Presidential Perspective - October 12, 2023

October 12, 2023

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

As we head into fall break and focus on midterms right around the corner, I know many students’ stress levels tend to go up. But here’s one simple change that can help reduce stress: Improving sleep.

Baylor sleep researcher Michael K. Scullin, Ph.D., suggests students (and really all of us!) try three Challenges to improve your sleep quality, make you feel happier and more alert, and even improve your academic performance:

  • Illuminate! Challenge (my personal favorite): Spend just 10-15 minutes outside in natural light each morning to increase alertness and improve your mood;
  • Deluminator Challenge: Eliminate lights from electronics and windows in your bedroom so you get a sound night’s sleep; and
  • Anti-Rumination Challenge: Write down tomorrow's to-do list at bedtime, which offloads stress, helps you get to sleep faster and gives you a good action plan for the next day.

Some updates for this week …

  • ISRAEL AND HAMAS: I know many of you have been watching and reading with great interest about the recent attacks in Israel and the Gaza Strip. Our hearts break with the news of disruption, destruction and death gripping the people of the region. To help us understand the conflict, the Office of the Provost is organizing a panel discussion with several Baylor faculty whose research, scholarship and academic interests center around topics inherent in these types of clashes – from history and political science in the Middle East to international studies and religion. More information will come soon as we finalize details for next week’s conversation, and we welcome anyone interested in deepening their understanding of the past and present of this longstanding conflict. 

  • VOTING AT THE HURD: With the Nov. 7 General Election ahead, I am pleased to announce that the Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center has been designated as an official Election Day voting center for McLennan County. We’ll share more information with you as Election Day nears. We encourage you to exercise this important right we enjoy as Americans.

  • GRAND REOPENING OF THE STORE: Last night, we celebrated the grand reopening of The Store, Baylor’s on-campus food pantry, now located on the first floor of the Paul L. Foster Success Center in the Sid Richardson Building. This much-improved space hosts more than just The Store. It also makes possible more integrated, holistic, wrap-around support for students with high financial need guided by our Student Opportunity & Achievement Resources (SOAR) team. College students in the U.S. are 3-to-4 times more likely to experience food insecurity than at any other time in their lives, which affects their physical and mental health, sense of belonging and academic performance. As a caring Christian community, I’m deeply appreciative that students have this important resource to help them be successful at Baylor and beyond. Here’s how you can donate to The Store – there’s a place for every Bear at the table! 

  • UNITED WAY: A reminder that it’s not too late to participate in this year’s United Way Campaign supporting the many needs throughout Waco and McLennan County. There’s no amount too big or small, and every gift makes a difference. Donate here:

  • BAYLOR 101 - EXTERNAL AFFAIRS: The deep connection between Baylor and the City of Waco is made possible by the efforts of the Office of External Affairs. Make sure to tune in for our next Baylor 101 for an interesting conversation about how External Affairs uses the Solid Gold Neighbor initiative, community partnerships and the many other aspects of their work to lead, engage, support and celebrate the collective impact of Waco and Baylor. Jeremy Vickers, Ph.D., and Krista Brinser will be our special guests in this Zoom webinar on Tuesday, Oct. 17, from 1 to 2 p.m. Look for the Zoom link in your inbox next week. Remember, if you are unable to join the live Baylor 101, this and all previous sessions – including the most recent session on Student Life – are archived online for you to watch at any time. 

  • UNDERSTANDING AI: Artificial Intelligence is in the headlines and often in our daily conversations, but what are the benefits and risks of AI technologies? The Office of the Provost will host a faculty panel discussion on "Understanding AI and How it Works" on Thursday, Oct. 26, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. in Kayser Auditorium (Hankamer Academic Center H101). Faculty from across the disciplines are leading this timely discussion, including Matthew Brammer (journalism, public relations and new media), Matthew Cordon (law), Liang Dong, Ph.D. (electrical and computer engineering), Pablo Rivas, Ph.D. (computer science) and Lauren Short, Ph.D. (English, University Writing Center). 

  • FULBRIGHT-HAYS GRANT: Xing Wang, Ph.D., associate professor of China Studies and division director of African and Asian Languages, is principal investigator on Baylor’s first-ever Fulbright-Hays grant – a Fulbright Program through the U.S. Department of Education – which will assist in strengthening our East Asian language programs and Asian Studies program. As Dr. Wang shared, this is a very timely grant for the humanities that provides funding to hire a full-time lecturer in Korean during the grant cycle, build a regionally focused study abroad program in East Asia, including China, Japan and South Korea, create innovative interdisciplinary courses in Asian studies and more. East Asia plays a critical role in the world and its relations with the U.S., and I’m thrilled our students will have enriched opportunities to expand their horizons and enhance their knowledge and understanding of East Asia. 

I pray for rest and safe travels for all of our students, and we’ll see you back on campus Monday.

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.


This week, chemistry professor Bryan Shaw, Ph.D., hosted a cohort of high-school students from the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The goal — to enable them to experience an active college science lab, with tools to make it accessible to them. The result —from everyday experiments to high-tech robotics, participants received hands-on experiences that spurred their interest in science, prepared them for college and a sent vote of confidence that the sciences can be open to anyone with the drive to learn. Be on the lookout for a story from NBC News, who was there to document the heart-warming experience.