Presidential Perspective - February 11, 2021
Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:
As we shared via Baylor Alert earlier today, due to winter weather conditions, we closed our Waco campus at 2 p.m. through all-day tomorrow. Classes for the rest of today and tomorrow will shift to remote instruction. Please take every precaution and be safe as you travel around campus and home today.
We also ask that you continue to keep a close eye on the weather forecasts through Tuesday, with projected wind chills estimated in the single digits and the potential for more winter precipitation. As Provost Brickhouse has requested, faculty should prepare to teach online through Tuesday should weather conditions warrant. With a delayed start and early end to the spring semester due to COVID-19, we do not have any flexibility with the academic calendar in terms of canceling classes. Staff also should be prepared to telework, if possible, during this time. Be sure to monitor your Baylor email and social media accounts closely over the next few days for weather-related updates.
In addition to travel, this expected winter storm can pose real concerns for you, your pets and your homes. Check your outdoor faucets and consider wrapping them to protect against pipes freezing and allow an indoor faucet to drip to keep water moving. If you have pets or plants outside, bring them inside to keep them dry and warm from potentially dangerous or harmful exposure. We saw a few weeks ago how exciting a snow day in Texas can be. Even so, try to limit outdoor activities to short periods of times, especially with this fierce wind, and do what you can to stay off roads, particularly if there are icy driving conditions.
Some important information to share:
- With the bitter cold, I anticipate you will be spending most of your time indoors over the next few days. We have experienced a slight uptick recently in our COVID-19 numbers, and I have noticed more and more students not wearing facemasks, or wearing them below their noses. Please heighten your virus precaution measures during this critical time of the semester - keep testing weekly, wear a facemask covering your nose and mouth (especially indoors while around others), practice social distancing, sanitize hands, monitor your symptoms and stay at home if you feel ill.
- I am so grateful for the Baylor alumni, parents and friends who joined so quickly and enthusiastically in giving to help fund our new Trailblazer Scholars Program. Fundraising has surpassed $2 million since the program was created in July 2020, pairing with the University's commitment of $5 million to establish the program. Scholarship applications are open until Feb. 15, with our faculty and staff spending many hours thoughtfully planning and preparing for our first Trailblazer Scholars, who will be part of the inaugural cohort named after Baylor's first Black graduates - Rev. Robert Gilbert, BA '67, and Mrs. Barbara Walker, BA '67. We look forward to equipping and learning from these students who are our future leaders in such critically important conversations surrounding how we as a community foster diversity and how we as Christians practice mutual respect in conversations where we may not always agree.
- The contributions of Black composers of classical music are receiving increased attention and appreciation, thanks in no small measure to the efforts of a Baylor professor. Horace Maxile, Ph.D., associate professor of music theory, is one of the nation' top experts on Black composers of classical and concert music and, this week, Smithsonian Magazine features his insights in an article about further efforts to illuminate the music and the individuals who composed it. You may have seen Dr. Maxile in our national brand campaign highlighting high-level research at Baylor this year. We're thrilled to see the impact his work is having.
- From Matthew 18:20: "For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them." We have several upcoming opportunities to gather virtually for prayer, including a Women's World Day of Prayer session Friday at 10:15 a.m. via Zoom. Among the speakers are Elise Edwards, Ph.D. (religion), and Rebecca Poe Hays, Ph.D. (Truett Seminary). Also, with the Lenten season beginning next week, our Spiritual Life team will have a table outside the Bobo on Ash Wednesday (Feb. 17) from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., providing prayer guides and small crosses for everyone in remembrance of our frail human condition and God's great mercy. Spiritual Life also will hold midday prayer services on Zoom at noon each Friday of Lent, beginning Feb. 19.
- Speaking of gatherings, you may have seen the exciting announcement yesterday on Baylor social media that we will conclude the spring semester with in-person Commencement ceremonies May 6-8 at McLane Stadium. The Thursday, May 6, Commencement will be reserved for our 2020 graduates since we did not have any in-person ceremonies last year due to COVID-19. We will provide college and school breakdowns for the Friday and Saturday ceremonies for 2021 graduates in early March. The outdoor setting and size of McLane Stadium will provide ample COVID-19 protection measures for all participants and guests.
- Baylor's Office of External Affairs has launched the Solid Gold Neighbor Research Fellows Program, a community-based participatory research grant program that ties civic and nonprofit needs with academic research capabilities through master’s degree and doctoral students to advance social change within the Greater Waco community. Projects with five nonprofits have been selected by a committee of community members and faculty researchers, and each aligns with Illuminate, as well as with one or more of the five Solid Gold Neighbor areas of focus: Economic Development, Education, Health, Cultural Wealth and City Growth. All graduate students residing in Waco are eligible to apply for the fellows program by April 16.
Thank you for being part of the Baylor Family. Each of you brings God-given talents and gifts into our community of scholars, and I want you to know you are valued and appreciated.
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.