Presidential Perspective - December 1, 2022

December 1, 2022

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

As we wind down the fall semester, we also begin the Christmas season at Baylor. This is truly a special time on our campus that prepares our hearts in celebration of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Here are a few of the “can’t-miss” Baylor traditions around this most wonderful time of the year:

  • Annual Advent Service today at 3:30 p.m. and again at 5 p.m. at Seventh & James Baptist Church led by our Chapel Team and Spiritual Life, with special music by the St. Peter Catholic Student Center choir and an Advent message by Rev. Tish Harrison-Warren;

  • Tonight’s Christmas on 5th Street from 5 to 10 p.m., featuring holiday lights, a live Nativity, carriage rides, caroling, a snow zone, KOT Christmas Tree Lighting, Chris Renzema concert and so much more;

  • The first “A Baylor Christmas” concert tonight, kicking off a host of School of Music Christmas performances through the weekend and early next week; and

  • The annual Lift Up Your Hearts service of prayer and worship for faculty and staff next Thursday, Dec. 8, at 11 a.m. in Powell Chapel at Truett Seminary, followed by a complimentary luncheon in the Piper Great Hall.

It is such a blessing to be able to worship at our University. I am deeply appreciative of the Office of Spiritual Life and our Spiritual Wellbeing Task Force for the many opportunities we have as a Baylor Family to nurture our faith.

Some updates from around campus:

  • Increasing student retention and graduation rates is one of the goals of our Strategic Enrollment Management plan for the next five years. This work ties directly into a recent $250,000 Student Success Acceleration Program implementation grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board awarded to our Center for Academic Success and Engagement (CASE) in the Paul L. Foster Success Center. The SSAP grant allows CASE and our Department of Mathematics to build upon their success in math curriculum redesign and supplemental instruction to benefit students from underrepresented populations, as well as across the greater student body, in Calculus I and soon Business Calculus.

  • Congratulations to Jeremy Everett, founder and executive director of the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, who received well-deserved recognition from Waco Today magazine as Person of the Year. As Jeremy often says, “No one sector or organization can solve hunger by themselves,” and he and the Baylor Collaborative are at the forefront of these efforts by bringing together the public and private sectors to increase food security on local, state, national and global levels. On Dec. 15, Jeremy will continue this good work, giving testimony at a hearing of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging focused on healthy and affordable food for older and disabled Americans.

  • Baylor and our renowned Institute for Studies of Religion (ISR) were among the leading academic and policy research centers around the world that participated in this week’s inaugural Global Scientific Conference on Human Flourishing. Baylor ISR’s Byron R. Johnson, Ph.D., and Matthew T. Lee, Ph.D., who are on the research team of the unprecedented Global Flourishing Study, led a workshop on “Cross-cultural Measurement of Flourishing Across Disciplines,” bringing together academics, philanthropists, foundations, social innovators and transformational leaders across sectors who do not ordinarily engage each other and helping provide an evidence-based path forward.

  • An interdisciplinary team of Baylor researchers, graduate and undergraduate students have published a new study in the Journal of College and Character to help Baylor and other religiously affiliated colleges and universities better understand the relationship of athletics participation and student-athletes’ religiosity. Using data from the University’s ongoing Faith and Character Study, the research found that student-athletes at Baylor report a higher level of religious beliefs, behaviors and identity than their non-athlete peers. While some religious institutions might be anxious about the relationship between athletics and the broader university, this research shows that coaches and athletics staff can champion an institution’s religious culture, such as Baylor Athletics’ “Preparing Champions for Life,” and create an environment that encourages student-athletes’ spiritual development.

  • For the third time in the past six years, we have a Baylor student participating in the Dr Pepper Tuition Giveaway at this weekend’s football conference championships. Senior Reagan Whitaker of Allen, Texas, will have 30 seconds to throw footballs into a giant Dr Pepper can at the SEC Football Championship Game, set for 3 p.m. Saturday in Atlanta. Check out yesterday’s Lariat article for more details, and Sic ’em, Reagan!

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.


Photo of the Week - 1Dec22

Baylor's Philanthropy and Public Service course celebrated awarding $50,000 to seven Waco-area non-profits earlier this week. Over the past 15 years, the course has awarded more than $1 million to organizations supporting members of our community most in need.