Presidential Perspective - June 10, 2021
Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:
New beginnings! This summer has marked new beginnings on so many fronts as we emerge from COVID-19, and, as a university, move toward a normal fall semester. For more than 600 students and their families, this week marked an especially exciting beginning – the start of their journey to Baylor as part of our incoming freshman class. On Monday and Tuesday, we hosted the first two of 12 Orientation Sessions that will run through mid-July. Many of the students in attendance remained on campus for the first two Line Camp sessions that followed. As these students get to know one another and their new home at Baylor, they already are adding an energy and excitement to all that we are looking forward to in the new semester.
You may have noticed some new signage on campus welcoming our incoming students. Many of them are visiting the University in person for the very first time because of travel restrictions in place due to COVID-19! As you see new students and their families on campus, please greet them with a smile, help them navigate their way if they need assistance, and welcome them to Baylor. Sic ’em, #BU25!
Some additional information for this week:
- Summer Commencement will return to the Ferrell Center on Aug. 14. It was a bit warm during our six ceremonies last month at McLane Stadium, but we still had a wonderful celebration of the tremendous sacrifices and positive attitudes that allowed our 2020 and 2021 graduates – and now our summer graduates – to persevere to the finish line, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. An interesting note about summer commencement: We had to make a change to the ceremonies to accommodate our rising number of Ph.D. candidates, a clear reflection of our path to R1 recognition as a top Christian research university. I look forward to honoring degree candidates in our graduate programs during the morning ceremony, followed by all undergraduates in the afternoon. If you plan to participate, make sure you fill out the participation form on the Commencement website by July 14.
- As we continue planning for the fall semester, I am pleased to announce that all of our Baylor-related events will be at 100% capacity beginning Aug. 1, both indoors and outdoors. Our Institutional Events team is on standby to assist with event services for academic and administrative departments and to walk through the guidelines from our Health Management Team, as I anticipate there is a lot of pent-up demand for us to gather on campus as the Baylor Family. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information, or call 254-710-4105. Student organizations and students will continue to work through the Department of Student Activities.
- In 2005, a research team from the Department of Sociology and the Institute for Studies of Religion received funding from the John Templeton Foundation to conduct two national surveys of American religious beliefs, values and behaviors. Thus began the ongoing Baylor Religion Survey, the most comprehensive national survey studying religion in America. The latest findings from Wave 6 of the survey, distributed nationally by Gallup, focuses on how American religion relates to public health, the COVID-19 pandemic, growing wealth inequality and the hyper partisanship of contemporary American politics.
- Baylor faculty have continued the University's progress towards the goals of Illuminate in some exciting ways in the past year. We recently learned that Jameson Graber, Ph.D., assistant professor of mathematics, earned a prestigious CAREER award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to advance innovative research that applies game theory and partial differential equations to examine societal needs like economic growth and wealth distribution. Dr. Graber’s honor is an exciting milestone for his department –the first NSF CAREER award won by a member of the Department of Mathematics. These highly competitive awards come with substantial research funding and are an incredibly meaningful honor for early career faculty members. We're thrilled to celebrate Dr. Graber's success.
My favorite summer time Waco treat is stopping by Heritage Creamery for some strawberry ice cream, while the First Gent always goes for mint stracciatella. And then there’s always coconut tea from HTeaO – my ultimate fav!
Until next week,
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.