Presidential Perspective - August 19, 2021
Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:
It’s finally here – the start of the fall semester! The First Gent and I enjoyed meeting so many of our incoming students and their families as part of Move2BU, although I must admit that my back is a little sore! This year’s freshman class is projected at more than 4,200 students, which exceeded our enrollment modeling in this uncertain time of COVID-19. Overall, our undergraduate enrollment will climb to around 15,000, while our graduate programs continue to grow, particularly in the online and professional space.
I am extremely appreciative of our faculty and staff, who have worked all through the summer to prepare for the arrival of our students and assist during this time of transition for so many. And, of course, I saw many of them sweating in the humidity over the past couple days while lugging suitcases, furniture and other items – which will somehow miraculously fit in residence hall rooms!
As I consider the mixed emotions of excitement and anxiety that so many of you are experiencing, I am reminded of a well-known prayer from Numbers 6:24-26 (ESV):
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.”
Some updates for this week:
- Since 2008, each incoming class has been welcomed to Baylor with its own unique hymn, each capturing an aspect of this moment of excitement, possibility and transition in a student’s life. This year’s hymn, “Deeper Down Deeper Still,” was written expressly for the Class of 2025, with lyrics by University Chaplain Burt Burleson (BA ’80), music by Kathy Gladen Johnson (BM ’76), and an arrangement by Assistant Director of Chapel Carlos Colón (MM ’93). The lyrics speak to the unique time of life in which our incoming freshmen find themselves, and the music video features snapshot images of the Baylor experience — moments for students to capture, embrace and celebrate.
- Provost Nancy Brickhouse and I were honored to join 50 of our newest faculty colleagues earlier this week at New Faculty Orientation. The two-day event, hosted by the Office of the Provost, introduces them to some of the essential features of faculty life at Baylor, from faith and learning, undergraduate teaching and research opportunities to student life, helpful resources and traditional Dr Pepper floats. They also received a special gift box with Baylor stickers, BU lapel pins and a green-and-gold Baylor shirt so they are ready for Spirit Fridays. We know this is a time of significant transition for our new faculty and their families, so on behalf of Baylor University, I welcome you to the preeminent Christian research university and to the Baylor Family.
- If you are new to Baylor, you might be a bit taken aback by the construction on I-35, but if you’ve been here a while, we are celebrating that this major reconstruction project is more than halfway done and on track for completion in 2023. Until then, we all need to be patient, alert and Know Before You Go at waco4bmap.org. In fact, we will need all three on Saturday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., as crews plan to close 4th Street where it crosses under I-35 to set beams on the new overpass. Traffic will be directed to use the northbound frontage road to cross under I-35 using University Parks Drive.
- If you have yet to receive your COVID-19 vaccine or confirm your vaccination status, it’s not too late! We will host several pop-up vaccination clinics across the campus over the next couple weeks. Everything you need to know can be found at www.baylor.edu/vaccine.
- We have an exciting update to the dining options within the Bill Daniel Student Center called “Revolve.” We will have many of your favorite local eateries rotating through the Revolve space in the first-floor lobby area every four weeks, and they will accept Dining Dollars. We’ll kick off the semester by hosting Oh My Juice! Also be on the lookout for regular visits by Waco’s favorite food trucks along 5th Street and Fountain Mall.
- A longtime area of Baylor research strength is in water quality, led by Bryan W. Brooks, Ph.D., our internationally recognized expert in this field. Dr. Brooks recently became a collaborative partner with the Global Estuaries Monitoring (GEM) Programme, an initiative endorsed by the United Nations. The 10-year project will collect and study environmental pollutants in the estuaries of major cities around the world to formulate a long-term policy of promoting clean estuaries, which is particularly important as the population grows in coastal areas. Brooks’ research reinforces Baylor’s contributions to solving significant issues across the globe and bolsters our focus on Health, specifically environmental determinants, one of the five signature academic initiatives of our Illuminate strategic plan.
- Please join me in welcoming Tiffany Hogue, J.D., to the President’s Office as my new chief of staff. Since 2016, Ms. Hogue has served as a clinical professor of higher education leadership and policy. Previously, among other Baylor appointments, she was the chief of staff to the provost from 2011-16 and assistant provost from 2003-11. I look forward to working with Ms. Hogue as we continue moving toward R1 status and recognition as the preeminent Christian research university.
I look forward to sharing some thoughts and updates with you every Thursday afternoon. Thank you for being a part of the Baylor Family.
Sic ’em, Bears,
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.