Presidential Perspective - February 4, 2021
Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:
As we all continue navigating what remains a difficult and stressful time for our country and Baylor University — amid the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing political and social justice tensions — I am reminded of the following passage in Hebrews: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together (even virtually, due to COVID-19), as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
We talk a lot on our campus about the Baylor Family, and it certainly is true that we share the bonds of love, concern and connection that typify an extended family. It also is true that, among our many members, the Baylor Family includes individuals whose beliefs, values and behaviors differ from one another — sometimes dramatically. And as with relatives, unfortunately, sometimes family members say or do things that cause great hurt or deep pain. These situations within our family cannot be ignored. They must be acknowledged, and we all must work together so they are not repeated or become institutionalized into the future.
As I have said before, our Baylor Family’s diversity is one of our strengths. In honoring and celebrating this diversity, however, we must also be prepared to work through our differences when frustrations run high. We are a family in good times and challenging times alike, as well as when we agree or disagree. We must continue, always, to deal with crises and disagreements with a unity of spirit and a shared commitment to our institutional mission that transcends differences of opinion. Let us follow the encouragement found in the Scriptures to remain together in conversation as we pursue understanding.
Some important information to share:
- As members of a caring, Christian community, one of our initial steps should be realizing that we each have a lot to learn about other people and other cultures. One student resource I would like to highlight is Baylor’s “Leave Your Mark” cultural humility training, which introduces concepts of personal identity, appreciation of differences and understanding of microaggressions. This voluntary training engages students in reflection and discussion for continued learning and builds the foundation for relationship building that supports a diverse and inclusive campus community. There are three training sessions scheduled for this spring.
- Keep an eye on Baylor’s social media platforms all month long as we continue our recognition of the many, significant contributions of the Black community within Baylor. We began earlier this week by honoring those who have helped Baylor move forward, with the recognition that many of these firsts came far later than they should have. As the month continues, we plan to share what students say Black History Month means to them, provide resources from Baylor professors for those who want to learn more about Black history and Black literature, share performances honoring Black history by Baylor students, and more. Thank you to those all across campus who are playing a part in helping us learn more.
- This week the University Libraries announced plans for a new home for the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project (BGMRP). The Black Gospel Archive and Listening Center presents an opportunity to celebrate and preserve the important cultural heritage of America’s Black gospel music in a physical location that complements the BGMRP’s digital database. The space, which will house albums from the project, also features a listening booth and space for small group meetings. I am eager to visit the new center in Moody Memorial Library when it opens later this semester.
- I know we are all ready for life to return to normal, including travel. However, due to the ongoing complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have extended our restrictions on all non-essential domestic travel for students, faculty and staff through the end of the spring semester on May 5, 2021. This aligns with continued restrictions this spring on all international travel. Please know that our Center for Global Engagement and Office of Global Safety and Security closely monitor travel risks both here and abroad and will provide updates as needed.
- Baylor is well-known for our long legacy for outstanding health and medical education. Many of our pre-health students are beginning to plan for their education beyond Baylor, and to assist them with that effort, our Pre-Health Professional Honor Society, Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED), will host the 48th annual Pre-Health Symposium via Zoom Feb. 15-20. This is a wonderful opportunity for our pre-health students to meet representatives from some of the nation’s top professional schools and receive feedback about what they are looking for in prospective students.
I enjoyed visiting with our faculty and staff through two online forums over the past week. Baylor’s continued strength and resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic can be directly attributed to the dedication and selfless service of these 3,000-strong members of the Baylor Family. I sincerely appreciate your trust and partnership as we navigate these unprecedented times not only for Baylor, but for all of higher education.
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.