Presidential Perspective - March 25, 2021

March 25, 2021

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

I hope you have had the opportunity to review and reflect on the Report of the Commission on Historic Campus Representations that was shared with the Baylor Family on Tuesday. We are truly grateful for the thoughtful, prayerful and thorough work of the Commission, whose 26 members faithfully considered and embraced Baylor’s Christian mission and an “additive approach” as they discerned recommendations about how best to communicate and reflect the complete history of Baylor University. I also express my deepest gratitude to our six remarkable student members of the Commission, whose voices were vital to the process. On Tuesday evening, these students shared a video with the student body describing their experiences on the Commission and the value other members placed on the student perspective.

In conjunction with the report, we announced plans to prominently recognize Baylor’s first Black graduates, Rev. Robert Gilbert, B.A. ’67, and Mrs. Barbara Walker, B.A. ’67, with statues in front of Tidwell Bible Building. These statues not only will commemorate their place in Baylor’s history, but also recognize their lasting impact on who we are today and in the future as an institution of higher learning. The sculpture of Mrs. Walker also is significant in that it will be the first full statue of a woman on our campus. We expect to review proposals from potential sculptors over the summer and select a final sculptor in early fall.

There is much work to be done as we take measures to address all historical aspects of the Baylor story and celebrate the value of all members of the Baylor Family in fulfillment of our Christian mission. You can find the full report on the website, which was launched to collect and present the Commission’s work, including the process, timeline, charge and much more. We will keep you informed as we begin evaluating recommendations for potential implementation.

Some updates for the week:

  • As we prepare our hearts and minds for Easter and the hope we have in our Risen Savior Jesus Christ, our Chapel Prayer team will lead in-person, socially distanced Lenten Prayers at 12:15 p.m. Friday at Burleson Quadrangle. This short service will include prayers from the Psalms, moments of confession and intercession, as well as readings from different Christian traditions. We also will remember our Asian, Asian-American and Pacific Islander sisters and brothers at a time when they face violence and persecution and offer prayers for peace and reconciliation among all God’s children.
  • I certainly celebrated the announcement from state health officials that beginning Monday, March 29, everyone age 16 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Texas. This is such an important step toward what we all want and are actively planning for: a return to “normal” campus operations in the fall. Baylor Health Services is currently working through its waitlist for vaccination appointments, but they do have plans to open up soon to all students, faculty and staff. Watch for an announcement about future vaccination clinics and how you can make an appointment. In the meantime, I encourage you to check with your primary healthcare provider if you have any questions about receiving the vaccine.
  • If you’ve been fully vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine but haven’t submitted that information to Health Services to be exempted from weekly testing, please take a moment to fill out this single form and upload a photo of your completed vaccination card. Together, by getting vaccinated – and continuing to wear a facemask and maintain your distance, especially indoors – we will #SicCOVID!
  • One of our cherished academic events is underway this week. The annual Beall Poetry Festival, hosted by the Department of English, is a celebration of some of the finest contemporary poets and includes readings from Layli Long Soldier, Evie Shockley and Forrest Gander and a lecture on contemporary poetry by noted poet and critic Meghan O’Rourke. All events are online, free and open to everyone. I especially encourage our students to participate in the evening poetry readings that showcase the work of these notable artists and qualify for Creative Arts Experience credit.
  • Don't forget that Baylor’s Free Farmers Market is happening today until 4 p.m. in the Fountain Mall area across from Moody Library. I love this student event, which is offered each fall and spring as a way to combine healthy food distribution with efforts to raise awareness about hunger, nutrition and wellness among our students. Boxes filled with a variety of fresh produce are available to students at no cost.
  • This is a very sweet time of year for both of our basketball teams! Coach Scott Drew and the No. 1 seeded Bears have advanced to the Sweet 16 for the 5th time in the last 12 years while Coach Kim Mulkey and the No. 2 seeded Lady Bears have moved on to their incredible 12th straight and 15th overall Sweet 16. A great Saturday of basketball is ahead for Baylor fans AND hoops fans everywhere with two national broadcasts, beginning with the Lady Bears and Michigan at 2 p.m. CT on ABC, followed by the Bears and Villanova at 4:15 p.m. CT on CBS.

I can’t believe we are only five weeks away from the end of the semester. We are nearly there!

Sic ’em!

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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