Presidential Perspective - December 3, 2020
Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:
We are so blessed at Baylor to join together in celebration of Christmas and this season of Advent as we look toward the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ and the promise of Christ’s glorious return. This Advent season has even deeper meaning as I prepare my heart each day by reading and praying over the daily devotionals created by our wonderful faculty, staff, alumni and students. This week’s devotionals focus on hope, as we explore our calling as Christians to share the power of hope both within our communities of faith and throughout the world.
In addition to Advent, Baylor observes many wonderful Christmas traditions, and to help you celebrate each one of them, we have launched the Christmas at Baylor website. You will find all of these events in one place, from tonight’s virtual Christmas on 5th Street celebration to the School of Music’s Countdown to Christmas, which features daily performances by our talented students leading up to the television premiere of last year’s “A Baylor Christmas” concert. We will share broadcast details with you soon.
A few updates to share with you this week …
- As we recognize the successful completion of on-campus instruction for the fall semester, we have turned our primary attention to the spring and the ongoing pandemic. Drawing from the lessons learned last semester, I want to inform you that we will continue our robust COVID-19 testing protocols during the spring semester. Consistent and frequent testing represents one of the best tools available to keep the Baylor community healthy, safe and on campus.
As with the fall, we will require a negative COVID-19 test from all students, faculty and staff before returning to campus for the start of the semester. The COVID-19 Health Management Team will provide additional information and instructions to students in the weeks ahead, including the process to order a test kit directly from our testing partner. Faculty and staff can expect communication from Human Resources with testing information. Please continue to monitor your Baylor email frequently over the holiday period for these important instructions. While I understand testing fatigue is a real issue, I will add that increased testing will open up the potential to host more in-person events and activities in the spring. I anticipate the idea of having more opportunities to connect and engage will motivate all of us to continue adhering to COVID-19 preventive measures. The multi-faceted “Swiss Cheese Model” was instrumental to our success in the fall, and I ask for your continued vigilance going forward.
- We’re excited to recognize Stephanie Boddie, Ph.D., and Lorin Matthews, Ph.D., on receiving this year’s Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Awards. Dr. Boddie of the Diana R. Garland School of Social Work and Dr. Matthews of the Department of Physics are both known for dynamic research and the inclusion of students in their work. Baylor Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement has their work cut out for them each year in selecting the award recipients, as we are blessed with faculty campus-wide who integrate teaching and research in ways that go far beyond lectures or reading assignments. As Baylor pursues Research 1/Tier 1 status, it’s not only faculty and grad students who play a meaningful role. Undergraduate students advance important research projects, which actively fosters growth in their disciplines and develops them as problem-solvers who address global challenges and seek understanding of God’s creation.
- This fall students in our “Philanthropy and the Public Good” course stewarded real funds to address pressing needs in Waco with the greatest impact. Their dedication to our local community and passion for service culminated in $90,000 in grants presented just before Thanksgiving to seven community organizations. Funding for the class was provided by the Baylor/Waco Foundation led by the Solid Gold Neighbor Ambassador Council, with additional funds provided by Aramark and our ongoing partnership with The Philanthropy Lab.
- Last Saturday Baylor honored our two Medal of Honor recipients – Col. John Riley Kane and 1st Lt. Jack Lummus Jr. – with the unveiling of two bronze statues on the grounds of McLane Stadium. We are grateful for the inspiration and gift by Haag (BBA ’88) and Millette Sherman to honor these Baylor heroes, who also were multi-sport student-athletes, and for the beautiful work of Dan Brook (BA ’83), a Native American artist based in Dallas. The likenesses stand as a reminder of the lives Kane and Lummus lived at Baylor, beyond the heroism they displayed during World War II and as a reminder of the rich tradition of bravery and military service among Baylor alumni.
My thoughts and prayers are with our students as you continue final exams, as well as with our faculty and staff as you close out this most unusual and challenging semester. May God bless and keep you during this holiday season.
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.