Presidential Perspective - June 24, 2021

June 24, 2021

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

As we have many visitors to Waco for Orientation, Line Camp and tours over the summer, I am reminded what a mess the “front door” to our campus is with the I-35 construction. Yes, Chip Gaines, “It’s Demo Day!” Thank you so much for your patience as this massive project has passed the halfway point for the betterment of our community. I do have some good news to share related to I-35 – the project is running ahead of schedule, and 8th Street has been reopened at the northbound frontage road near Common Grounds. Please remember to be extremely cautious and alert while driving and walking in the construction areas.

Some additional information for this week:

  • From the lack of essential medical supplies to empty toilet paper shelves to today’s shortage of semiconductors, we’ve all learned during COVID-19 how complex – and vulnerable – global supply chains are. To help managers effectively navigate the many risks and disruptions in our globally connected business environment, our nationally ranked Baylor Online MBA and Baylor Executive MBA programs in Dallas and Austin have added a new concentration this fall in Global Trade and Supply Chain Management. This very timely concentration will prepare students for the logistical, legal and geopolitical complexities of managing supply chains to ensure the efficient flow of goods and services – something none of us take for granted anymore.
  • New research from Baylor Business faculty Matthew J. Quade, Ph.D., Kaylee J. Hackney, Ph.D., and Dawn S. Carlson, Ph.D., has found that when an organization supports its employees who choose to adopt children, the positive benefits and outcomes are experienced by all involved – greater commitment to the organization, increased family functioning and reduced relationship tension for adoptive employees and their spouses, and indirectly a stronger attachment to the adoptive parents for the adopted child. Right before I joined Baylor in 2017, the University approved an adoption assistance program for full-time faculty and staff to help defray challenges associated with the adoption process and – as a reflection of our caring community beyond campus – affirm the choice by staff and faculty to grow their families through adoption. For this forward-thinking commitment, Baylor is one of only three universities recognized among the 100 Best Adoption-Friendly Workplaces by the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.
  • Baylor planetary physicist Peter James, Ph.D., was part of a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) that found Venus’ surface shows evidence of tectonic motion in the form of crustal blocks that jostle against one another. This movement, similar to pack ice, could indicate that Venus is still geologically active. It was previously assumed that Venus had an immobile solid outer shell. Dr. James’ contribution was to show that Venus’ mantle is primarily responsible for the driving force behind the block motion. The findings give insight into both exoplanet tectonics and the earliest tectonic activity on Earth. The research is especially timely because NASA recently announced that it will be sending two new spacecraft to Venus – VERITAS and DAVINCI+ – the first NASA missions launched to the planet since the 1980s.
  • Coming off one of the most successful overall athletics seasons in Baylor history, I have some more good news to share. Vice President and Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Mack B. Rhoades IV has been named Sports Business Journal’s 2021 Athletics Director of the Year. This marks the second Athletics Director of the Year honor earned by Rhoades in as many years. He was chosen as a 2019-20 NACDA Under Armour Athletics Director of the Year in March 2020. This year the Bears claimed two national championships and six Big 12 Conference titles. While we certainly celebrate the wins and championships, Rhoades and his team have truly embraced Baylor’s unique role in intercollegiate athletics as a Christian research university and our emphasis on intentionally preparing our student-athletes in all aspects of their lives.

I’m looking forward to celebrating July 4! We’ll touch base again next Thursday with an update on our plans for the fall semester.

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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