Presidential Perspective - May 12, 2022

May 12, 2022

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

Commencement is always a special time on the Baylor campus, and this year has added significance for the First Gent and me. Our daughter, Shelby, will graduate Friday night from Baylor’s Truett Seminary with a master’s of divinity degree. I cannot wait to hug her on-stage and officially welcome her into the long line of Baylor graduates. We are so proud of Shelby as a daughter, scholar and a light in this world.

In addition to my daughter, I cannot wait to greet the more than 3,000 degree candidates who will participate in Baylor’s Spring Commencement Ceremonies over the next few days. This is our first May Commencement at the Ferrell Center in three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ceremonies will include many 2020 and 2021 graduates. I love seeing all the smiling faces and experiencing the excitement of family and friends. To our graduates, a big congratulations, and we hope you will stay connected to the University and fling your Baylor green and gold afar.

Some updates for this week:

  • Beginning the week of May 23, renovation will be underway on Collins Hall, which will be closed for construction work until August 2023. This project also includes closing the Collins parking lot and shifting the 80 faculty/staff spaces to the 8th Street Garage. I do want to note that the 600 women who usually live in Collins will be housed in Texana House and University House, both reconfigured for all first-year female students. The Collins renovation is an important project for Baylor as it resumes the plan to renovate our remaining residence halls with the goal of improving the on-campus residential experience.
  • It’s been a banner year at Baylor for prestigious Fulbright awards: a record 14 student recipients and now a second faculty member who will teach and conduct research abroad as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar. Candi K. Cann, Ph.D., associate professor of religion in the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, will be the first Fulbright Scholar at Han Nam University, one of a few Christian universities in South Korea and where she was among its first American exchange students in 1990-91. A noted researcher on death and dying, Dr. Cann will teach Han Nam’s seminary faculty while researching the rise of the country’s hospital funeral homes, examining the ways in which they promote religious pluralism – a topic that aligns with her current research on diversity in death – and the intersection of death and technology around the world.
  • Congratulations to the Baylor School of Education and its iEngage Summer Civics Institute, announced this week as the 2022 recipient of the Sandra Day O’Connor Award for the Advancement of Civics Education. This award – named for the retired Supreme Court Justice and tireless civics education advocate who founded iCivics educational games – reflects the outstanding work by faculty members Brooke Blevins, Ph.D., and Karon LeCompte, Ph.D. Their scholarship has focused on civics education and digital technologies for both students and teachers, but they also took it a step further by creating iEngage, a free, five-day civics camp to help middle school students learn how to make a difference in their schools, neighborhoods and communities. I look forward to seeing iEngage students back on campus Aug. 1-5!
  • Yesterday marked the 69th anniversary of the 1953 Waco Tornado that ripped through downtown and claimed the lives of 114 individuals. Not only did our city suffer a massive loss of lives and injuries, but Downtown Waco was forever altered and is only recently beginning to recover to its pre-May 11, 1953, hustle and bustle. The Texas Collection within Baylor Libraries has compiled many historical images of the Waco Tornado’s wrath that serve as a reminder of why we must remain vigilant during the storm season.

Next week the Baylor Board of Regents will be on campus for its quarterly meeting. We’ll provide a summary for you next Friday afternoon. Here’s to a great weekend!

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.


Photo of the Week - 12May22

Commencement is definitely a family affair this week for Joe Coker, Ph.D., of the Department of Religion, who also serves as faculty in residence for North Russell Residence Hall. From L-R, the Cokers include Joe’s wife, Amy; sons Ben; Layton (B.A., University Scholars, Honors College); Connor (B.S., nursing); and Charles; and Joe. Congratulations!