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BU hires new directorof human relations

Nov. 4, 1999

Director to handle diversity issues

By JOHN DRAKE

Staff Writer

After Baylor announced that it was hiring a new director of human relations, the search committee received about 80 applications

from across the nation. In the end, the committee pulled from its own backyard a corrections officer and certified probation officer with no prior experience in university administration.

Marilyn Crone, vice president of human resources, said she first heard about Ramona Curtis when Enid Wade, a Waco attorney, told her he knew someone who would be perfect for the position. Crone said she originally thought Curtis' criminal justice background was not a likely fit for the position.

'But,' Wade told her, 'you don't know Ramona.'

Although the 38-year-old's employment background is almost strictly in criminal justice, her relevant experience is related to improving diversity and understanding between ethnic groups.

The primary responsibility of this new position is to oversee the fulfilling of Baylor's diversity initiatives. A diversity task force was created two years ago for the purpose of determining these initiatives--one of which was the creation of this full-time position.

Curtis said she was willing to move to a university setting because the position dealt with diversity.

'I love dealing with diversity issues and to be able to do that full time is wonderful,' she said.

Before accepting the position at Baylor, Curtis served as the director of the McLennan County Restitution Center for four years. She has spent time as a community corrections officer, vocational coordinator, and as a substitute teacher and instructional aide. She is a certified staff trainer, licensed chemical dependency counselor and a certified adult probation officer.

'I was impressed with her resume,' said William James, a Waco junior and one of four students on the selection committee. 'When she was not speaking, it was like she was a sponge, soaking up information. When she spoke, she spoke with a lot of authority.

'I'm hoping she'll be able to bridge the gap between the cultures that exist on this campus.'

Jaffus Hardrick, assistant director of personnel services in the AA/EEO office served as interim director of human relations while the university sought someone permanently. He was also on the search committee.

'I think she is someone who is bringing balance,' he said. 'She will be able to articulate her vision in such a manner that it includes all ethnicities.'

One person with whom Curtis will be working closely is Pearl Beverly, coordinator of multicultural activities. While both will deal directly with diversity issues, Curtis will primarily work with faculty and staff members, while Beverly's focus is on students.

'I didn't feel like I was meeting a stranger when I met her,' Beverly said. 'She is very approachable.'

Curtis, a member of Delta Sigma Theta, is in the process of meeting with not only faculty members, but also representatives of multicultural student organizations. Curtis will assist Beverly in working with these organizations.

'It does not matter what organization you are in as long as you love and respect others,' she said.

Beverly said Curtis' experiences will bring visibility to Baylor.

'The experience that she has had conducting workshops should make her an asset to Baylor since she will be in great demand not only locally but state-wide,' Beverly said.

Curtis said in order to devote more time to her new position, she will be resigning her state-level responsibilities. She is currently vice president of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Community Supervision.

'I'm just waiting on my letterheads so I can write my resignation letters.'

She said she will have to make decisions about which of her local positions to resign from.

Curtis said the foundation has already been laid for what she plans to accomplish.

'Baylor is alive,' she said. 'I hope we can only strengthen what's been laid out so far.'