Presidential Perspective - January 25, 2024

January 25, 2024

Baylor Students, Faculty, Staff and Parents:

The Baylor Family’s favorite (real) bears are turning 1! I hope you’ll join me for Judge Indy and Judge Belle’s First Birthday block party this Saturday, Jan. 27, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Bill & Eva Williams Bear Habitat. It’s hard to believe our beloved American black bear cubs are already hitting this significant milestone!

Free commemorative t-shirts will be available for the first 500 Baylor students, with additional shirts available for purchase. If you’re unable to make it out to celebrate our birthday girls, you can still visit the Baylor Bear Habitat online storefront.

Saturday will include a full lineup of family-friendly activities for all ages, including a live DJ, caricature artist, face painting, bounce houses and balloons. Local food and drink vendors will have trucks on-site, and be sure to grab a piece of birthday cake – for humans – while supplies last.

A few items of note for this week:

  • CHERRY TEACHING AWARD: As a Christian R1 university, Baylor puts a high emphasis on excellence in undergraduate teaching. Earlier this week, we announced the recipient of Baylor’s Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching, which honors great teachers, stimulates discussion in the academy about the value of teaching and encourages departments and institutions to value their own great teachers. The 2024 Cherry Award recipient is Jay L. Banner, Ph.D., the F. M. Bullard Professor in the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Banner will receive a $250,000 award – the largest of its kind in the country – and an additional $25,000 for his department at UT-Austin to further Baylor’s commitment to great teaching. We are excited to have him teach in residence at Baylor during the 2025 spring semester.
  • CIVIL DISCOURSE PANEL: I want to thank those of you who attended Monday’s Baylor Conversation Series kick-off panel on civil discourse, politics and faith. I enjoyed talking with Curtis Chang, Justin Giboney and Kaitlyn Schiess about how we can prepare ourselves not only for election season, but also for everyday interactions with family, friends and colleagues. The panel discussion was recorded for those who could not attend, and I encourage you to watch it on-demand at your convenience. Also, don’t forget we will have more opportunities to learn and equip ourselves for civil discourse later this year.
  • COLLEGIATE DAY OF PRAYER: Hopefully you have already heard or read about the 2024 Collegiate Day of Prayer, which we will host here at Baylor next month. On Thursday, Feb. 29 ,we will be the originating site for a global time of prayer for college-aged students. The evening service at Waco Hall will feature members of the Baylor and Waco communities, and I hope you will attend. And for the Baylor Family near and far, we will soon be sharing information on how you can access the livestream from your home, church or other local gathering. In the meantime, be sure to add these BEAR Prayers to your quiet time in anticipation of this important worldwide event.
  • READERS MEET THE AUTHOR: The spring edition of the Readers Meet the Author series celebrating Baylor faculty authors returns this Tuesday, Jan. 30, at noon in the Schumacher Flex Commons on the first floor of Moody Memorial Library, or livestreamed via Zoom webinar. Our first author is Felipe Hinojosa, Ph.D., professor of history and The Jackson Family Chair for Baylor in Latin America, who will join history colleague Elesha Coffman, Ph.D., for a conversation about Dr. Hinojosa’s scholarly work, “Apostles of Change: Latino Radical Politics, Church Occupations, and the Fight to Save the Barrio.” The Readers Meet the Author series showcases the exceptional work of our faculty while sharing perspectives and ideas with each other as a reflection of civil academic discourse.
  • DEAN’S ACADEMIC HONOR LIST: More than 5,400 Baylor students have been named to the Fall 2023 Dean’s Academic Honor List, which recognizes undergraduates for their outstanding academic work during each semester. Students honored on the Dean’s List earned a minimum semester grade-point average of 3.70, with no grade lower than a “C” while enrolled in at least 12 graded semester hours. I extend my congratulations to our Dean’s List honorees and my appreciation to our faculty for deeply valuing teaching and mentoring, a true hallmark of a Baylor education.

Excited to be on this semester’s journey with all of you. And if you’ve committed to a Healthy 2024, don’t forget that group fitness classes begin next week through the FitWell program at the SUB! A wide range of opportunities are available for students, faculty and staff.

Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.


Baylor will host a number of national experts for seminars and presentations – such as last week’s Conversation Series on civil discourse – throughout the spring semester. Keep up to date by visiting the University Calendar frequently and checking out Baylor News Digest each Wednesday.