Presidential Perspective - May 14, 2020

May 14, 2020

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

As we look to the fall semester and a resumption of our on-campus educational environment, our Project 8.24 team is working through many planning scenarios related to class sizes, methods of course delivery, instructional hours, residential life, dining, and on-campus events and experiences. These planning discussions are underway based on the best available information at this time with the understanding that we continue to be in a period of great uncertainty related to COVID-19. As the old adage goes, we are “planning for the worst and hoping for the best.” Please know we will certainly communicate with you as our plans become official decisions in the weeks and months ahead.

A reminder that we are not planning for a “normal start” of the fall semester, as I outlined to you a couple of weeks ago, given the lack of a treatment protocol or vaccine for COVID-19. The health and safety of our students, faculty, staff and guests must lead our decision-making regarding all University activities. In any scenario, we are committed to providing an outstanding educational experience with an unwavering commitment to our Christian mission and values.

Baylor’s Board of Regents will host its quarterly meeting tomorrow – virtually, of course – and the University’s response and plans related COVID-19 will be the primary topic of discussion. I truly appreciate the leadership and support of our Regents during this unprecedented period. As customary, we will share a full summary of the Board meeting with you tomorrow afternoon.

Some additional information to share with you this week ...

  • In the weeks ahead, we look forward to welcoming new Deans who bring impressive academic credentials to Baylor, reflecting our progress toward becoming a Tier 1/Research 1 university. Shanna Hagan-Burke, Ph.D., Professor of Special Education and Head of the Department of Educational Psychology at Texas A&M University, will join the School of Education as Dean on July 1. In addition to her strong commitment to both undergraduate and graduate teaching, Dr. Hagan-Burke’s research background includes more than $5.6 million in competitive external grants. On June 1, Jeffry Archer will begin as Dean of Libraries, bringing his extensive academic library experience to Baylor from two prestigious research institutions – McGill University and the University of Chicago. As announced earlier, Douglas Henry, Ph.D., transitioned from his interim role to Dean of the Honors College on May 1.
  • Twelve Baylor professors have been honored with Outstanding Faculty Awards, which recognize the best all-around professors for teaching capabilities, research achievement, time spent with students and service to their churches and communities during the 2019-20 academic year. In addition, the Senior Class has selected David Moseman, Ph.D., senior lecturer in religion, as the 2020 Collins Outstanding Professor. Congratulations to each of these exemplary faculty members for teaching, mentoring and nurturing our students.
  • During this time of financial challenge for many families, our Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty has stepped up in a big way, leading Meals-to-You, an innovative public-private partnership with the USDA, McLane Global and PepsiCo that provides meals for children in impoverished rural school districts closed due to COVID-19. The program’s initial goal was delivering 1 million shelf-stable, nutritious meals per week to the homes of rural children, but now has expanded to serve nearly 5 million meals per week. National media are paying attention, with ABC News on campus yesterday to interview Baylor Collaborative’s Jeremy Everett about serving our neighbors in need, from Alaska to Maine. The story is expected to air this evening on ABC World News Tonight.
  • I was so pleased to learn that Lilly Ettinger, assistant director of wellness who leads our Beauchamp Addiction Recovery Center (BARC), has been honored with the 2020 Collegiate Recovery Staff of the Year Award by the Association of Recovery in Higher Education. Even with online learning this spring, Ettinger and the BARC staff continue to provide recovery support remotely for Baylor students. If you need their services, reach out to Ettinger and the BARC staff at 254-710-7092, or
  • Baylor’s largest graduating cohort of McNair Scholars will continue their education this fall at prestigious graduate programs nationwide – including at Baylor. The McNair Scholars program prepares first-generation and other underrepresented students to navigate a successful path to a Ph.D. program, while paired with Baylor faculty mentors who help guide student research and encourage academic development. I look forward to following the academic careers of these accomplished and academically gifted scholars.
  • Baylor students from across the disciplines also capped off a record-setting 2019-20 academic year by receiving some of the most prestigious – and competitive – scholarships, fellowships and internships. From fall to spring, students and recent graduates have won four Fulbright awards, two Critical Language Scholarships, a Pickering Graduate Fellowship, Udall Foundation Native American Congressional Internship, two Goldwater Scholarships, a Marshall Scholarship, Charles B. Rangel Graduate Fellowship and Schwarzman Scholarship. These students also have been guided by dedicated faculty mentors, truly a hallmark of the Baylor experience.
  • A reminder for faculty and staff to review the comprehensive materials available as we begin a phased return to on-campus work beginning June 1. This process is informed by the latest guidance from local, state and federal government officials and public health authorities.

As I reflect back over the past two months and realize the dramatic shifts that have occurred on our campus, I am amazed at what we have all done together and will continue to do over the summer months in preparation for the fall semester. You give me great confidence in Baylor’s bright future.

Praying for you daily,

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.