Baylor University’s campus is brimming with excitement as we begin a new academic year! The fall semester has always been a time of new beginnings, and this year offers a wealth of opportunities to grow in mind and spirit and in the bonds we share as a Baylor Family.
One of the most widely celebrated developments on our campus is the completion of renovations to Collins Residence Hall — just in time for the Class of 2027! The beloved home to thousands of Baylor women since it opened more than 60 years ago, Collins offers a residential experience that has connected generations of students and continues to be the starting place for friendships that will last a lifetime.
Our incoming class of first-year students is once again full of talent and great promise. As the demand for a Baylor education continues to rise, we are blessed to have men and women from across the nation and around the world who chose to make Baylor their home. They are the heart of Baylor. Indeed, the diversity of backgrounds, experiences and academic accomplishments of our student body form the foundation of Baylor’s success as a preeminent Christian research university.
Speaking of Baylor Bears … we have been thrilled to welcome Judge Indy and Judge Belle to campus! Our newest and cutest mascots, this pair of black bear cubs is settling in nicely at the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat. The Baylor Family also is welcoming four outstanding universities — BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF — as new members of the Big 12 Conference this year, and then Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah in 2024. We look forward to strengthening connections with our alumni and friends as our Bears travel to these cities.
When the Baylor Family gathers on our campus this fall for such traditions as Homecoming, Pigskin and Christmas on 5th Street, they will discover two landmark additions to the Baylor skyline. The stunning Mark and Paula Hurd Welcome Center — Baylor’s new front door to campus — has opened along University Parks Drive. With its innovative, 96-foot-tall columns (a nod to the columns at Independence), Baylor Spirit Shop, Varsity Coffee, McLane Family Alumni Center and more, this facility provides a wonderful gathering place for everyone from prospective students and current Bears to faculty, staff and alumni. In addition, located just on the other side of Interstate 35, the Paul and Alejandra Foster Pavilion is moving quickly toward completion in January and will create a dynamic new home for our championship-winning basketball teams beginning in the new year.
Given our aspirations to achieve even more in transforming students’ lives and serving the surrounding world, we have begun to consider the next chapter in the Baylor story. To that end, in May, I established a Strategic Planning Group that will guide the Baylor Family through a collaborative process over the next year. After gathering input through listening sessions and online surveys this fall, the group will work toward its goal of presenting to me and our University leadership a new strategic plan for approval in April and for affirmation by the Board of Regents next May.
As I have often said, “The world needs a Baylor.” It also is true that Baylor needs you. Thank you for your tireless support and productive engagement in the life of Baylor University. Your contributions are invaluable in strengthening our ever-growing and distinct role in higher education.
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.