Presidential Perspective - October 19, 2023

October 19, 2023

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

Baylor’s relationship with Waco is so important to us as we serve our community in partnership with leaders and organizations that strongly believe in the potential of our city, rallying cross-campus and city-wide resources that allow all to prosper and flourish.

Coordinated by our Office of External Affairs, Baylor’s institutional initiative, Solid Gold Neighbor, provides structure with how we engage with Waco, focusing on areas of economic development, health, education, cultural wealth and city growth. In addition, the University runs a variety of programs in support of this work, in addition to collaborating with nonprofit partners across the city to enhance capacity. 

If you missed our latest Baylor 101 webinar about how External Affairs leads, engages, supports and celebrates the collective impact of Waco and Baylor – and how our entire campus community can participate in this vital work – the webinar is available to watch on demand, or you can visit the External Affairs website to learn more. 

On Monday, it was such an honor to join Waco Mayor Dillon Meek, the family of the late Rev. M.L. Cooper Jr. and members of Second Missionary Baptist Church for the formal unveiling of the new M.L. Cooper Drive sign at Dutton Avenue and Truett Seminary. From 1958 to 1981, Rev. Cooper pastored the historic church on the north side of the Baylor campus while also serving as a prominent civil rights leader at the height of segregation in America. This special moment on campus recognized the legacy of this church, the importance of the church to the Black community and to Waco, and the importance to our University’s history since Second Baptist was a neighbor to Baylor for so many years. I’m so pleased Rev. Cooper is now recognized permanently on our campus. 

Some updates from across campus:

  • STEPPIN’ OUT IN SERVICE: One of the many ways our students can give back to Waco happens this Saturday, as hundreds of students take part in Steppin’ Out, a Baylor service tradition in which students “step out” together across Waco in direct service to our local community. Worksites include a Lake Waco shoreline clean-up, Compassion Ministries of Waco, the Naomi House of Dayspring Baptist Church, The Arc of McLennan County, Friends for Life, World Hunger Relief Farm, several local churches and many individual residences across Waco. Steppin’ Out also is held in the spring, so if you are interested in participating next semester, visit the Missions, Service and Public Life website and fill out the interest form. 

  • BFSA ANNIVERSARY: I wanted to extend my congratulations to Baylor’s first Employee Resource Group (ERG), the Black Faculty & Staff Association (BFSA), which celebrated its five-year anniversary this month. ERGs help Baylor foster an inclusive environment that provides an excellent employee experience while meeting the needs of a more diverse faculty and staff. Recently established Baylor ERGs include Latinx FSA, Asian American & Pacific Islander FSA, Military-Connected FSA and Jewish FSA. 

  • PRAYERS FOR PEACE GATHERING: Earlier this week, I highlighted several actions we are taking in response to the Israel/Hamas conflict. Yesterday, hundreds of you participated in the faculty panel discussion to learn more about the political, historical and religious contexts of the war, and later today at 4 p.m. in Elliston Chapel, we have an opportunity to pray, reflect and support members of the Baylor Family who are hurting. This important vigil will be led by University Chaplain and Dean of Spiritual Life, Dr. Burt Burleson, and all are welcome. 

  • BRIGHTS CENTER: Baylor is called to advance research that has an impact on our neighbors, and it’s meaningful to see interdisciplinary collaborations across campus that do just that. This week, we announced the launch of a new center that will advance these partnerships in the area of human flourishing. The Baylor Research in Growth and Human Thriving Science (BRIGHTS) Center was founded by Sarah Schnitker, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology and neuroscience. This new center will convene researchers across campus from areas like the sciences, humanities and social sciences to tackle complex questions. We’re excited to see the research projects that advance from BRIGHTS in the years ahead. 

  • CHERRY AWARD LECTURES: Outstanding undergraduate teaching is a hallmark of a Baylor education, and I invite all faculty to attend the upcoming public lectures presented by three preeminent scholars/teachers who are finalists for Baylor's 2024 Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, the only national teaching award presented by a college or university to an individual for exceptional teaching. The eventual Cherry Award recipient will teach in residence at Baylor during the 2024 fall or 2025 spring semester. Finalists and their lectures are: 
    • Jay Banner,D., The F. M. Bullard Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences in the Jackson School of Geosciences and Director of the Environmental Science Institute at the University of Texas at Austin, 3 p.m. Oct. 24 in BSB B.110;
    • Kelly Lambert, Ph.D., MacEldin Trawick Chair and Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of Richmond, at 3:30 p.m. Oct. 30 in the Paul and Jane Meyer Conference Center, Foster 250; and
    • Claire Katz, Ph.D., professor and interim department head, Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture at Texas A&M University, 3:30 p.m. Nov. 6 in Armstrong Browning Library’s McLean Foyer of Meditation.

  • BEING BEARAWARE: October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and Baylor ITS appreciates the faculty and staff who have completed their annual cybersecurity training. Cybersecurity is becoming a greater and greater risk for colleges and universities across the country, with major disruptions at several universities such as the University of Michigan and closer to home at SFA in Texas. It’s so important that we stay vigilant and always be BearAware, Baylor's cybersecurity awareness initiative that provides us with best practices to BeSecure, BeCareful, BePrivate, BeSafe and BeAlert. 

We sure have enjoyed the fall-like weather, but I hear that warmer temperatures are on the way this weekend!

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.


If you were unable to view the “Ring of Fire” eclipse here in Waco last Saturday, you missed a show. This time-lapse photo captured by Baylor Photography of the eclipse over Pat Neff Hall is just incredible.