Presidential Perspective - September 2, 2021

September 2, 2021

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

I know the events of the past week — from the U.S. military’s departure from Afghanistan abroad to the devastation and hardships created by Hurricane Ida closer to home — have left many members of the Baylor Family feeling deep pain and heartache. Amid such destruction and seeming chaos, it is possible to lose sight of the human capacity for kindness and of the goodness of God. I encourage you to continue offering prayers of healing and seeking opportunities to help one another through acts of compassion. Check in on your fellow students and friends serving on our faculty and staff to learn if you can be a source of hope and comfort. Remember that we worship a God who binds us into one body and who offers a peace which surpasses all understanding: “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.” (2 Thessalonians 3:16)

A few updates for this week:

  • Obviously, there’s a lot going on across the University and much to celebrate as we begin a new academic year. It’s great to share in that excitement with the Baylor Family, whether through email or on our Baylor Connections podcast. I appear as a guest on this week’s program to share my thoughts on a variety of academic and student life topics, including our record incoming class, the campus coming to life as student groups and organizations kick off a new semester, our R1 research momentum from the past year, the success of our COVID-19 efforts, and more. On the Athletics side, we celebrate Baylor Volleyball’s top-10 start and the kickoff of our soccer and football seasons, as well as discuss the ongoing conference realignment developments. You can hear the program tomorrow at 11 a.m. on KWBU-FM or download the show on iTunes or via the link above.
  • Several studies indicate that there’s a higher incidence of sexual assault on college campuses from the start of the fall semester until Thanksgiving. I want to reinforce that Baylor takes the prevention of and response to incidents of sexual and interpersonal misconduct within our campus community very seriously. Our Equity, Civil Rights, and Title IX Office has many resources available for anyone needing care and support. I encourage students, faculty and staff to review the Title IX policy and be aware of reporting options should you or someone you know experience sexual or interpersonal misconduct. While we may never be able to completely eradicate sexual violence within our society, I remain confident in Baylor’s ability to Set the Standard through a safe and caring campus community.
  • Last week I shared some sobering statistics about the prevalence of COVID-19 in the Greater Waco area. Unfortunately, the situation has not improved, as yesterday the local public health district reported a record 501 positive cases in one day. We continue to not have any evidence that the Baylor community is putting additional stress on struggling local healthcare resources, thanks primarily to your selfless service in getting vaccinated against the virus, completing twice-weekly testing if required and wearing facemasks in our academic classrooms and labs. As of yesterday, Baylor had an overall vaccination rate of 73%, including 70% for students, 89% for faculty and 81% for staff. Our testing positivity rate also continues to remain low at 1.26% over the past seven days. I appreciate – and our healthcare workers are grateful for – the adherence to these health and safety measures on our campus, which together help ensure we can offer the full Baylor experience. Great job, Bears!
  • As mentioned in Wednesday’s Baylor News Digest, we will host a special ceremony next Friday, Sept. 10, at 9 a.m. on the steps of Pat Neff Hall as we remember the 20th anniversary of the tragic 9/11 terrorist attacks. We will honor local emergency responders, military personnel and others, as well as join in prayer and song for our country.

A couple of other calendar items: Tomorrow is College Colors Day in which Baylor will join universities across the country in promoting their school colors and officially ushering in the kickoff of football season. I hope you will join me in flinging your green and gold not only for College Colors Day, but each and every week for Baylor Spirit Fridays throughout the semester. In addition, as we head into Labor Day Weekend, students are invited to check out all of the great activities and discounts around Wacotown as part of Staycation Weekend 2021.

Sic ’em, Bears!

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.

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