Presidential Perspective - February 17, 2022
Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:
As we’ve progressed together through the COVID-19 pandemic over the past two years, Baylor has continued to prioritize the health and well-being of our campus community, while periodically adjusting our policies and protocols as warranted. Today we are announcing the rescission of the University’s facemask policy for classrooms and labs when used in academic settings. In other words, facemasks will be optional at Baylor – other than when requested in private offices – effective this Monday, Feb. 21.
We are basing this decision on the University’s high vaccination rate, which currently stands at 82% overall, new research indicating that cloth facemasks add little protection against the more contagious COVID-19 variants, and the significant drop in the number of COVID-19 cases on our campus and in McLennan County.
We strongly encourage you to continue monitoring your personal health for COVID-19 symptoms on a daily basis and seek testing through the University or your personal healthcare provider if you are not well. Please respect your classmates and colleagues and stay at home if you are sick.
The University will continue to offer N95 facemasks – which offer the highest levels of COVID-19 protection – at no charge. These are available for students at many high-traffic locations across campus and for departments by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
While the pandemic appears to be on the decline, we will continue to monitor COVID-19 closely and make any adjustments to our policies and procedures should conditions worsen. We appreciate the ongoing work and feedback of the President’s Council, Health Management Team, academic and Faculty Senate leadership, and many others throughout the pandemic.
And thank you for your prayers, patience and cooperation since early 2020!
Some updates for this week:
- Baylor’s Board of Regents is on campus this week for its regular quarterly meeting. We’ll provide a summary of the Board’s discussions and actions for you late Friday.
- As we move toward springtime in Texas, that means it’s also the beginning of severe weather season. Our Baylor Department of Public Safety encourages each one of us – students, faculty, staff and visitors – to always be vigilant, aware of our surroundings and proactive by having a plan and knowing the protective actions to take if we have severe weather or any kind of emergency on campus. You can find out more about emergency preparedness at Baylor, the multi-tiered Baylor Alert emergency communications system and the dedicated units focused on campus safety and security on the DPS website.
- Did you know that the Baylor Symphony Orchestra has had only two directors in its illustrious 76-year history? Stephen Heyde, The Mary Franks Thompson Professor of Orchestral Studies and Conductor-in-Residence, has led our acclaimed orchestral program since 1984, and he announced this week he will retire in May. We are deeply grateful for his dedication to our students and the orchestral program that, in his words, so beautifully “reflect both the excellence and Christian mission of the University.” As we join the School of Music in celebrating Heyde’s exceptional career, we also welcome eminent conductor Miguel Harth-Bedoya, who will join the University this fall as director of the Baylor Symphony. Bravo, Maestro Heyde, and welcome, Maestro Harth-Bedoya!
- The Baylor Career Center will host Career Day next Wednesday, Feb. 23, from 2 to 7 p.m. in the Foster Campus for Business and Innovation atrium, mezzanine and 250 conference room. This event provides a networking opportunity for students of all majors across the University. Students who participate in Career Day can meet and interview with recruiters from over 100 employers across a variety of industries from around the country. I encourage all students looking for jobs and internships to attend Career Day and establish a relationship with the experts in the Career Center who are eager to help you find success after graduation.
- Last week I mentioned that we have 5,517 students enrolled in graduate and professional programs this spring, including many studying with us online. As I was scrolling through Facebook earlier in the week, I read a great story about two of our Doctorate of Education students who met in January 2019 in their first online class via Zoom – and recently married. As faculty member Jessica Meehan, Ed.D., said: “I knew our program was going to impact lives. I never expected that it would impact lives outside of education and career trajectories.”
If you are looking for something to do this weekend, Baylor Athletics is hosting 10 home events Friday-Sunday as part of Baylor Bold Weekend. In addition to men’s basketball, baseball, softball, women’s tennis and equestrian, you can drop by the Block Party outside Baylor Ballpark beginning at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. And be sure to download the Baylor Bold Rewards app for a host of prizes.
Sic ’em, Bears!
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK
Saturday marks the Bear Climb, Baylor Outdoor Adventure’s annual climbing competition and USAC Collegiate Qualifying Event hosted at the Baylor Rock in the McLane Student Life Center. Climbers of all ability levels will compete against collegiate climbers from schools in the USAC Southwest Region.