Diversity and Cultural Humility at Baylor University Initiative Progress Report: June 2017 through May 2018

May 4, 2018
Baylor’s School of Education-sponsored Children’s Defense Fund® Freedom School successfully launched, serving 50 rising 6th and 7th-grade students from the Waco Independent School District. The program serves to connect students and their families to their local communities, encourage family and community involvement, empower children through literacy and reduce summer learning loss. Freedom School will be expanded for summer 2018 to include 70 rising 6th, 7th and 8th graders.

Baylor’s Public Deliberation Initiative hosted a citywide Civic Life Summit that welcomed more than 70 people who joined in the conversation about “doing democracy differently,” engaging across differences and building civic capacity at Baylor and in Waco through enhancing civic literacy and civic habits. Baylor student leaders participated in the planning and coordination of the event.

Wide-ranging training across the Division of Student Life leadership focused on working closely with student leaders and organizations to cultivate cultural awareness and competency. A peer-facilitated training program, “Leave Your Mark,” will launch in fall 2018 with leaders of student organizations helping develop an understanding of cultural humility and shape plans that ensure cultural humility permeates their student organizations.

The Faculty of Color Alliance, established in spring 2017, continued to serve as an important voice in faculty initiatives. Members of the Alliance also serve as mentors for underrepresented faculty and contribute insights to University-wide initiatives, such as the recent Academic and Work Environment Survey.

Baylor joined the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD). The NCFDD (www.facultydiversity.org) is an independent professional development, training and mentoring community for faculty members, postdocs and graduate students dedicated to supporting academics in making successful transitions throughout their careers. Any faculty, researcher or graduate student at a member institution can access webinars on their 10-point core curriculum, monthly guest expert webinars on professional development and multi-week courses on tackling specific challenges in the Academy. In addition, they get priority registration for 14-Day Writing Challenges and can opt to receive a weekly motivational email.

Baylor joined Project MALES (Mentoring to Achieve Latino Educational Success) and Texas Education Consortium for Male Students of Color – both organizations focused on retention and graduation of male students of color across the continuum of education. Student Life will house this initiative in collaboration with the Student Success Center. This initiative will provide a hub of research and data, conference opportunities and support for male students of color. Future plans will connect Baylor students as mentors to Junior High and High School students of color in the Waco area.

This Matters, a platform for civic engagement connecting leaders from diverse perspectives to offer context to society’s most challenging questions, continued as an active group on campus promoting civic engagement and awareness.

Neighbor Nights (formerly Cross-Cultural Dinners) were held on campus every other Tuesday night to practice cultural and religious humility, foster encounters with cultural and religious diversity and facilitate exchange among students through sharing a meal and sharing stories as participants learned to be better neighbors.

Twenty-nine episodes of The Good Neighbear podcast have launched since August 2017 to share stories of hope and healing. From personal stories of students to the stories of faculty and staff across campus, these podcasts remind us that each person is an important part of the diverse Baylor community.

In partnership with the Poage Library, Better Together BU Interfaith Advocates have worked to establish an Interfaith Reading Room. This room serves as a space for students of all religious identities to gather for Better Together BU meetings, trainings and storysharing.

Baylor Public Deliberation Initiative and Better Together BU developed a Staff/Faculty Associates and Faculty Fellows program to bring more civic, intercultural and religious diversity into Student Life programs and into the classroom.

The Bias Response Team was formed and will serve a proactive role in response to incidents identified through the Report It! online system. The Team actively connects individuals who experience bias-motivated acts to appropriate resources and response measures.

The McNair Scholars Program is operational. A coordinator and interim director held information sessions to recruit students to begin immediately with training and workshops. The McNair office is located in the lower level of the east wing of the Success Center inside Sid Richardson. In the spring, the McNair Scholars Program inducted its inaugural class of 24 scholars, who are committed to attending graduate school after they graduate from Baylor. While in the program, the McNair Scholars will have scholarly and research experiences, academic counseling, mentoring relationships with faculty, professional conference opportunities and assistance with graduate school applications.

Baylor was named in the Nov/Dec issue of Latino Leaders Magazine as one of the “Best Colleges for Latinos” for the second year in a row. According to the publication, universities listed “have exceeded traditional practices and continue to provide Latino students with helpful guidance and support to pursue their career aspirations.”

A full-time First in Line program manager began in May 2017 to plan and execute sustained support for first-generation college students at Baylor. The Office provides advising and mentorship, educational programs and leadership opportunities and advises the First in Line Student Society. In fall 2017, 16.9 percent of the overall undergraduate population were first-generation students.

In November 2017, Baylor initiated an Opportunity Hiring program to identify and appoint faculty who have achieved national and international distinction as researchers and teachers and reflect the rich diversity of our student body and surrounding community.

A food pantry was opened on Baylor’s campus to serve students in need. The Store, Baylor’s new food pantry, is shaped around efforts to destigmatize food insecurity and meet student needs, while also allowing students to remain anonymous if they choose. Located in Sid Richardson 047, the pantry supports efforts to provide students the strongest likelihood of achieving academic success.

Transfer Student Success (TSS) and Baylor VETS organized the first-ever Adult Learner Lunch geared toward undergraduate students at least 24 years old. With long commute times, family responsibilities and regularly feeling as though “no one else at Baylor is like me,” these adult learners face obstacles that 18 to 22-year-old college students rarely face. This event was followed by a weekly “Adult Learner Brown Bag Lunch,” where adult learners were encouraged to socialize and connect with one another.

A Transfer Student Success Graduate Apprentice, was hired to implement a pilot peer mentor program. The success of this pilot program has led TSS to expand this program to all new transfer students during the 2018-2019 academic year. These efforts and others have led to an increase in fall-to-fall transfer student retention.

Results of the 2017 campus-wide Academic and Work Environment Survey were released in December 2017 to the campus community. This was the first survey of its kind at Baylor and will provide a baseline of perceptions on diversity by Baylor faculty, staff and students. Results are shaping collaborative initiatives that affect change in areas identified through the survey.

In commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a new course titled “The Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.” (PPS 4V98) was added to the curriculum. The course included participation in the 2018 Spring Break bus tour of civil rights sites associated with King’s leadership in the 1950s and 1960s, such as Montgomery and Selma, Alabama; Memphis, Tennessee; and Little Rock, Arkansas. In addition, the University hosted an uplifting service of remembrance in partnership with community leaders and area churches on the anniversary of Dr. King’s death.

Through a grant from the Interfaith Youth Core, Baylor Spiritual Life and Multicultural Affairs hosted Baylor’s first Southwest Region Interfaith Leadership Lab, “Religare: Stories of Hope and Inter(active)-Faith,” an opportunity for storysharing, engaging in civic and interfaith literacy and exploring religious identity as it relates to cultural and religious humility.

Baylor announced a new Civil Rights Policy for students in February 2018 and for faculty and staff in January 2018. The policy outlines Baylor’s commitment to maintaining an environment in which all students, faculty and staff are treated with respect and dignity, equal opportunities are promoted and discriminatory practices, including unlawful discrimination, are prohibited. In addition, the University launched an active search for an Associate Vice President of Equity.

Baylor’s Black Student Union officers hosted the Big 12 Black Student Government conference on Baylor’s campus in spring 2018. Student leaders of the Black Student Union have been planning this event for over a year and welcomed leaders from across the Big 12 to discuss issues facing African-American student government organizations and students on college campuses.

The Xavier University Exchange Program continues with two Baylor students traveling to Xavier for classes in the spring semester. In fall 2018, we anticipate two Xavier students will join Baylor as part of the exchange. During the spring 2018 semester, Baylor faculty and staff actively recruited participants on Xavier campus to spur growth in the program.

In spring 2018, Baylor held its inaugural Festival Latino, where forums, cultural celebrations and a Latino Alumni gathering took place. Students participated in panels made up of business, political and educational leaders. The Hispanic Student Association (HAS) hosted a Parranda, which included foods, exhibits, dances and art representing Latino countries around the world. The Festival Latino culminated with the Alumni panel and luncheon for returning alumni and current students. HSA also was honored as Student Organization of the Year at the 2018 Excellence in Student Leadership Awards.
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