Presidential Perspective - January 21, 2021
Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:
It’s so wonderful to see our students out and about – even in the rain early this week – as they make their way across our beautiful campus to their classes. Our spirit is renewed as we delight in the promise of a new semester and look forward with great hope in our new beginnings.
Looking back at my notes from 2020, it was exactly one year ago today that the first COVID-19 case was reported in the United States. Three days later, Baylor formed our initial COVID-19 Task Force. While we continue to deal with the ongoing impacts of COVID-19, I am thankful that Baylor did and continues to take an aggressive, proactive approach in dealing with the virus for the health and safety of our entire campus community.
Students, as we begin our weekly testing, I want you to know how impressed and appreciative our testing staff with My Labs Direct is with the patience and kind attitude you have shown them. Hearing this makes me so proud of our Baylor students. Our weekly testing protocol is an important step toward providing you a more robust Baylor experience as the spring progresses, which is something we all want for you.
Some additional information to share:
- Thank you to the First Gent for the assist in announcing the prize winners from the fall semester COVID-19 student testing incentive program via social media today. Congratulations to Hannah C., from Double Oak, Texas, who received a $500 book credit; Diana H., from Rosenberg, Texas, who received a $3,500 housing reimbursement; and our grand prize winner – Cameron C., of Houston – who received a $5,000 scholarship. We truly appreciate our students’ participation in our COVID-19 testing program, and for this spring, we’ve upped the ante with a $1,500 bookstore credit, free housing or reimbursement for a semester and another $5,000 scholarship. Let’s #sicCOVID, Bears!
- Baylor’s commitment to keeping our campus safe, healthy and open and our aspirations as a Research 1/Tier 1 university both took a major step forward today with the opening of our own on-site COVID-19 testing lab and research facility in partnership with My Labs Direct, a top diagnostic lab that has provided a majority of our COVID-19 testing needs since the fall. This facility, located in the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC), is one of the largest testing labs of its kind owned by a university with no affiliated medical school. Not only will it extend our campus testing capability and that of the Greater Waco community, but the lab’s molecular PCR platform provides other robust and high-demand testing capabilities beyond COVID, which creates additional opportunities for faculty research and internships, practicums and business training programs for both undergraduate and graduate students.
- I am always moved by the traditions that reflect who we are as a country, such as yesterday’s Presidential Inauguration, where we celebrated a peaceful transfer of leadership. I am thankful we are “One Nation under God.” These moments offer us important reminders of Baylor’s role as a Christian institution to continue our commitment to engage in civil discourse. Leslie Hahner, Ph.D., professor of communication, and Luke Winslow, Ph.D., assistant professor of communication, shared insight on this topic with the Baylor Family in advance of the Inauguration events. Thomas Kidd, Ph.D., The James Vardaman Endowed Professor of History and associate director of the Institute for Studies of Religion, provided an equally compelling perspective on the role of Christian faith in politics and civic engagement. We are grateful that our faculty experts are willing to add their voices to important conversations.
- Baylor faculty truly love our students, and it warmed my heart to learn of the Faculty Senate’s campaign to raise money to assist food insecure students on our campus. Faculty Senate Chair Matt Cordon initially set a goal of $3,000 for the project, and that amount was raised within a day. Click here to learn more and see how you can contribute. Donations will go to The Store, a food pantry located in the Sid Richardson Building, which will distribute scholarships in the form of meal cards to students in need.
- Speaking of our outstanding faculty, I hope you will join Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., and me for the annual Spring Faculty Meeting next Thursday, Jan. 28, at 3 p.m. We will give a general “State of the University,” including an update on Baylor’s financial situation during the pandemic, and discuss the COACHE survey results and several other topics. You should have received an email invitation last Friday; Zoom log-in information will be provided to you the day before the event. We look forward to visiting with you.
Thank you for being part of the Baylor Family during this unique time in our University’s history!
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.