Presidential Perspective - November 4, 2021

November 4, 2021

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

This week marks the quarterly meeting for Baylor’s Board of Regents as it considers the next five years of our strategic plan Illuminate, which impacts the entire campus from academics to athletics. Other items under consideration by the Regents can be found in the agenda posted online. Please lift these volunteer, selfless servants in prayer as they fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities for Baylor and uphold our distinct Christian mission. We’ll provide a summary from the Board meeting for you Friday afternoon.

Some updates for this week:

  • We were elated last week to announce the Global Flourishing Study, the largest funded research project in Baylor history and the largest initiative of its kind to investigate the determinants of human flourishing. Byron Johnson, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of the Social Sciences and director of Baylor’s Institute for Studies of Religion, will direct the five-year, $43.4 million study that will survey nearly a quarter-million individuals across 22 countries to investigate how societies flourish and to examine religion’s role in global flourishing. Data from this project will reshape the global conversation on what it means to flourish, and researchers from a variety of fields will build on what they learn for generations to come. Human flourishing, leadership and ethics is one of the five signature initiatives of Illuminate. You can learn more by watching last Friday’s launch event. This is a landmark project — we’re grateful to the many funders and we congratulate Dr. Johnson and research partners from Harvard University, Gallup and the Center for Open Science.
  • Seals, sea lions, walruses … and Baylor Bears! Our own Sarah Kienle, Ph.D., assistant professor of biology, recently published a study on pinnipeds — a group that includes seals, sea lions and walruses — comparing their craniofacial musculature and what role it plays in aquatic feeding. Baylor is proud to now have the foremost expert on the pinniped craniofacial musculoskeletal system. Previously, very little reference material for pinniped anatomy existed. Dr. Kienle’s research, published in the Journal of Anatomy, provides a new foundation for pinniped and marine mammal anatomy research.
  • As Baylor continues its focus on growing research, four faculty members from disciplines across the University will gather as a panel on Thursday, Nov. 11, to discuss and describe the Nobel Prize given out in their respective fields. Panelists include Dwayne Simmons, Ph.D., Cornelia Marschall Smith Endowed Professor and chair of the Department of Biology (Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine); Scott Cunningham, Ph.D., professor of economics (Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel); Lorin Matthews, Ph.D., professor and chair of the Department of Physics (Nobel Prize in Physics); and Daniel Romo, Ph.D., Schotts Professor of Chemistry (Nobel Prize in Chemistry). The panel discussion, which is open to the Baylor Family, will be from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in the Paul L. Foster Campus for Business and Innovation’s McClinton Hall, Room 240.
  • I’ll start with the good news – We are nearing the homestretch of I-35 construction, and I know we all will rejoice when it’s complete in spring 2023. But for the remainder of the semester, we need to be ready for some additional road closures as crews realign 4th and 5th Streets to traditional T-intersections on the campus side of I-35. In the coming weeks, crews plan to close 4th Street where it crosses under I-35 until early 2022 to continue this work. TxDOT plans to have the north-to-south U-turn open at 5th Street to assist with traffic flow, and the pedestrian path at 5th Street is expected to remain open. Keep an eye on your Baylor email for additional announcements, plan ahead and use to check real-time traffic and pedestrian crossing information.
  • As we begin thinking about Thanksgiving, I want to bring attention that the month of November is acknowledged as Native American Heritage Month. Designated in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush, the month recognizes the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the United States. You may not know that the City of Waco was founded in 1849 by the Huaco Indians who lived on the land in the present-day downtown area. As a University community, we are working to understand the area’s history, and hope to share more in the future.
  • Our 10th-ranked volleyball team hosts No. 1 Texas in a Big 12 showdown tomorrow and Saturday, and we need the Ferrell Center filled with Baylor Bears! First serve for Friday’s match is set for 8 p.m., and be sure to wear white for the national ESPNU broadcast. Then on Saturday at 6 p.m., it’s Faith & Family Night. For both matches, there’s a Slam Banner giveaway, and the first 200 fans will receive “Beat Texas” buttons.

As always, Fridays are for wearing green and gold and visibly supporting Baylor!


Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.


Photo of the Week - 4Nov21

Are they Waco traffic cones or Halloween candy corn? Baylor students had a fun time dressing in costume for last Saturday's football game against Texas, won by our Bears 31-24.