Presidential Perspective - September 30, 2021
Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:
Earlier today I had the opportunity to testify before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and Commerce of the Committee on Energy and Commerce in Washington, D.C., regarding many of the challenges facing intercollegiate athletics. These are certainly transformative, yet turbulent times for colleges and universities across the country. I am proud to say that here at Baylor, we prioritize our student-athletes as students first and foremost. You can read my submitted testimony or view a recording of this morning’s Congressional hearing.
Some updates for this week:
- On behalf of the Health Management Team and President’s Council, I appreciate the campus community’s adherence to Baylor’s COVID-19 protocols, particularly with low vaccination rates and strained healthcare resources in the Waco area. While Baylor remains in “good shape” and we are starting to see signs of improvement locally, we will continue with our current approach of facemasks in academic classrooms and labs and twice-weekly testing of unvaccinated individuals through Oct. 15 as we monitor any potential impact from Family Weekend activities. If conditions continue to improve and our projections hold true, we plan to transition to once-weekly testing of unvaccinated individuals post-Oct. 15. We anticipate facemasks in academic classrooms and labs will continue to be required through the end of the fall semester.
- We reached an exciting milestone today that is certainly worth celebrating – the successful completion of the transformational Baylor Academic Challenge. This dollar-for-dollar matching initiative generated significant support from alumni and donors to establish 14 new endowed faculty chairs across the University as we advance the aspirations of our Illuminate strategic plan. The BAC was established in 2019 as part of a historic $100 million gift to Baylor’s Give Light Campaign from an anonymous donor. Together with other generous support from the Baylor Family, we are ensuring that the University – and generations of students and faculty – will continue to flourish for all ages to come.
- Each year the Baylor Family rallies to support the greater Waco community nonprofits and citizens through the annual United Way Campaign. United Way depends upon local campaigns with partners such as Baylor to provide funds that directly benefit area nonprofits who serve critical needs within the community. As an anchor institution, a Solid Gold Neighbor and the largest employer in Waco, I would like to invite our Faculty and Staff to contribute to this campaign again. This year we have weekly prize opportunities for donors, such as Baylor gear, autographed basketballs and a chance to ride in the popular Baylor FJ Cruiser in the Homecoming Parade. To learn more and donate, visit www.baylor.edu/hr/unitedway.
- This week the Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching at Baylor’s Truett Seminary hosted the third annual African American Preaching Conference here on campus. Housed in our seminary and featuring nine pastor scholars from across the nation, this event offers a unique space for “Black preaching at the intersection of the academy and ministry.” Commencing with the resounding hymn, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the conference included powerful sermons and lectures, breakout sessions led by Truett faculty and a special luncheon honoring renowned pastors Rev. Dr. James Alfred Smith Sr. of California and Rev. Dr. Margaret Elaine McCollins Flake of New York. I am grateful that we had the opportunity to welcome more than 200 ministers, leaders and laypeople to Baylor for this momentous event.
- During October, we will welcome the three finalists for Baylor’s 2022 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching for a series of lectures on our campus. The Cherry Award is the only national teaching award presented by a college or university to an individual for exceptional teaching, which is a hallmark of a Baylor education. I hope you will take the opportunity to hear these extraordinary teachers from the University of Southern California, North Carolina State University and Purdue University. The recipient of the Cherry Award will be announced in the spring 2022 and then will teach in residence at Baylor during fall 2022 or spring 2023.
- As members of a Christian university, it’s important for us to continually seek ways to love and serve others in our local, state, national and global communities. This past week, Baylor Missions hosted a number of events as part of Missions Week, which is supported by the Lynn A. and Jacqueline S. Harmon Endowment. It was wonderful to see our Baylor Missions staff and global and community organizations engage with our students about opportunities to actively serve, nurture their faith and love their neighbor. I encourage you to learn more about the many opportunities and experiences offered by Baylor Missions and how you can serve in Waco and around the world.
- For our Faculty and Staff: Baylor Athletics has a special offer of appreciation for you to attend next Saturday’s home football matchup with West Virginia. With the code CHAMPIONS, you can buy $10 stadium tickets or $5 berm tickets.
I am looking forward to being back in Waco and on campus after a whirlwind trip to D.C.!
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.