The state of Baylor’s presidential office has had its share of ups and downs recently, to say the least. From Starr’s firing to the limbo of Interim President David Garland’s tenure — the position has been anything but stable.
But finally, after months of deliberation, the board has been able to report some good news to the Baylor family: They have found their 15th president of Baylor in Dr. Linda Livingstone.
While there are plenty of reasons to celebrate this new hire, one of the biggest pieces of news is that Livingstone is the first woman president in the history of the university. There is reason to be excited about this historic moment, but placing our focus on her gender diminishes the importance of her hiring.
Bringing excessive attention to the fact that she is a woman overshadows all of her accomplishments as an individual. She expressed this sentiment herself after the announcement of her presidency, saying, “I am the right person regardless of what my gender is. I take [issues of sexual assault] very seriously, and they are important issues for every person in the community. At Baylor we are going to do the right thing, certainly according to the law but beyond that, and provide a safe and healthy environment for our students.”
Livingstone has proven herself to be an extremely qualified individual. A graduate of Oklahoma State University, Livingstone holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and management, a master’s degree in business administration and a doctorate in management and organizational behavior. On top of her stellar academic resume, she has also taught in the department of management at Baylor University, has held the position of dean of the Graziadio School of Business at Pepperdine University and currently serves as the dean of the George Washington University School of Business. She is excellently suited for the position of president and has earned her position through experience as well as academic expertise.
We should expect nothing but the best from Livingstone, who is assuming her position at Baylor during one of the most tumultuous times in our history. We believe that Livingstone is more than capable of handling the current Title IX situation and improving the lives of sexual assault survivors along with the rest of the student body and the staff. However, we sincerely hope that her gender has not put her at a perceived advantage because we hold to the belief that any president who is elected to this office by the Board of Regents, regardless of whether they are male or female, should be able handle this sensitive situation with grace and poise.
And with that said, Dr. Livingstone, we are excited to welcome you to the Baylor family. But as a university that is hurting and healing during a turbulent time, we have a high standard for someone that our community looks to as a leader.
We hope you will be someone who listens to your students and faculty, because have seen what happens when too many people turn their ears away from the people they represent.
We hope you are someone who maintains a presence on campus. We believe it is imperative that the personalized experience at Baylor remains and that this is best done so through an active interaction with the students.
We hope you are a president who is unabashedly transparent — alack thereof has proven to be detrimental to this university’s image and has taken a toll on the internal morale.
And lastly, we hope you are a president who will valiantly move to change this university for the better — that you will rebuild the compassionate atmosphere we all found when we chose to come to Baylor, that you will facilitate the change of the university itself and that you will revive the Baylor that has been hurt and humbled into a place we are all proud to call our alma matter.