improving faculty experiences. While we originally planned to begin our conversations about areas for development late this fall, we recognize that your plates are full and we will start fresh in the new year with these important conversations. Provost Brickhouse and I are grateful for you and are praying for you as together we press on to the end of the semester.
- This year marks the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, and as we think about his lasting musical contributions, one of our own professors is expanding the ways we understand the impact of deafness on his work. Robin Wallace, Ph.D., professor of musicology in the Baylor School of Music, is a leading Beethoven scholar with unique insight into the challenges Beethoven might have faced. Dr. Wallace’s late wife, Barbara, dealt with sudden hearing loss around the time they moved to Baylor in 2003, and their journey together impacted his own understanding of the composer he studied. He shares that personal story on this week’s Baylor Connections. The show airs Friday morning at 11 a.m. on KWBU-FM and will be available on iTunes.
- Our 500+ student-athletes give us plenty to celebrate during competitions in their respective sports, but today we want to make a point to recognize a remarkable achievement in the classroom with the announcement of a 94% Graduation Success Rate (GSR), an NCAA rating that monitors academic performance of student-athletes. Baylor’s school-record overall score led the Big 12 for the seventh straight year, finished 10th nationally among all Power Five schools and led the state of Texas. Some of the impressive sport-specific achievements include baseball, men’s golf, women’s golf, women’s tennis, soccer and volleyball all achieving 100% GSR. Additionally, football notched a 91% GSR, a program-best over the past 16 years, tops of the Big 12 and tied for seventh nationally among Power Five schools, while men’s cross-country/track and field earned a program-record 91% GSR, leading the Big 12.
- Our community continues to rally around those most in need. As we wrap up our annual United Way campaign this Friday, Nov. 20, I encourage you to consider what you can do to support this important cause. The United Way Campaign is truly a citywide effort as dozens of organizations raise more than a million dollars annually to directly support nonprofits who serve those in need. Please join us this year by visiting www.baylor.edu/hr/unitedway.
With Thanksgiving next Thursday, I will not pen a Presidential Perspectives next week. May grace and peace be upon you during this holiday season.
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.