Presidential Perspective - September 21, 2023

September 21, 2023

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

Earlier this week U.S. News & World Report released its annual rankings of “Best Colleges,” and Baylor maintained our status as a Top-100 university overall and as one of the Top 50 private universities nationally. Evident in the rankings is recognition of Baylor’s commitment to a transformational undergraduate education, as we ranked:

  • 5 for First-Year Experience;
  • 10 for Learning Communities;
  • 21 for Undergraduate Research; and
  • 22 for Undergraduate Teaching.

Unfortunately, we dropped from No. 77 to No. 93 overall nationally due primarily to an overhaul of U.S. News & World Report’s methodology, which focused more on social mobility. This change benefited public institutions significantly and disadvantaged many private colleges and universities including Baylor.

Be assured, Baylor did not become a different institution overnight based on the release of this year’s rankings. There are several Baylor distinctives not captured by the rankings, such as faith and character development and faculty who take a personal interest in the lives of students, providing mentorship both within and beyond the classroom. Thankfully, we have been working aggressively to improve graduation and retention rates and other student outcomes through our Strategic Enrollment Management Plan, working in concert with the Baylor Benefit affordability program to support high-ability students with the greatest financial need and our endowment funding through the Give Light capital campaign to create more student scholarships.

I believe our future remains bright!

Some updates for this week …

  • CELEBRATING RESEARCH ADMINISTRATORS: This Monday we will celebrate National Research Administrator Day, a day that has become truly meaningful to us here at Baylor. Baylor is distinct as a Christian Research 1 university, and we’re thrilled to see the impact our researchers have on the world. It takes a true team effort to bring that to fruition: the work of our outstanding faculty; research administrators within the Office of the Vice Provost for Research; faculty and staff who support research in their departments, offices and labs; postdoctoral researchers; and students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Each day, their research advances Baylor’s Christian mission, and their spirit of collaboration elevates it even further as they address global challenges together. For all you do, we say, “Thank you.”

    To the Baylor Family – I hope you’ll take a moment on Monday to share Baylor’s social media posts within your own social media networks to highlight Baylor Research and its impact.

  • STUDYING THE INKLINGS: Join me in congratulating Richard Rankin Russell, Ph.D., professor of English and graduate program director, on his selection as a member of the inaugural cohort of Inklings Project Fellows, a new intercollegiate initiative based out of the University of Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute for Church Life. Dr. Russell will join scholars from around the country to share ideas and pedagogy on the famed Inklings author group, which included such notable authors as C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. This fellowship also will allow Dr. Russell to expand an existing course at Baylor on the study of the Oxford Christians, providing opportunities for students to broaden their views on Christian literature and what it means to be a modern Christian academic.

  • LIGHTNING SAFETY: Texas weather can change rapidly as we learned last Saturday during a two-hour lightning delay at McLane Stadium. Baylor’s Department of Public Safety not only monitors thunderstorms with dangerous lightning at athletics events, they also are keeping a close eye on campus through our Earth Network automated outdoor alerting system, which was installed this summer. The system covers various outdoor areas at Baylor, including our intramural fields, and uses an audible tone and flashing strobe to alert individuals of lightning threats within an 8-mile radius, a cue to take shelter indoors. It’s another critical component of our multi-layered emergency notification system at Baylor.

  • FINAL FOOTBALL MEETING: Saturday marks that last time Baylor and Texas play each other on the gridiron as members of the Big 12 Conference. Cheer for the Bears, but let’s also exhibit good sportsmanship toward our guests. As the season unfolds, we are looking forward to playing our new Big 12 schools – Central Florida on the road next week, followed by Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium and Houston at McLane Stadium later this season.

After a brief glimpse at fall weather, the Texas heat is back this week. Be sure to hydrate as you prepare to head to McLane Stadium on Saturday!

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.


Thank you to our Baylor staff who support our students and faculty in so many ways! I enjoyed spending time with everyone this week as part of the Fall Staff Meeting at the new Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center.