Presidential Perspective - February 15, 2024

February 15, 2024

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

As most of you know, I played collegiate basketball and tend to be just a little competitive. Imagine my excitement when logging onto The Wall Street Journal yesterday and reading the following article, "The Small University Endowment That Is Beating the Ivy League," only to find it was all about BAYLOR and our highly successful team in the Office of Investments led by Chief Investment Officer Dave Morehead. Here's an excerpt:

“The endowment gained 6.4% for the fiscal year ended June 30, beating all the Ivy League endowments. Over the past five years, its 10.9% annualized return outpaced that of all the Ivies except for Brown University, which notched a 13.3% average annual gain. Baylor ranks in the top 5% of all U.S. endowments for the period, according to Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service.”

Baylor’s more than $2 billion – and growing – endowment portfolio supports the affordability and quality of a Baylor education today and for generations to come. While not a savings account like you would find at a bank, the earnings from the endowment provide funding for student scholarships, support faculty initiatives and so much more across the University. We are so appreciative of Mr. Morehead and his team of experienced investment professionals who – by the way – are all Baylor grads!

Some updates for this week:

  • FULBRIGHT TOP PRODUCER: For the second consecutive year, Baylor has been recognized nationally as a Fulbright Top Producing Institution with 10 or more graduates or students selected for the Fullbright U.S. Student Program, the U.S. government's flagship international academic exchange program. With 12 student recipients, Baylor is No. 2 in Texas overall and the state’s top private university for producing student Fulbrighters, who study, teach and conduct research abroad. We will celebrate this accomplishment on Baylor Fulbright Day from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Feb. 27 in Cashion 506, where students and faculty can learn more about the Fulbright program. Thanks to the dedication of our Office of Engaged Learning and our world-class faculty, we expect the good news to continue as we have a University-record 34 student Fulbright finalists for the 2024-25 cycle!
  • MEMORIAL TO ENSLAVED PERSONS: As we continue to thoughtfully implement recommendations made by the Commission on Historic Campus Representations, I hope you will join us for a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Memorial to Enslaved Persons on Friday, Feb. 23, at 1:30 p.m. on Founders Mall. The Memorial will incorporate new areas of reflection, gathering and community that honor Baylor’s complete history and our original campus in Independence. Next week’s groundbreaking will be a moment of recognition as we prepare our hearts and look forward to the Memorial’s official dedication and ribbon cutting to come in Spring/Summer 2025.
  • RECOGNIZING ENGINEERS: Next week is National Engineers Week, an opportunity to celebrate innovation and encourage students who will be the next generation of engineers. Faculty and students from our School of Engineering and Computer Science will visit with elementary, middle and high school students throughout the week in Waco ISD, China Spring ISD and Midway ISD to make engineering concepts accessible through hands-on activities and interaction. We’re grateful for the chance to partner with the Waco community and excited to see the connections fostered through these National Engineers Week activities.
  • FALL-TO-SPRING RETENTION: A first-year to second-year freshman retention rate is one of the best indicators of undergraduate students’ successful adjustment to university life, but if universities don’t have a strong Fall-to-Spring retention rate, they most likely won’t have strong Fall-to-Fall retention. For the first time in our history, I can report that 97.2% of Baylor’s first-time freshmenreturned for their spring semester, with nearly all academic units either meeting or exceeding their previous marks. Overall, 97.1% of our undergraduates continued on to spring. This is outstanding news that not only aligns with our Strategic Enrollment Management plan but clearly demonstrates the transformational impact of our faculty and staff, who teach, care for and mentor our students at Baylor.
  • GRADUATE EDUCATION: More graduate students are choosing Baylor to advance their academic and professional goals than ever before — this year, nearly 5,500 graduate students are enrolled in the University. Baylor is growing as an R1 research university as well, and these two things go hand-in-hand. With that, the University is building new programs and resources to better serve the academic, personal and spiritual needs of our diverse graduate student population, grounded in our distinct role as a Christian research university. The Graduate School recently released its 2023 Annual Report, which provides insights into the present and future of graduate education at Baylor. I encourage you to visit the report website to learn more about topics like graduate school mentorship, graduation rates, elevating Baylor’s Christian mission through graduate education and more.
  • FUTURE GRAMMY?: The international recording label Signum Classics is famous for producing outstanding classical music, including the music recorded for King Charles’s Coronation. They can now add the Baylor Wind Ensemble to their list! The premier Baylor wind band has released its album, Divine Mischief, now available on CD and multiple streaming platforms. Just as exciting, the ensemble’s recording – with the help of Grammy-winning producer Elaine Martone – will be submitted for Grammy consideration this fall. Congratulations to the talented musicians with the Baylor Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Eric Wilson, D.M.A., for this accomplishment!

There’s a lot of big-time basketball at Foster Pavilion over the next couple of weeks as we near the end of Big 12 regular season play. I hope to see you there!

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.


The solar eclipse is coming Monday, April 8 – a day on which we will also celebrate Diadeloso. Baylor’s School of Education recently hosted a training session for local educators who are working to incorporate the eclipse into their lesson plans.