Presidential Perspective - January 28, 2021
Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:
It’s “birthday season” here on campus this week!
Yesterday, Joy – the elder of our two beloved American black bears – turned 20; her sister, Lady, will turn 19 on Sunday. It seems like only yesterday that they were brand new cubs; both ladies arrived at Baylor while I was teaching in the Hankamer School of Business. It’s hard to believe it’s already been 20 years! We’ll celebrate tomorrow from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. with a safe, socially distanced birthday party at the Bill & Eva Williams Bear Habitat.
Then on Monday, it’s the University’s turn to celebrate. Baylor, of course, was chartered on Feb. 1, 1845, by the Republic of Texas, which makes this our 176th birthday. Last year’s celebration of No. 175 didn’t go exactly as planned, thanks to COVID-19, but it will certainly go down as a historic time for the University as we persevered through the pandemic and preserved the institution for years to come. So Happy Birthday, Baylor!
As for other, non-birthday happenings around campus:
- A reminder to faculty: Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., and I will host the annual Spring Faculty Meeting this afternoon 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. Zoom log-in information was emailed to you yesterday afternoon. We look forward to visiting with you.
- And for staff, we will host a “Welcome Back” Staff meeting next Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 11 a.m. via Zoom. Watch your email for log-in details.
- I want to extend my appreciation to our students for the good start to weekly COVID-19 testing. Please keep it up! So far, Baylor’s spike in positive cases is much lower than what we experienced in the fall. During week 1 of the fall semester, our positivity rate was nearly 14%. Week 1 of this semester, our positivity rate is under 2%. This is encouraging news; however, we are still deep in the COVID-19 pandemic. To effectively control the virus on our campus and help keep us all healthy, safe and in-person, let’s keep our Family First by testing weekly and following all safety measures to prevent COVID-19.
- More than 100 senior-level nursing students and assigned faculty from our Louise Herrington School of Nursing (LHSON) have volunteered to help administer COVID-19 vaccines at the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District vaccination clinic beginning today and every Thursday through Feb. 18 at the Waco Convention Center. As LHSON Interim Dean Linda Plank says of our nursing students, “They have experienced the pandemic since March, and now they can help put the pandemic behind us. The public will love seeing the ‘sea of green scrubs’ come into the room and help those desiring the vaccine.” #SicCOVID, Baylor nurses!
- The need for civil discourse in our country – and even on our campus – may be greater than ever. Engaging in respectful dialogue has been a focus of Baylor for more than two years now. Our team with the Baylor in Washington program has put together a distinguished panel to discuss “Free Speech on Campus: Is It in Danger?” on Feb. 10 at 11 a.m. This is sure to be an important virtual conversation about the principles of free speech in a divisive age, particularly within a higher education environment. You can register here.
- Each year in February, our country gathers to celebrate Black History Month and the many important contributions of African Americans throughout history. Our Department of Multicultural Affairs and other groups across campus are working on various activities and recognitions, building upon the ongoing conversations that began earlier this month on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Be sure to monitor the Multicultural Affairs website and social media channels for more information to come.
- Please join me in celebrating a tremendous milestone – Baylor Law’s 100th year of Practice Court. Baylor Law’s Practice Court is a nationally recognized keystone experience for third-year law students. It’s tough. It’s demanding. It’s exhausting. It’s practical. It prepares our students to represent their clients with excellence, precision and the highest degree of professionalism. If you have 15 minutes, Baylor Law has posted a great video that tells the story.
- January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and we have many in the Baylor Family addressing this complex challenge. Two of them, a Baylor professor and alum, recently received a $250,000 National Science Foundation grant to help law enforcement agencies better utilize technology in the fight against human trafficking. Stacie Petter, Ph.D., The Ben H. Williams Professor of Information Systems and Business Analytics, and Laurie Giddens, MSIS ’02, Ph.D. ’17), bonded over their shared passion to serve people who are lost or forgotten when Giddens was a Baylor Ph.D. student. Giddens, now an assistant professor at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, remained in contact with Petter and they sought opportunities to use their discipline to address human trafficking, culminating in the NSF grant.
Now that the semester is in full swing, please know that you are in my prayers each and every day. May God bless and keep you!
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.