WACO, Texas (KWTX) Dr. Linda Livingstone stopped by the KWTX studio to talk about everything from her basketball career, to her family's extreme height, why she took the job at Baylor and how she hopes to move the university past the school's sexual assault scandal.
"We've been away for 15 years, but we spent 11 years here early in my academic career and just loved the community and the university," Livingstone told Julie Hays on "Midday with Julie" Friday.
Livingstone was named the school's 15th president in April, the first female president in its history, following the sexual assault scandal which led to the firing of head football coach Art Briles, resignation of athletic director Ian McCaw and demotion and eventual resignation of president Judge Ken Starr.
Livingstone said despite the tough circumstances she was returning to following the scandal that led to multiple Title IX lawsuits against the university as well as the formation of an alumni reform group called Bears for Leadership Reform, she never hesitated in accepting the job.
"I have been here before. I knew the university. I knew a lot of people here," Livingstone said. "So I knew at the heart and soul what the university is about and what it stood for and I viewed it as an opportunity to come back to a place that I loved and has a mission that I deeply believe in and really help it move past a very difficult time and take advantage of the things that are really wonderful about Baylor and get it to a better place."
Last week, Livingstone attended her first regents meeting since taking over as president. In Starr's latest Book, "Bear Country" Livingstone's predecessor wrote of having a difficult time acting as university president at times because of interference from the university's board of regents. Those governance issues were highlighted in the 13-page "Finding of Fact" released by Pepper Hamilton and led to the board adopting new by-laws in February based on recommendations by a special independent Governance Review Task Force.
Livingstone said the recent changes implemented in the board structure are helping administration and board members understand the importance of "staying in their lanes."
"It was the first meeting since the governance changes that they've begun to implement. So it's led to a different structure of the meeting, " Livingstone said.
"So I have to say that the board has been very willing to work with me. Very appropriately knowing what their role is and what my role as the president is of the institution."
Livingstone said the university is focused on carrying out the 105 recommendations from Pepper Hamilton the school has implemented, while also moving the university mission forward.
"We're clearly going to continue to make progress on this issues from the past that have to continue to be addressed, but we're really going to put our time and energy and attention on supporting our students, supporting the academic enterprise and moving our academic mission forward ."
Livingstone said she's spent the first months of her presidency getting to know the alumni base and mostly listening. She said despite a difference in opinion, there is common ground she's found and that's a love for the university.
"One of the things I've discovered that I think is very important is that at the core everyone really loves the university," Livingstone said. "They care deeply about the university and they want the university to be successful."
Not only is Livingstone the first female president in the school's 172 year history, Baylor officials also tell KWTX they believe she is the only Division 1 female basketball player to become a university president.
Livingstone played basketball for Oklahoma State from 1978-1982.
"I'm so old that I actually played when they played 6 on 6 still, so it's a little embarrassing to admit that," Livingstone laughed. "But then went on to Oklahoma State where they played traditional 5 on 5 there."
Livingstone joked that her 6 foot height left her a forward in her career, but would now-a-days leave her more likely a point guard.
She said Lady Bears head coach Kim Mulkey recently saw a picture of Livingstone's playing days at Oklahoma State and texted her about her vertical, she admits was a little challenged.
"I think i was going up for a layup," Livingstone said. "I tried to convince her that I pushed off that leg that was still on the ground and got a little air and lift on that layup. But jumping was clearly not what I was best at on the basketball court."
Athleticism and height runs in the Livingstone family. Her daughter, Shelby is 6'3 and plays volleyball at Rice University. Her husband, Brad, also played basketball at Oklahoma State and is 6'10. She said he is so tall, the famous Allbritton House, which houses the university's presidents, has undergone some construction just so Brad can fit through the old door frames.
"The doorways when we went in hit him just right above the eyes. So they were very gracious to raise some of the door headers," Livingstone laughed.
The president and her family will officially move into the Allbritton House next week, higher door frames and all, and when they do, the new leader of the University said she's excited for what's to come.
"We are excited about the future of Baylor and all that's going to happen," Livingstone said. "Just really privileged to have the opportunity to be back here."