Bailey Brammer | Editor-in-Chief
After a summer spent interacting with incoming freshmen and receiving her Baylor Line jersey, as well as being hard at work as president of the university, Dr. Linda Livingstone is eager to take on the new school year and welcome the class of 2021. Livingstone spoke with Lariat about her and her husband’s experiences on campus this summer, as well as her plans to continue to move the university toward a bright future in spite of the turmoil of the last year and a half.
Q: You and your husband came from Move-In today. Tell me a little bit about what that experience was like.
I have to tell you, it was an amazing experience. I had heard about it, people had described it, but you really don’t get a feel for it until you actually are there and see it and experience it or participate in it. We loved being there and helping. We loved seeing our students and faculty and the staff actually moving people in, but it was just really fun to see some of the new students and their parents, and the way we do move in reduces the stress so dramatically for people in the move-in process, I mean I remember when I moved in, and I was by myself, and my parents couldn’t come with me and I had to empty my car by myself. And I don’t know how many carloads I had to take up to my room by myself, and you’re just exhausted, and you’re overwhelmed. And so the way we do this is spectacular.
Q: I know you also took part in some Line Camp activities as well this summer and you did the trip to Independence to see where Baylor began. How was it seeing students see that and see that’s where the school’s foundations started?
I had heard what a fabulous and moving experience it was. It is one of those things that you kind of have to do it and experience it to really understand it because, again, I had heard it described, and after the students all got there in their jerseys and went through the columns, they had Brad and I go through as well. And when we walked behind the columns and the students and Line Camp leaders are lined up and they are all high-fiving us and saying “welcome home, President Livingstone, and they gave us our jerseys and we put them on, it was a very emotional experience and very moving. And then you walk through those columns, and I can just see how profound an experience it is, particularly, it certainly was for us, and for these freshmen to really sort of be walking into the Baylor family in a very significant and very visual and symbolic way.
Q: Last time we spoke, we talked about you and your husband finding your own way to impact students and interact with them. How’s that going?
A couple things, I would say. We’ve eaten at Penland several times this summer, so one of the things we’re going to try to do this summer is get around to the dining halls. I’ve heard we need to have pancakes at Teal on Thursday nights, and go to Brooks for their family dinner some Sunday evening. To see students in the setting where they are, living life, is a great thing and I really don’t like to cook either, so any chance I can let someone else cook for me, I’m happy to do. We’ll certainly do as much of that as we can since we live right on campus and that’s easy to do.
Q: Are you excited for the upcoming football season?
I am excited! I have to say, I’m excited about all our sports coming up. We have volleyball and soccer as well as football coming up, so we’re going to certainly try to get around and spread our attendance to catch a variety of sports and support all of our athletic teams. It’s an exciting time with a new coach, and I know Coach Matt Rhule has been working very hard with the team, and he’s done such a great job of representing the university since he’s been on board. I’m looking forward to his leadership of that team and seeing how the team does this year. What’s really impressed me about Coach Rhule is that he views his job as a coach as being much much more than what he does with the players on the field.
Q: You’ve stated before that one of your focuses as president is to ensure the Baylor mission as well as academic excellence and student success. Do you feel like your implementation of this has been good in your first few months, or is there anything you’d like to change?
I think that one of the things you learn while you’re out talking to people is about how important the core of our mission is to the Baylor community, and that our Christian mission and our academic mission at our core matter a lot to people. We do have to protect that and we do have to strengthen that. I knew this, but I think I’ve learned it more… There’s been a lot of pain in the community in the last year and a half, and that pain was felt very, very deeply because people love the university so much. Because they care so much about the community, they really are ready to come together and move forward, and I think it provides a tremendous opportunity as a new president to take advantage of that core love and support of Baylor to help us strengthen our mission and continue to enhance our Christian identity. I don’t know that it’s made me think differently about anything than I thought coming in, but I think it’s reinforced why it’s so important to focus on the core of our mission, and given me great optimism for the future.
Q: We’ve talked a lot about what you’re going to do for Baylor, and what you’re going to do for students and faculty and staff. What can students do for you?
I love that question. Thank you for asking that. One, I would say to pray for me and my leadership and that I have good judgement and wisdom in the decisions that we have to make, but I would also just ask students to approach their life on campus in a way that allows them to fully experience what it means to be in college. There’s so much rich life you can get out of college, and I want students to experience that in healthy ways so that they leave here feeling like they got everything they possibly could out of every minute that they’re here. I would also want students to think about how they engage with one another, and how they respect one another and care for one another in ways that are healthy and supportive and fun and challenging, all at the same time, but knowing that in this diverse community we can come together in healthy ways and have interesting discussions, but if we respect each other and listen to each other, even in times we disagree, we can have a healthy environment and one that helps move us forward as an institution.