Presidential Perspective - March 11, 2021
Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:
As a former college basketball student-athlete, March Madness is my favorite time of the year. And all of us who fling the green and gold afar should be extra excited this year as our Big 12 Champion men’s AND women’s basketball teams begin play in their respective conference tournaments. Looking ahead, both teams are projected as high seeds in next week’s NCAA Tournaments. Sending best wishes to Coach Scott Drew, Coach Kim Mulkey, their staffs and our student-athletes as they represent Baylor on the national stage in the days and weeks ahead!
Some updates for this week:
- As we continue our journey of understanding more about Baylor’s complete history in advance of the release of the report of the Commission on Historic Campus Representations, I strongly encourage you to review the first two “Perspectives on Our History” as part of the Baylor Conversation Series. Tuesday’s virtual event was outstanding as Ronald Angelo Johnson, Ph.D., The Ralph and Bessie Mae Lynn Chair of History, led a panel of distinguished experts in a discussion of slavery in Texas and among early Baptists. I hope you will join me for our final conversation this Tuesday, from 6:30-8 p.m., as we discuss Baylor’s early history specifically as it relates to slavery and the Confederacy and provide important context for the Commission’s upcoming recommendations.
- In the midst of these often stressful and difficult times for our students, cultivating a caring Christian community has remained a core tenet of our mission. This week Baylor Student Government’s Health Policy Committee has hosted an informative calendar of events to raise awareness of mental health illnesses and to fight the stigma surrounding mental health. I hope you’ll take the time to join the final two events. The “Talk About It Thursday” panel at 6 p.m. will feature an engaging discussion on mental health from campus experts and will highlight resources available to students. Friday’s “Community is Key” table event will be at Fountain Mall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., featuring additional resources, giveaways, prizes, treats and more. Find the Zoom link for Thursday’s panel on the Student Government Instagram: @bustugov.
- I was reminded this week, as we hit the one-year mark since the pandemic changed all of our lives, what a blessing it is to work for an institution that cares holistically for its faculty and staff. I am so thankful that Baylor is able to value our employees beyond more than compensation, but also through generous paid time off, health and medical benefits, financial planning, the Employee Assistance Program, on-campus advantages and more. The generous employee benefits at Baylor continue to provide care and support for each and every faculty and staff member even during the most trying of times.
- Today we are appreciative for a $1.5 million gift from the Prichard Family Foundation and Ella Wall Prichard, B.A. ’63, of Corpus Christi, that establishes The Lev H. Prichard III Chair in the Study of Black Worship. This endowed faculty position – which will receive matching funds through the Baylor Academic Challenge – will further the research and work of the nationally renowned Black Gospel Music Restoration Project while opening new areas of research into the history and cultural significance of Black worship and the church in America. As a Baptist university, we celebrate this opportunity to expand our study of this significant part of our Christian history and culture, and we are grateful to the Prichard family for their continued commitment to Baylor, to the preservation of Black Gospel music and supporting excellence in Christian higher education.
- Last year’s innovative Summer of Discovery program was well-received by students, parents and faculty, and we are thrilled to offer discounted summer course offerings again this summer for current students, incoming freshmen and transfers. Summer classes can help students catch up or get ahead on their degrees and open other opportunities to add a minor or certification, study abroad or accept internships. In addition, we have added a focused pre-college program called Accelerate for rising high school juniors and seniors. Courses for both programs are taught by Baylor faculty in the supportive Christian environment that is a hallmark of a Baylor education.
I don’t know if you are like me, but it’s been a challenge to get into a groove this semester. Then I looked at the calendar, and we have only seven weeks remaining until the last day of class. Hang in there – we’re almost to the finish line.
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.