Presidential Perspective - May 6, 2021

May 6, 2021
May 6 morning Commencement selfie

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

Congratulations to the 3,649 graduates of the Classes of 2020 and 2021 who are participating in Commencement ceremonies today through Saturday at McLane Stadium! The above photo is my view from the stage at the 9 a.m. ceremony earlier today. It was so exciting to once again see our Baylor graduates walk across the stage in their regalia for the first time since December 2019.

According to our historians, the last time we hosted an outdoor Baylor Commencement – that we know of – was May 27, 1955, in what was then called Baylor Stadium, which was later renamed Floyd Casey Stadium. At the time, the stadium was 5 years old. Obviously, that would make these – the first Baylor Commencement ceremonies we’ve hosted at McLane Stadium – a special opportunity for these two classes of graduates who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we close the semester, I sincerely thank all of you for your patience, dedication and cooperation as we’ve dealt with these unprecedented times. I am praying – and planning – for a bright future in the weeks and months ahead.

Some updates for the week:

  • As we continue to strongly encourage you to get a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible, we have added a feature showing our progress on our public dashboard. Vaccination of our campus community is tied directly to our plans for a normal fall. For more information about making appointments now and throughout the summer at the Baylor Health Center and how to confirm your vaccination if you get vaccinated while away from campus, visit our COVID-19 vaccine webpage – Also, we understand you may have questions or concerns about the vaccines. We encourage you to call your healthcare provider or Baylor Health Services at 254-710-1010 so they may address your questions.
  • In the days ahead, we will share more details about COVID-19 testing over the summer months, including testing hours and locations. You will still be exempt from testing if you have been fully vaccinated or are within 90 days of a positive test.
  • Our faculty certainly rose to the occasion over a challenging academic year, ensuring that our commitment to educational excellence, leadership, research, creative endeavors and our Christian values remained constant. A special congratulations to this year’s faculty awards recipients:
    • Centennial Professor Award: Michael-John DePalma, Ph.D., English, and Lesley McAllister, D.M.A., Piano Pedagogy.
    • Collins Outstanding Professor: Paul Zinke, Ph.D., Chemistry.
    • Cornelia Marschall Smith Professor of the Year: Mia Moody-Ramirez, Ph.D., Journalism, Public Relations & New Media.
    • Outstanding Faculty: Teaching (tenured): Keith Schubert, Ph.D., Engineering; Mark Long, Ph.D., Honors; and Julie Anne Sweet, Ph.D., Humanities. Teaching (tenure-track): Lakia Scott, Ph.D., Education. Teaching (non-tenure track): Elon Terrell, Ph.D., Engineering; Laila Sanguras, Ph.D., Education; and Yuko Prefume, Ed.D., Humanities. Scholarship (tenured): Stephen McClain, Ph.D., Engineering; Robert Miner, Ph.D., Honors; and Daniel Romo, Ph.D., Sciences. Scholarship (tenure-track): Stephanie Gerow, Ph.D., Education. Significant Contributions to the Academic Community: Randall Bradley, D.M.A., Music.
  • May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. While we will formally celebrate our AAPI family in the fall when students are back on campus, I want to recognize and offer support for our Asian American and Pacific Islander brothers and sisters. In light of the recent increases in violence nationwide against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders as well as news of the devastating toll of COVID-19 in India, I encourage the Baylor Family to offer care, support and prayers of peace and healing during this time. We look forward to announcing plans for recognizing our AAPI students at fall events such as the Autumn Moon Festival, AsianFest, Asian Heritage Banquet and more.

  • A special Baylor welcome is in order to new women’s basketball coach Nicki Collen, who takes over the Lady Bears after coaching the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream. We are excited to have Coach Collen and her family in Waco as we further our commitment to Preparing Champions for Life.

I can’t believe summer – according to the academic calendar – has arrived. Wherever you are in the months ahead, please be safe, continue in God’s Word and fling your green and gold afar.

Sic ’em, Bears!

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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