Distinguished Academic Leader Takes the Reins at Baylor on June 1

May 16, 2017

On April 18, 2017, Baylor University announced the selection of Linda A. Livingstone, PhD, current dean and professor of management at The George Washington University School of Business, to become the institution’s 15th president.

Linda A. LivingstoneA Perkins, Oklahoma, native, Dr. Livingstone played varsity basketball at Oklahoma State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in economics and management, a Master of Business Administration and a Doctor of Philosophy in management and organizational behavior. Her husband Brad also played basketball at Oklahoma State, and their daughter Shelby, who was born in Waco, is a rising senior on Rice University’s volleyball team.

Dr. Livingstone began her professional career at Oklahoma State as a graduate teaching assistant and research assistant in the management department. She joined Baylor’s faculty in 1991 as an assistant professor of management and became associate professor in that department in 1997. The following year, she was named associate dean of Baylor’s business graduate programs.

Dr. Livingstone left Baylor in 2002 for Pepperdine University, where she served as dean of the Graziadio School of Business Management and professor of management. In 2014, she was named dean and professor of management for the George Washington (GW) University School of Business.

Dr. Livingstone has answered numerous questions from media over the past weeks. A sampling of those conversations follows.

As a former collegiate athlete, what is your view of the role of athletics in higher education, particularly at Baylor?

We’re an academic institution, and that’s the core of our business. But wrapped around that are a lot of other experiences that inform and build on the academic and Christian mission of the institution. Athletics is an important part of that. It’s one of the most visible things we do on a campus; it’s a tremendous window into the institution. As much as we sometimes wish we received that kind of publicity for an amazing research project that a faculty member does or some other amazing activity in which a student engages, in our society, athletics gets that attention. But what you do in athletics has to support the Christian mission and the academic mission, not the other way around. We will focus on continuing to excel on the court and on the field, but doing it in a way that enhances and supports the core academic mission and the core Christian mission of the University.

What is the significance of being named the first female president of Baylor, especially in a time when the focus is on the safety of women on campus?

I have a great appreciation for Baylor’s history and certainly understand what my being named president means in that context. But it is not the first time in my career that I have been the first woman at doing something, I think I can take that on. I certainly appreciate the confidence that the search committee and the Board of Regents have shown in me as a leader and am grateful that they believe I am the right person for Baylor at this particular time – regardless of my gender. I look forward to the opportunities that are ahead.

In regard to the second part of your question regarding campus safety, I obviously take those issues very seriously. They are certainly important issues because they affect the entire community – female students to be sure – but also male students and others in the community as well. And it is certainly my commitment coming into this role that at Baylor we are going to do the right things, certainly according to federal and state guidelines and law, and beyond that, the right things as an institution of higher education.

We are going to do everything we can to be sure we provide a safe and healthy environment for all of our students. I’m committed to that, I know the Board of Regents is committed to that and we will continue to be vigilant in that as we move forward.

What do you see as your biggest challenge in moving Baylor forward? 

It has been a difficult time for Baylor, given all that has gone on in the last year or so. And I look forward to working with the members of the Baylor Family, the Baylor community. I think one of the things that is so special about Baylor is the tremendous passion that people have for the University and the love they have for the University. In spite of some of the challenges that we have to work through, I think that foundational sense of commitment to Baylor and love for Baylor is really critical, and we have to build on that. 

I believe we also must continue to build on the many exciting initiatives that are going on at the University. And if we can do that and bring people together around the good that is going on at Baylor, about the changes that are taking place, we can work through any differences, and we can bring people together. We certainly need to do that to take full advantage of the opportunities that Baylor has ahead of her. 

What did you need to know in order to feel comfortable taking this position? 

I had some really in-depth conversations with both the search committee and then certainly with the Board of Regents, as well as with some individual Regents along the way and then even more recently with some of the administration at the University. I wanted to understand the issues that had been addressed, how they felt they were making progress on those, and what issues need to continue to be worked on in that process. We talked quite a bit about some of the investigations and lawsuits that Baylor is facing. So, I go into this with eyes wide open about some of those continuing challenges that we have to work through. 

I asked some questions about the commitment of the Regents to continue to work through these issues and ensure we get to the right place as a university. Beyond that, we talked about the commitment of the University to move to tier-one academic status, to really focus on excelling as an outstanding academic institution. How are we going to do that? How are we going to continue to support faculty to ensure their success? How do we move forward with regard to student life to ensure that we’re doing the right things to support students both inside and outside of the classroom? 

We certainly talked a lot about the specific issues that have gone on in the last 18 months, but we talked much, much more broadly about the mission of Baylor University and how we grow that — the academic trajectory of Baylor and how we ensure we continue to move forward to advance Baylor even beyond what the University is doing now that is making a huge difference in Texas and around the world.