Baylor’s First Gentleman Brad Livingstone is the first to fill this new role at the university. Livingstone teaches history and government at Vanguard College Preparatory School in Waco. He is a history buff who loves his students and has plans to go skydiving in the spring. The Lariat sat down with Livingstone and here’s what he had to say.
Q: How has it been being the first First Gentleman at Baylor?
That’s been an amazing journey as well. Again, we’ve only been here for, I guess we just crossed the 100 day threshold. One of the things that’s kind of been a neat thing for me personally is being the first “gentleman”.
I have mentors, Charles and Elizabeth Davis. Charles is the first gentleman of Furman University. As soon as I heard that this was going to happen, I called Charles and I said, “OK, Charles, what did you do at Furman that you’re really glad you did as the first gentlemen when you first started, what do you wish you had done, and what do you wish you hadn’t done?”
We try to get together quite often, as need be. I get to ask him questions and things like that. His interests are a little different than mine in the sense of things he enjoys doing. He enjoys cooking. They have a lot of beautiful flowers; he enjoys that. I’m not interested in any one of those, so I’m finding my niche.
One of them we’re going to have is the Baylor program that assists veterans at a family gathering at our house next month. The kids will be there and the veterans that we have here and some of the alumnus will be at our house with their children. Just a way of connecting with them and letting them know that we care about them and we appreciate them at so many different levels, including their service to our country.
Q: So as you’ve been navigating this new dynamic of being first gentleman, how have you been exploring what you’re interested in and passionate about and connecting that with Baylor?
I had somebody come up to me when Linda hadn’t even started yet, saying, ‘You know, previous first ladies would host teas and things like that.’ I just looked at her and said, ‘I’m pretty sure that’s not going happen with me.’ Not that I don’t like teas, but yeah … that’s not an interest of mine.
We had a meeting a couple months ago at Pat Neff and we were going over some of the things as first gentleman I could get plugged in to.
When the regents come on board, I host the spouses, so we went down to Independence as the first function. That was really neat.
I just was not prepared for it to be that emotional, I bet a third of the students were bawling … I’m not a real emotional person, so I wasn’t that emotional, but it was very moving.
But then I suggested, ‘What do you think about for one of these events, taking everybody to a shooting range?’ We could bring in a professional marksman that can show us and demonstrate, clay pigeons, how to knock them out, skeet and all that. And then if they want to, they could take a few shots themselves. What do you think about that? I kid you not, everyone around that table was just looking at me like [Livingstone’s jaw dropped.]
Just a thought, just a thought.
Q: What has it been like rejoining the Baylor family?
It has been everything that we thought it would be plus even more. The one thing that I love, you know, is that we were here for 11 years. We were already madly in love with Baylor.
In fact, when we left, somebody said, do you ever think that you would come back?
Coming back after 15 years, number one, we got lost on this campus. This campus has changed so dramatically in 15 years. We didn’t know where any of the buildings were. People would ask us where such and such building is. It’s like, I have no idea. What is a Garage Mahal? I’ve never heard of a Garage Mahal before.
So coming back has been really special. Everywhere we’ve gone before, coming from Oklahoma to here, from here to Southern California, from Southern California to Washington, D.C., we started over. We started over with new jobs, with new friends. We started over with new church, everything, new house.
We really feel like we’ve come back home. We’ve come full circle.
Here’s the one thing that we hear everywhere we go, number one, the amount of love people have for Baylor from the alumni. It’s just amazing. Number two: people say they’re praying for us. Sometimes that’s kind of a cliché, but it’s been palpable. We’ve sensed the prayers of individuals.
I was at Genie Car Wash, and we had we just moved here. My car was filthy, we drove it all the way from Washington, D.C. It needed to be washed. I remember going to Genie before, but I didn’t remember the protocol. I parked the car, got out and a gentleman was there and I said, “do I pay you or what do I do?”
He goes, “no, I just need your information.” So I said “Brad Livingstone” and we’d only been here like two days and he looked at me and says, “Is your wife the new president of Baylor?” And he was kind of a taller African-American gentleman and I said “yeah, she is.” And he gives me a hug and he goes, “I want you to know, we’ve been praying for you ever since we heard that your wife was going to be the president. And my church has been praying for you.”
Everywhere we go, people have come up and said you know we’ve been praying for you.
The thing I tell them is to keep praying.
We’ve felt the prayer. God’s favor has just been so rewarding and so magnificent so keep praying. That’s something that we really not only are thankful for, but we really need.
Q: If you could send a message to Baylor students, what would you say?
I would say if I had one message for Baylor students, it would have to be one of my favorite verses:
“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not unto your own understanding, acknowledge the Lord in all of your ways and he’ll make your paths straight.”- Proverbs 3:5-6
Obviously right now, it’s been a tough last 18 months and not only with the football situation, but it’s been a tough time. I’ve seen since we’ve been here. A lot of great things are happening here at Baylor University. This is a phenomenal institution and in fact, it’s one of the few Christian upper-tier type universities in America that’s still a Christian institution.
It’s a very unique place to be. [I would say] to make sure that even in the midst of struggles, and every place has struggles from time to time, never forget how blessed we are to be here.
And take advantage of the incredible opportunities God’s placed before us to not only further our education — I’m still learning and I’m taking advantage of that too at Baylor—but also to reach out and use the gifts that God’s given us. To be a blessing to others and watch how God uses that in a mighty way. Again, I’m saying that as someone who’s been there done that and looks back and says, ‘Man, if I could do it all over again, this is what I would’ve done.’ Sometimes when you’re in the midst of it, you kind of lose sight of that. Baylor is a tremendous institution, in many cases second to none and God’s put us in an amazing situation in an amazing place to serve others, so let’s get out and serve others.