Presidential Perspective - November 9, 2017

November 9, 2017

Baylor Students, Faculty and Staff:

It is hard to believe we have turned the calendar to November and that Thanksgiving and the end of the semester are only weeks away. As I have walked across campus and visited with students, faculty and staff, I am reminded there is a certain level of stress that comes at this time of year. I am also reminded that in Matthew 11:28, God calls us to rest in Him: "Come to Me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." May you find rest in the days ahead in the arms of our Lord.

Here are a few noteworthy items for this week:

  • A reminder to our faculty and staff that we will host the inaugural Baylor Conversation Series today from 3:30-5 p.m. on the 5th floor of the Cashion Academic Center. Joining me to discuss the University's current state of affairs will be Chair of the Board Joel T. Allison and Interim Provost Michael K. McLendon. We hope you will join us for this important dialogue.
  • Earlier this week, we announced that an extensive review conducted by two of the nation's leading experts confirmed that all 105 Recommendations in response to past incidents of sexual violence within Baylor's campus community are complete and have been fully implemented. This news is significant, as it is the second external group within the past few weeks to verify our progress. More information, including the entire 755-page review, is available online.
  • I am excited to announce a gift of $2.5 million from Lynda and Robert Copple of Frisco to create the Lynda and Robert Copple Endowed Chair in Christian School Leadership within the School of Education. The gift will enable Baylor to attract a visionary Christian leader to lay the academic and intellectual foundations of the Center for Christian Education and establish the Center as the preeminent provider of professional development for leaders of Christian schools and for Christian leaders in non-sectarian school settings.
  • As we continue in our pursuit of becoming a Tier 1 research university that is unambiguously Christian, the Provost's Office has launched a strategic initiative to strengthen the University's infrastructure in support of research. Yesterday, Dr. McLendon announced new research-focused positions in the areas of pre- and post-award support, procurement and human resources. Future phases of our research infrastructure analysis will include a continued review of contract compliance support, technology solutions and a continued reduction of clerical and administrative burden on staff and researchers.
  • Our graduate students are an important part of the Baylor Family. Unfortunately, the proposed federal tax bill counts any tuition waivers received by graduate students as taxable income. Obviously, we are monitoring this situation closely and will work with the appropriate parties in Washington, D.C., to communicate our concerns. For those who wish to learn more about the potential implications of the proposed tax changes to colleges and universities, the American Council on Education has outlined concerns in a letter to the Ways and Means Committee.
  • Congratulations to our student-athletes who led the Big 12 Conference in Graduation Success Rate for the fourth-straight year and the eighth time overall, according to data released by the NCAA on Wednesday.
  • Last Saturday, First Gent Brad and I had the great privilege of joining more than 1,700 students taking part in Steppin' Out, a longtime Baylor tradition of community service that is organized and led by students. We rolled up our sleeves to work alongside students from the American Medical Student Association, Phi Kappa Chi, Baylor Wake and Alpha Kappa Alpha as part of Keep Waco Beautiful's Brazos River cleanup. I love how our students take ownership of this service opportunity that promotes experiential learning, civic leadership and social responsibility and enriches the bond between Baylor and the Waco community.
  • Finally, a good reason to wear green and gold this Spirit Friday – our Big 12 Champion women's soccer team hosts Rice in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at 5 p.m. at the Betty Lou Mays Field. There's also equestrian, men's and women's basketball, and fall baseball on Friday's schedule. I hope you can attend and support our teams.

Thank you for your continued work and dedication to Baylor.

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.