Presidential Perspective - May 13, 2021

May 13, 2021

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

It took me a few days, but I finally recovered from six Commencement ceremonies over three days as we recognized the Classes of 2020 and 2021 last week at McLane Stadium. Our 3,649 graduates and their families and friends avoided the rain, but we did have hot temperatures, blistering sun and even strong winds on Saturday. That may explain the 11,188 bottles of water and 175 bags of ice consumed down on the McLane turf!

May’s Commencement – after an 18-month hiatus – was just another example of the significant progress we’ve made in “opening campus” further as COVID-19 conditions continue to improve. Again, we are preparing a return to normal campus operations this fall.

Some updates for the week:

  • For the summer, we’ve announced new COVID-19 guidance for campus, which includes no capacity limitations for outdoor activities, optional face coverings outdoors and the ability to meet indoors in small groups without masks or distancing for fully vaccinated individuals. In addition, Baylor employees who are fully vaccinated can now travel domestically for university business purposes.
  • We continue to look for ways to provide convenient vaccination opportunities for our campus community. While vaccine appointments are available at the Baylor Health Center, they also will offer another option with a Family Vaccine Clinic on Saturday, May 22, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. in the McLane SLC gym. The clinic will offer the Pfizer vaccine and will be open to faculty, staff and students, as well as spouses and dependents 12 years or older. Please watch your email for more details in the coming days.
  • Baylor’s Board of Regents began meeting yesterday and will continue through tomorrow for its regularly scheduled quarterly meeting. As customary, we will provide a summary of the Board’s actions following the meeting. The agenda is posted publicly on the Board’s website.
  • I'm excited to share some great news about the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat – home of our beloved American black bears Judge Joy and Judge Lady – which has achieved the gold standard of accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Baylor becomes the first university – in the world – to earn this designation, joining more than 240 of the most respected and reputable zoos and aquariums. Of course, this would not be possible without our dedicated student caregivers within the Baylor Chamber of Commerce, trained professionals and a veterinary care team, who take such extraordinary care of Joy and Lady.
  • It was an honor this week to present Bob Darden, professor of journalism, public relations and new media, Master Teacher and founder of Baylor’s Black Gospel Music Restoration Project, with another award for his dedication to the teaching profession, this time as a Piper Professor of 2021 by the Minnie Stevens Piper Foundation. Only 10 professors across Texas each year are honored as Piper Professors for outstanding teaching as well as their academic, scientific and scholarly achievement. Congratulations, Professor Darden!
One final Commencement note: Congratulations to the seven basketball, track & field and Acrobatics & Tumbling national champions who walked across the stage at McLane Stadium last week: Moon Ursin and Trinity Oliver (2019), Jared Butler and Mark Vital (2021), Aaliyah Miller (2021) and Emily Hoppie and Jayla Simmons (2018, 2019, 2021). Baylor truly is a place where we Prepare Champions for Life.

Sic ’em, Bears!

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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