Baylor University

David Garland: A Job Well Done

May 3, 2010

By Randy Fiedler

The launch of a major research park funded collectively by state and city government and local higher education institutions, the success of two community-wide summits on education, the completion of five significant building projects and receipt of the largest financial gift commitment ever recorded in University history -- all while improving relationships with faculty, staff, students and community leaders. That's not a bad legacy for any university's chief executive -- especially one serving in a temporary capacity.

As Baylor Interim President David Garland prepares for the arrival of the University's 14th president, Judge Ken Starr, and his own eagerly awaited return to Truett Seminary, colleagues from across campus are praising Garland's service as chief executive.

Dr. Garland and his wife, Dr. Diana R. Garland, dean of the Baylor School of Social Work, both joined the Baylor faculty from faculty posts at Southern Seminary in 1997. David Garland became Truett's associate dean in 2001 and succeeded Paul Powell as seminary dean in 2007. One year later, Garland was called to serve as interim president by Baylor Regents.

"David Garland was the perfect choice to lead us through this transition period," Dr. Elizabeth B. Davis, interim provost, said. "Critical to his success and to the progress we have made under his leadership is his ability to understand the needs of Baylor stakeholders, his willingness to listen and his courage to then make decisions that are in the best interest of Baylor."

"David stepped into the breach and was willing to help Baylor during a difficult time," Dr. J. Larry Lyon, dean of the Graduate School, said. "He led with honesty, humility and even humor, and is leaving Baylor a better university than when he assumed leadership."

Dr. Terry S. Maness, dean of the Hankamer School of Business, agreed that Garland has been very successful in bringing people together.

"From his experience as dean, he brought a fresh perspective to the President's Office and began to mend fences with a variety of constituencies," Maness said. "It is to his credit that even in an interim position, he continued to push forward and advance Baylor on a number of fronts."

Dr. Lee C. Nordt, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, said Garland early on began making decisions that he believed would best advance the goals of a unified Baylor.

"David knew the importance of moving Baylor forward in the context of the University vision, while at the same time needing to bring the faculty together," Nordt said. "He has been successful in paving the way for the next generation."

In his more than 21 months as interim president, Garland has worked closely with deans and executive leadership to oversee a number of new initiatives and improvements across campus. Among these was the creation of the Central Texas Technology and Research Park and the park's first project, the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC), to be housed in the former General Tire facility in Waco. The new facility will provide graduate research space for the Baylor School of Engineering and Computer Science and for select Baylor interdisciplinary research centers and institutes.

"Under David's leadership, the University has launched initiatives that not only were bold, but that also will influence the University's course over the decades to come," said Dr. Benjamin S. Kelley, dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science.

"As the details of the Central Texas Technology and Research Park and the BRIC began to take shape, David was a tireless advocate for the University's interests," Charlie Beckenhauer, University general counsel, said. "He masterfully balanced the varied interests of government, community, higher education generally, Baylor faculty and students and the mandates of the University's mission and Baylor 2012."

BRIC was just one project that strengthened the relationship between Baylor and the Greater Waco community. Baylor's participation and leadership in two education summits as well as community outreach and support for Waco Chamber initiatives have enhanced the Baylor-Waco partnership.

"David has given so many talks to community groups during this period. He puts everyone at ease," Dr. Karla K. Leeper, who served Garland as his chief of staff, said. "Even if something wasn't quite right, he put everyone at ease by laughing at himself or making us laugh at ourselves with him. He makes everyone he meets feel appreciated and important to Baylor."

"David Garland has been a champion for the University in its role serving the city of Waco," John M. Barry, vice president for marketing and communications, said. "His good humor and sharp mind have enlivened our discussions on the Executive Council and helped to keep us focused and moving forward on the challenges and opportunities before us."

During Garland's administration, Baylor posted two record fall enrollments in 2008 and 2009. The increases encompassed record enrollments in the Graduate School and Truett Seminary, while minority student enrollment reached a record 31 percent in fall 2009.

"David has a remarkably genuine and caring spirit that has added to the calm of the campus. He has been an encouraging, active participant in our efforts to engage prospective students -- talking with groups on campus and supporting new and innovative programs to reach students of higher ability," Dr. Reagan M. Ramsower, vice president for finance and administration, said.

Garland's love for and commitment to the student experience has been witnessed across campus.

"David is an able scholar and teacher, and he has never been confused about the chief task of the university," Dr. Thomas S. Hibbs, dean of the Honors College, said. "Amid all the tasks that now fall to universities to perform, the one task that only universities can perform is the opening and formation of young minds. In his own gentle way, David Garland reminded us of this."

"Dr. Garland has been a great leader for Baylor," Student Body President Jordan Hannah said. "He has always been an advocate for students' interests and he listens intently to every student he speaks to. The student body is grateful for his service."

"Some of my favorite first-year memories at Baylor will be of David interacting with students in one-on-one and small group settings." Dr. Kevin P. Jackson, vice president for student life, said. "Whether offering a word of advice or providing an enduring smile of encouragement, the students always knew that he cared for them and had their best interests at heart."

In the past two years, Garland has presided at the dedication of important new campus facilities, including the McMullen-Connally Faculty Center and the Alwin O. and Dorothy Highers Athletics Complex, which includes both the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center and the Jay and Jenny Allison Indoor Football Practice Facility. Other facilities projects begun during his administration include the construction of the Getterman Softball Practice Facility, the renovation of the Baylor Tennis Center and the naming of the Hurd Tennis Building.

Fundraising has been one of Garland's priorities as president, and University development officials have praised his talent for reaching donors with the Baylor message.

"It's been a pleasure working with Dr. Garland in every way," Dr. Dennis A. Prescott, vice president for University development, said. "It's very important that donors and prospective donors have access to the president, and Dr. Garland has been completely accessible. I've been extremely impressed with his ability to make people feel at ease and valued."

Baylor recorded the largest single gift in its history during Garland's presidency with the announcement in March 2010 that an anonymous donor had pledged an estate estimated in the $200 million range, one of the 20 largest private gifts ever made to an American institution of higher learning.

Baylor athletics also have posted historic achievements during Garland's tenure, with multiple sports competing in postseason play and record setting achievement by student athletes in the classroom.

"I am grateful for Dr. Garland's strong and loyal support of Baylor athletics," Ian McCaw, director of athletics, said. "Not coincidently, his term as interim president corresponded with our most successful era."

One of Garland's goals as president was to strengthen trust and cooperation between the administration and Baylor faculty. Dr. Dennis R. Myers, chair of Faculty Senate, said Garland has been a positive force in improving relations.

"We have enjoyed a season of growth and relative calm during the presidency of David Garland," Myers said. "Under his administration, the Faculty Senate has been meaningfully involved in decisions that affect the curriculum and academic life at Baylor."

Dr. Jon M. Engelhardt, dean of the School of Education, added, "David Garland's thoughtfulness, care, optimism and faithfulness have exemplified the history and tradition of Baylor at just the time when Baylor needed this type of leadership."

What has impressed many colleagues during Garland's presidency is his leadership style.

"Staff Council members have seen Dr. Garland's kindness show in everything he does and says," Staff Council Chair Patricia Pack said. "He is truly a great leader in every sense of the word."

"Dr. Garland is a person of high integrity, and his caring for others and great love for Baylor earned him the trust and respect of everyone," Juan Alejandro, director of internal audit and management analysis, said.

"During this time of transition, Baylor needed a servant leader with the gifts of discernment, empathy and gratitude," Brad Toben, dean of the School of Law, said. "David is blessed in full measure with each of these attributes of mind and heart and has been a superb steward as our leader."

Pattie Orr, vice president for information technology and dean of University libraries, said Garland's brand of servant leadership was apparent in his dealings with faculty and staff.

"David has always been willing to attend receptions, dinners, athletic events, lectures, book signings, and more. This has meant long hours for him, but it showed all of us that he valued every part of our campus," Orr said.

Asked about his predecessor in an interview with Christianity Today in March 2010, Baylor president-elect Ken Starr praised Garland's leadership.

"My sense is that there's been an enormous amount of energy and enthusiasm in the last year and a half during the stewardship of...David Garland," Starr said. "David is a great man; he is a great scholar and has been a truly great leader of the institution. That has been enormously helpful, opening up a new chapter that has a great deal of promise."

Looking for an older article? Visit our archives.