A Diverse and Dynamic Community of Faith
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
Baylor University places a priority on enhancing diversity and equity across our campus and throughout our academic and operational divisions. In fact, we believe the diversity of our campus community is mission-centric in preparing students for worldwide leadership and service, ensuring people from different backgrounds actively contribute to university life, and being salt and light to the world as a Christian research university.
At Baylor, we welcome individuals from around the world to our campus just as Christ welcomes all into his arms, and the Baylor Family’s diversity lies as part of our mission to transform lives and serve others. This diversity comes in many forms, from race and gender to socio-economic status and physical ability. We are called to respect and learn from one another in a manner that reflects God’s love for every person.
One of the hallmarks of higher education is creating an environment in which individuals are presented with and educated through a marketplace of ideas, equipping them to determine their opinions and beliefs on issues and learn to express those convictions in informed and respectful ways. Baylor is committed to fostering an academic community that values the freedoms that create this marketplace of ideas and safeguards them, and to creating a social community in which civil discourse and mutual respect are expected and encouraged.
As we begin another academic year at Baylor with great excitement and bold aspirations, I encourage you to place an emphasis on three actions that lie at the core of our institutional values:
- Follow the commandment Jesus identified as being central to our lives as Christians: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself;”
- Practice respect and civil discourse with one another, in recognition that we each are a valued part of God’s creation; and
- Pray for each other, and for our nation, in a time of uncertainty and great divisiveness, focusing on how we can come together as the Baylor Family and as God’s children.
In the summer of 2020, Baylor created the Commission on Historic Campus Representations in connection with a resolution by the Board of the Regents that acknowledged the University’s historical connections to slavery and the Confederacy. In July of this year, the Board approved four initial proposals from the Campus Experience Task Force (the team I assembled to review the recommendations made by the Commission in its final report), to reflect the complete history of Baylor:
- Adding new historical findings from the Commission to the University’s existing history on baylor.edu/about.
- Placing interim signage at Founders Mall and Burleson Quadrangle that describes the University’s examination of its history.
- Using a historic Bible to lead the academic procession at Commencement and place the University Mace on permanent exhibit at Mayborn Museum.
- Reimagining Founders Day – February 1 – to become a more inclusive celebration of all who have contributed to Baylor’s growth and success throughout our 176 years.
We continue to research and evaluate other recommendations from the Commission report for consideration by the Board of Regents at future meetings as we proceed with efforts to tell Baylor’s complete history.
In addition, we have already begun the process of seeking artists and foundries to create life-sized bronze statues of the University’s first Black graduates – the Rev. Robert Gilbert, B.A. ’67, and Mrs. Barbara Walker, B.A. ’67. The statues will reside in front of Baylor’s historic Tidwell Bible Building.
Please monitor your email for the required diversity education video, which will be released in the weeks ahead. We celebrate everyone who has contributed to the Baylor story, and I am grateful for each person who has chosen to call Baylor home. Thank you for your love of our University and for the important part you are playing in renewing our Baylor community each and every day using the unique gifts and voice with which God has endowed you.
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.