Regents Unanimously Decline Call For Faculty Referendum; Motion To Vote On President's Resignation Rejected

News Photo 2199
Will D. Davis, chair of the Baylor Board of Regents
Sept. 24, 2004

by Larry D. Brumley


Today's news conference with Board of Regents Chair Will D. Davis is available via streaming video on BaylorTV.com.

The Baylor University Board of Regents on Friday voted unanimously to decline a request by the university's Faculty Senate to conduct a faculty referendum on President Robert B. Sloan Jr.'s leadership. The board also elected not to take a vote on Sloan's status as president.

In other action, the board granted independent status to the School of Social Work and authorized the addition of women's equestrian as the school's 18th varsity team sport. Both actions are effective with the 2005-06 academic year.

The Baylor School of Social Work was established in 1999 when the university began offering the master of social work degree and the program was moved from within the department of sociology, anthropology, social work and gerontology to become a separate department in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Over the ensuing five years, the School has rapidly risen to national prominence for conducting research that informs professional knowledge and skills for addressing religion and spirituality in social work practice. Last spring, the School broke into the top 100 graduate social work programs in the country with a No. 87 ranking in the annual U.S.News and World Report Best Graduate Schools edition.

Under the leadership of Dr. Diana Garland, the faculty has grown from five full-time professors and lecturers to a full-time faculty of 15. Graduate student enrollment in the program has increased from 17 to 65 and undergraduate enrollment has grown 24 percent to 105 students. External funding for research has almost doubled to $1.3 million annually.

"Professional programs have traditionally been at the heart of Baylor's institutional strength, Baptist character and Christian mission. The School of Social Work under Diana Garland has shown exemplary leadership in providing an integrated model for effective teaching, service and scholarship with a Christian purpose and character," said Baylor Provost David L. Jeffrey.

"By becoming an independent school within the university, this program takes its place with national leaders in the field, among whom Baylor's School of Social Work may be expected to show competitive excellence as well as a distinctive mission," he said.

The Board of Regents has directed Baylor's NCAA Division I-A intercollegiate athletics program to add women's equestrian as part of its on-going commitment to Title IX compliance.

"Today's resolution by the Baylor Board of Regents builds upon the institution's history and continuing practice of program expansion for women's athletics and its strong commitment to Title IX compliance," said Regent Chairman Will Davis.

The addition of women's equestrian, coupled with two other elements of a resolution approved Friday by the Regents, is expected to achieve substantial proportionality with respect to the male/female ratio of student-athletes in comparison to its male/female ratio of undergraduate students.

The Baylor athletics department, which was determined in 1999 by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights to be compliant with Title IX after the addition of softball and women's soccer three years earlier, has also been directed by the Board of Regents to implement a roster management program for the 2005-06 academic year. As part of its roster management plan, Baylor will cap the number of students participating in select men's intercollegiate athletic programs beginning next year. Further, the Regents directed the athletics department to announce an 11th women's intercollegiate athletics program in the 2009-2010 academic year that will begin competition in the following academic year.

"After examination of the relevant factors, it is clear that Baylor University and its students will be very well served with the addition of women's equestrian," said second-year Director of Athletics Ian McCaw. "Equestrian is experiencing strong growth, not only on a regional and national level, but within the Big 12 Conference. The State of Texas will provide strong feeder programs as we develop this program in the coming years."

Women's equestrian was selected by Baylor in large part based on the significant interest in the sport as reflected by the participation numbers in various organizations, not only in Texas (which is home to 81.7 percent of the Baylor student body), but nationally, too. In addition, equestrian was selected based on the school's ability to become nationally competitive in the sport; the sport's status as an emerging sport within the NCAA and its growth in the Big 12 Conference and Texas.

Currently, 36 institutions sponsor women's equestrian as a varsity sport, including 13 at the Division I level, and the NCAA allows for a scholarship limit of 15. Big 12 institutions that sponsor women's equestrian are Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Kansas State, and all three programs have between 60 and 82 student-athletes on their teams. Baylor becomes the third Big 12 Conference member to add equestrian since 1999.

Baylor currently sponsors 17 intercollegiate athletics teams, nine for women and eight for men, and women's equestrian will be the school's 10th women's varsity program added since Title IX became a federal law in 1972. The school has not added to its current roster of men's varsity sports since 1921 when it added men's golf.

McCaw said a search for a qualified head coach for the women's equestrian program would begin immediately.

Looking for more news from Baylor University?