For decades, Pearl Beverly, MSEd ’01, has been investing in the lives of young people in Waco and at Baylor. She has been heavily involved in helping Baylor recruit, retain and graduate minority students since 1988.
Beverly, who came to Baylor as a recruiter in the Graduate School, transitioned to the Division of Student Life in 1994. In 2005, she was named director of the newly created Department of Multicultural Affairs.
“The Baylor administration has committed to diversity by putting resources in place so that we can help expose all students to and educate them on the different cultures that they have encountered,” Beverly explains. “When you start creating folks for worldwide leadership, you have to expose them to all these different cultures because, if not, they will be very limited in their perception of what the world really looks like.”
She encourages students to celebrate their personal heritage and embrace the cultures of others through education, communication and involvement in the various student organizations, as well as helping with the presentation of cultural awareness programs on campus.
Beverly will quickly tell you that her parents and family were the first to pour into her life. Though her mom had limited education and her father had no formal education, he put the wheels in motion for Beverly’s path before his death by giving strong directions to Rosa Nell Walker, her sister.
“My father had my sister promise that she would make sure I went to college because none of my seven siblings had gone,” says Beverly, the baby of the family. “My dad was a very smart man who knew how to turn things around.”
After her father’s death, Beverly lived with Walker in Snyder, Texas, and graduated from Snyder’s Lincoln High School in 1965, as a member of the last class before the town’s schools were integrated.
She turned down an opportunity to play basketball at Wayland Baptist University to pursue becoming a teacher at Jarvis Christian College in Hawkins, Texas. Beverly became involved in many organizations at Jarvis, ultimately becoming student body president. Jarvis is also where she met and married her husband of 47 years, Hubert Beverly.
At Baylor, Beverly has been at the forefront of fostering a growing minority student population, seeing the percentage grow from 11 percent to 36 percent during her tenure. She believes that a “homegrown approach” can help Baylor faculty and staff diversity more closely mirror the student body.
“If you see an amazing student with a great GPA, why not explore the possibilities of that student coming back to work at Baylor in the future?” she asks.
Beverly is always happy to see the students who visit her office on the second floor of the Bill Daniel Student Center. She has found that building real relationships makes all the difference when it comes to helping students.
“Until students know that I actually care about their dreams and about them as individuals, what I know and how I can assist them does not matter. It’s so important for that level of respect to develop. I’ve fallen short so many times, and I know I can’t save them all, but there’s always so much more to be done,” she says.
“If I ever invite you in, close the door and tell you I’ve got you a bottle of orange juice, you’d better run,” laughs Beverly, who indicates a heart-to-heart conversation is imminent.
Beverly is a proud mother of two children, Damian Beverly and Dr. Doriann Beverly, BA ’99, MSCD ’01, but she also loves hundreds of her “other children,” students whom she says are working to make the world a better place.
Though she imparts plenty of wisdom to students, Beverly certainly listens to them as well. A conversation with a Baylor student in 1999 motivated her to earn a master’s degree at Baylor while working full-time. As Beverly heartily encouraged Daphne Carr Henderson, then a recent master’s level graduate, to pursue a doctoral degree, Henderson replied that Beverly did not have a master’s degree.
“I decided I’d never have another student say that to me,” Beverly says, “and the challenge I now put before them, is to do better. I have a master’s degree, so that means you have to get a PhD.”
Seeing students graduate is especially thrilling for Beverly.
“Each time I see a student graduate, it gives me energy,” she says, “and even more so when a new student arrives on campus and says one of our alumni sent them.”
Beverly has been the recipient of Baylor’s Outstanding Staff Award, Outstanding Woman of the Year by Zeta Phi Beta, The Pathfinder Award by YWCA, and the Champion of Race Unity Award by the Race Unity Committee, among many others. Her local civic activities include founding and directing Portraits Inc., where youths learn about black history through performance and service.
Through every step of her life, Beverly says her accomplishments are for God. She says, “Give God all the glory and praise.”