Presidential Perspective - April 15, 2021
Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:
As the spring semester calendar winds down, I know our students are racing toward the academic finish line as they complete assignments, wrap up group projects and prepare for final exams. We understand this is a very stressful time for many students. You have been diligent about protecting our campus – completing weekly testing and following COVID-19 protective measures. In recognition, we are celebrating the spirit of Diadeloso a little bit every day next week. Each evening, we invite you to take a break and enjoy some of your favorite Dia activities – student performances, games, concerts, food trucks, exotic animals and a movie night. And don’t forget to head to McLane Stadium at noon next Saturday to support Coach Dave Aranda and our Baylor Bears in their Spring Game. You can find a complete schedule of the week’s events on the Diadeloso website.
Some updates for the week:
- Baylor Alumni Week is in full swing and our Advancement team has developed a robust schedule that connects alumni and friends with the University. Participants are enjoying topical content, “Lunch and Learn” updates with our Deans, reunions with classmates and much more. Among today’s features are a celebration of our Baylor Alumni Award recipients and reunions for the classes of 1995 and 2015. Tomorrow night, participants can join in a live virtual Trivia Night. It is not too late to register here and participate in the remaining activities.
- On the COVID front, the CDC and FDA recommended a pause this week on the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine while they review data on a rare complication. That put on hold our Health Services’ distribution of 1,000 allocated J&J doses, but please know that we continue to request the other vaccines authorized by the FDA for emergency use, Moderna and Pfizer, which studies have shown are safe and highly effective with no serious complications or side effects. Our goal is for as many students, faculty and staff to receive vaccinations as possible. In fact, through a community partnership with Providence Ascension, we were able to give 300 first doses and another 300 second doses of Pfizer this week. Through continued healthy habits and getting a vaccine, whenever and wherever you can, we can accelerate the return to normal just as quickly as we accelerated into the pandemic. You can find vaccination information, and assistance with finding a vaccine provider, at www.baylor.edu/vaccine.
- COVID-19 has brought about many research opportunities for Baylor faculty. The most recent is a study of workplace communication during the pandemic that found managers should talk less, listen more, show empathy and hold shorter, focused meetings — not only now, but when the COVID-19 crisis recedes. The national study was led by Marlene S. Neill, Ph.D., professor of journalism, public relations and new media.
- We have initiated nationwide searches for elite researchers to serve in five endowed faculty chair positions, each strategically created to address significant societal challenges and aligned with emerging areas of strength at the University in data sciences, materials science, biomedical engineering, molecular biology and health, and water and health. The expansion of endowed chairs represents a sustained step forward in Baylor’s research vision and is funded through the Baylor Academic Challenge, a dollar-for-dollar matching fund within the Give Light philanthropic campaign. These five endowed positions – with more on the way – are a critical component in support of Illuminate, our strategic plan as we advance toward Tier 1/Research 1 status.
- Speaking of the Baylor Academic Challenge, it is my honor today to announce The Eula Mae and John Baugh Chair in Physics, which was established through a $2.5 million estate gift from John and Eula Mae Baugh. This endowed chair also will receive Baylor Academic Challenge matching funds, expanding academic discovery and teaching in materials science. The Baugh family name is synonymous with support of and dedication to the Christian mission and vision of Baylor. John and Eula Mae were steadfastly dedicated to Baylor, and that commitment continued through their daughter, Babs, over her lifetime. We are grateful for the Baugh family’s continued commitment through Babs’s daughters and their families. Their philanthropy continues to shape our campus and our future.
I don’t know about you, but I love the continued celebrations of our men’s basketball national champions. Tuesday’s visit to the State Capitol was special, and the parade through downtown Waco was spectacular.
Sic ’em, Bears!
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.