Leaders of Campus Diversity Initiatives Report Progress
WACO, Texas (May 19, 2017) – As Baylor University continues to pursue an environment that exhibits cultural humility and inclusion, the work of two groups is making an impact. For the past 18 months, a Special Assistant to the University President and the 15-member President’s Advisory Council on Diversity (PACD) have been working across the University to build programs, complete agreements and organize initiatives that provide an environment of acceptance and support for students, faculty and staff from diverse backgrounds.
Special Assistant Liz Palacios and PACD Chair Lori Baker recently provided Baylor’s Interim President David Garland a report of their progress. In addition to establishing official affinity groups for black students, Latin students and Asian students on Baylor’s campus, the teams have worked to implement a domestic exchange program with Xavier University of Louisiana, an Historically Black University. The first Baylor student spent the spring 2017 semester in New Orleans attending Xavier.
During this academic year, a wide range of diverse speakers, artists and musicians have been a part of student life. Dr. Lester Newman joined students, faculty, staff and community leaders for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Luncheon and Ayasah Shabazz headlined the 30th Annual Black Heritage Banquet. Recording artist Aloe Blacc entertained the crowd as the finale of this year’s Traditions Rally. The University supported celebrations of Black History Month, Gateway to India (a showcase presented by the Indian Subcontinent Student Association), Women’s History Month and monthly cross-cultural engagement events.
“Our work on diversity initiatives has been informed and impacted by our interactions with students. Without their ideas and input into events, speakers and activities that are meaningful to them, we could not have been successful in moving so many initiatives forward,” explained Palacios. “Our work is just getting started and we have a tremendous group of students, faculty and staff who will help us continue our momentum.”
The diversity of faculty and staff is equally important to this progress. In addition to establishing a Faculty of Color Alliance and incorporating the Bias-Motivated Incident Support Team more thoroughly into the diversity initiatives, a successful opportunity hiring program has launched, bringing diverse academic leaders to our faculty ranks. The University has submitted an application for the McNair Scholars program and a comprehensive campus-wide Academic and Work Environment Survey was fielded during the spring 2017 semester.
“We were thrilled with the response to the Academic and Work Environment Survey. Our participation numbers far surpassed those of other benchmark universities,” said Baker. “We look forward to receiving the results from the third-party research group to help us set new goals for important initiatives.”
A complete summary of progress can be found here.
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.