Presidential Perspective - April 29, 2021

April 29, 2021

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

As we prepare for the last leg of the semester with final exams beginning tomorrow, I am reminded once again about what a remarkable journey we have been on this spring. It truly has been a marathon! Along with the challenges we have experienced, we have reaped the enduring rewards that come with facing adversity together and boldly pursuing opportunities for personal and institutional growth.

I would like to express my deepest appreciation for all you have done these past few months to allow us to successfully reach this much-desired finish line. Thank you for the positive spirit and the many steps you took — from weekly COVID-19 tests to following prevention and mitigation protocols — to enable our community to stay healthy and to stay together, in person, as members of the Baylor Family.

Looking toward the fall semester, we eagerly anticipate returning to what will feel like a normal college experience. And I can’t wait to celebrate our 2020 and 2021 graduates during SIX Commencement ceremonies next week at McLane Stadium!

Some updates for the week:

  • As a former college basketball student-athlete, I must admit that I am a little competitive. When I saw Baylor’s current vaccination rates at 43% for faculty and staff and 21% for students in yesterday’s Baylor News Digest – compared to another private university in Texas at 74% overall – I thought we can do much better. Although Baylor will not require a COVID-19 vaccination for the fall semester, we strongly encourage everyone to get vaccinated as soon as possible. Baylor Health Services has COVID-19 vaccination appointments available this week – including the one-shot option – and will continue to offer vaccines each week throughout the summer. And if you’ve already been vaccinated or have received a vaccination at home over the summer, please let us know. More information can be found here.
  • Baylor’s recent announcement that we are hiring five new endowed chairs represents an exciting step forward in Illuminate. Endowed faculty positions are prestigious opportunities for faculty looking to join Baylor, and especially attractive because they come with funding from the endowment associated with the position, which brings a guaranteed level of support for their research and teaching endeavors. These five openings will allow Baylor, as Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., says, to recruit faculty “at the peak of their game” as they address important global challenges that align with our strategic vision and one or more of Illuminate’s signature initiatives. We’re incredibly grateful to the Baylor Family for their generosity as we celebrate gifts through the Baylor Academic Challenge that help fund these positions and make this vision a reality.
  • Did you know more than 30 Baylor Bears are leading colleges and universities across the world? The list of higher education institutions led by Baylor Family members includes schools right here in Texas (like Dallas Baptist and East Texas Baptist), around the country (such as Furman, Seton Hall and South Florida) and even across the globe (the University of Cambodia). Our mission here at Baylor has long been “to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service;” these Bears are reproducing that goal in the next generation of students.
  • As we wind down the semester, it's also a time of great celebration among our academic community. Congratulations to our students and recent graduates who have received prestigious national and international scholarships to further their education:
    • Barry Scholarship: Katerina Levinson, BA ’17;
    • Boren Fellowship: Maria Torres, BA ’20;
    • Boren Scholarship: Amanda Sutton, senior, University Scholar/Russian, and Anne Walker, senior, economics/international studies;
    • Critical Language Scholarship: Daniel Burch, senior, political science; Mary Quarnstrom, senior, Business Fellows/Spanish; Sophia Fulton, senior, Business Fellows/economics; Rebekah Sharp, junior, University Scholar; Kaitlyn Vana, junior, mathematics/Slavic and East European studies, who also won a Project Global Officer Award; and Cannon Williams, BA ’20;
    • Fulbright Scholar: Carolyn Carper, senior, University Scholar; Madeleine Nelson, BA '20; and Joelle Kim, senior, Science Research Fellows;
    • Goldwater Scholarship: Kate Rojales, senior, chemistry, and Alexis Simmons, senior, physics/mathematics; and
    • Rotary Global Grant: Cassidy Parshall, senior, Business Fellows, finance; and Ana Villagran, BA ’18.

Please know you are in my prayers over the next week as you study and prepare for finals!

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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