Presidential Perspective - April 22, 2021

April 22, 2021

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

This week we have collectively witnessed a pivotal moment in history and a critically important step in our nation’s journey to acknowledge and address racism by taking active steps to protect the rights of every person. The Chauvin verdict cannot be seen as an end, but as a beginning. Permanent relief from the pain so many feel will not come quickly, as there is much more work to do in the fight for racial justice.

As a university community, we must take this moment to recommit ourselves to the work we are doing to reconcile our history with racism and acknowledge and right the injustices many of our students, faculty and staff of color continue to experience. We must each renew our commitment to love our neighbors and to stand against injustice. We must continue to listen and learn from one another and to be proactive participants in positive change.

The murder of George Floyd and the senseless deaths of other Black Americans have taken a tremendous emotional toll on our students, faculty and staff of color and ought to impact all of us deeply as we are bound together in Christ. To the Black members of our Baylor Family, when you suffer, we all suffer. And we stand with you as together we continue to pursue healing and equity. We will foster respectful conversations that open our eyes to prejudices and build a strong sense of community on our campus and throughout the Baylor Family.

In this historic moment, we have a distinct opportunity as a Christian university to illustrate God’s love and His calling in our lives. Micah 6:8 provides a roadmap for our work: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

Some updates for the week:

  • We’ve received many questions over the past week about what the fall semester will entail in terms of COVID-19 protocols. While our planning process continues, I can confirm that the University will not require a COVID-19 vaccination for students, faculty and staff for the fall semester. However, our medical team strongly encourages everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible. In fact, the American College Health Association urges college students to schedule their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible and not to delay until reaching their summer destination. The extent to which we can provide a full, normal fall experience is directly dependent on the continued vaccination of our campus community over the next few months. Look for more fall-related updates in the weeks ahead.
  • We’re hitting the homestretch of the spring semester with only one full week of classes left. In looking at our dashboard, our number of active COVID-19 cases remains relatively low, which is great news in that fewer students are impacted by COVID right now compared to just a few weeks ago. Please finish the semester strong by attending and actively engaging in all of your classes. We are nearly to the finish line.
  • As we near the end of the semester, it’s important for students – especially those graduating – to have a career plan in mind. The Baylor Career Center has Career Success Professionals ready to support any and all students through the process of navigating the job market. The Career Center recently reported that spring 2020 graduates were able to find job placements at an even higher rate than spring 2019 despite COVID-19 hurdles. I encourage you to utilize the resources at your disposal through the Career Center by making an appointment today.
  • Last week I had the honor of congratulating 10 recipients of our 2020 Staff Awards, a recognition program led by Staff Council and the Baylor Black Faculty & Staff Association, at a virtual webinar that also highlighted ways to improve our wellbeing. If you were unable to attend the webinar, you can find out here which of your colleagues won awards. Please join me in congratulating these outstanding and distinguished members of our Baylor Family for going above and beyond in their service to the University.
  • Yesterday at the State Capitol, our own James A. Curry, Ph.D., professor of political science and The Bob Bullock Professor of Public Policy and Administration, was recognized by the Texas Legislature for 47 years of service to Baylor and his dedication to students as director of the Bob Bullock Scholars Program. It was a special day as Rep. Jeff Leach, B.A. ’05, and Sen. Brian Birdwell presented resolutions to Dr. Curry on the floors of the Texas House and Senate, respectively. We also were proud to see that the Senate resolution was signed by senators who are Baylor Alumni and that it noted the 10 Baylor students serving as Bullock Scholars, who continue Dr. Curry’s legacy of providing students with opportunities to impact others through a career in public service.
  • One of Baylor’s special traditions, Steppin’ Out Day of Service, made a big impact on our local community, and I want to thank the students, faculty and staff who volunteered their time, talent and treasure on April 10 to make it such a special day. Our students were able to “step out” together in small in-person groups, contributing more than 850 hours of service on a single Saturday by cleaning up around local schools, parks and neighborhoods. In addition, students donated 428 pounds of food and $2,037 to Shepherd’s Heart Food Pantry that will feed 413 local families and found other creative ways to serve virtually and give back to our neighbors. Such a beautiful expression of our mission of leadership and service!

I hope to see everyone at McLane Stadium this Saturday at noon for the Green & Gold Game. I understand there will be special guest play callers, as well as some free Whataburger before the game. You better get in line before the First Gent!

Sic ’em, Bears!

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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