Ad Unitatem: Toward Unity

June 28, 2021
Ad Unitatem

Message from the Special Advisor to the President for Equity and Campus Engagement, Malcolm B. Foley

Opportunities to Love

We have reached the summer months, months that offer a bit of respite from the productive, yet sometimes grinding school year. This is a time to breathe, to recalibrate and to rest. The Sabbath was instituted among the people of Israel not merely as a weekly period of rest but as a period of worship: a time to remember that the God who sustained His chosen people in the midst of their toil and freed them from slavery was the God who upheld the world. As we rest and prepare for the year to come, let us all consider our commitment to diversity and equity.

I have said before that this work requires all of us. It requires all of us because this is not a pragmatic or mercenary commitment: it is a moral one. Equity is a matter of justice, of making sure every member of our community is treated fairly and receives the resources necessary to do their work well. Thus, we must be willing to hold one another accountable, willing to stand up for one another and willing to continually educate ourselves about the challenges so many in the Baylor Family face.

This is, in part, how we continue to be obedient to the Second Great Commandment: to love our neighbor as ourselves. Martin Luther King wove these things together well when he stated, “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”

Our commitment to continuous education when it comes to issues of racial and gender justice and support for veterans and for our siblings and neighbors with disabilities flows from our mission as a University. As followers of Christ, we are stewards of His creation and cultivators of His image. May those commitments find an anchor in your soul this summer.

Q&A with Faith Perkins, Assistant Vice President for Talent Development

In April, we took a look at some of the work happening among faculty contributing to the construction of a just and equitable culture at Baylor. This month, we are spotlighting some of that work among Baylor’s staff. A full Q&A with Faith Perkins may be found on the Diversity and Inclusion website.

Q: First of all, Faith, what is your role at the University?

When I go to career day at my son’s school, I describe my role as “helping great people get even better at their jobs.” More officially, I work with the HR teams that manage talent acquisition, learning and development and the HR associates that serve as Baylor’s HR Service Center. These groups work in partnership with other areas of HR to provide fulfilling work and needed support from the minute someone applies for a job at Baylor through the full life cycle of their career.

Q: As I emphasized with Dr. Lori Baker a few months ago, it is abundantly clear that in order to build a just and equitable culture at Baylor, we need to invest particularly in those who have been historically marginalized in our midst. I think particularly of women, racial and ethnic minorities, veterans and others. What are some ways that you support these staff?

Working with others to create frameworks that effectively support diversity and belonging across campus is of highest importance to Baylor’s HR team, and we actively seek ways to add depth and breadth to our outreach efforts. Ultimately, bringing together different perspectives helps us understand one another and work together in richer ways and creates a sense of belonging. Work in the space of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) isn’t a box to check as “complete.” It’s a continuous process of listening and focus, trial and error, retooling and then doing it again. That happens across every facet of work in HR.

Our talent acquisition professionals work with hiring managers on searches to ensure that we are casting a wide net for candidates in the best possible way. While COVID-19 has changed some of the broad outreach work that has been a routine part of developing our candidate pools for years, it hasn’t deterred the team from seeking out new avenues.

With learning and development work, there is a constant focus on finding touchpoints that help to support diverse perspectives. From including bias awareness in routine training for managers as they prepared to write and deliver performance reviews this year to offering self-study options with hundreds of learning options through LinkedIn, meaningful learning is at your fingertips on our campus in many areas, including diversity.

Q:  Culture change only happens with the shifting of people, policies and processes. What might that work look like among Baylor’s staff members?

The HR team has strong partnerships with key groups on campus that help us to keep conversation going. In addition to Baylor’s Equity office, the Staff Council, the Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA) and the HR Advisory Committee are just a few examples of the partnerships on which we rely to make informed decisions and assess potential for change. Each group serves as a sounding board and conduit to help inform future work.

Q: How can the Baylor community partner with you in your work?

Stay aware and be involved. As a staff member myself, I find resources and tools that inform and enrich from multiple places across campus and in our neighboring communities. HR communicates internal programs and training offerings on a routine basis through the BU@Work email every other Tuesday, and you can frequently find resources to help grow diverse perspectives. You can also browse current offerings in the “Learning” tab within Ignite.

End note: For more information on program offerings through Baylor Human Resources or to connect with your HR Consultant or other members of the HR team, visit us online, or contact the Baylor HR Service Center at askhr@baylor.edu or at (254)710-2000. Faith Perkins can be reached at faith_perkins@baylor.edu.

Continuous Improvement

Baylor University continues to implement a variety of initiatives designed to create a more equitable and compassionate campus. It’s a demonstration of the University’s commitment to making continuous improvements in all areas of Baylor’s operations and institutional programming as we seek to become the preeminent Christian research university.

  • In continuing to build a faculty that reflects our diverse student body, Baylor has conducted a series of Campus Diversity Climate Surveys, beginning in 2017 and concluding in Fall 2020, to measure the perceptions of our faculty, staff, and students regarding the inclusiveness, friendliness, cooperation, support and opportunities for career advancement and academic success found at Baylor. The compiled results of this initiative are available at Campus Diversity Climate Surveys.

  • In May, Baylor celebrated its inaugural Champions of Change. The new program recognizes and acknowledges the accomplishments of faculty, staff and alumni who have demonstrated a commitment to fostering greater appreciation and advancement of diversity, inclusiveness and equity for communities of color at Baylor and in Waco. During the spring semester, a diverse and representative volunteer advisory committee sought nominations and ultimately chose the following individuals to honor:
    • Alumna Elizabeth D. Palacios, Ph.D., dean for student development, Division of Student Life
    • Faculty member Lakia M. Scott, Ph.D., assistant professor of curriculum and instruction, School of Education
    • Staff member Dominque Hill, Ed.D., director of wellness, Division of Student Life

    In addition to an engraved plaque, the inaugural Champions of Change will be recognized on a  Champions of Change recognition installation at a future public space on campus dedicated to honoring cultural wealth at Baylor.

  • A research team including Baylor’s Kevin D. Dougherty, associate professor of sociology, recently received the support of a $1 million grant from the Lilly Endowment. The team will help establish Churches that THRIVE for Racial Justice, a national effort to help congregations confront structures of racism in their communities. Churches that THRIVE for Racial Justice is a five-year collaboration that will connect three sociologists who study race and religion with a cohort of 25 churches affiliated with the Alliance of Baptists in the United States. These THRIVE congregations will actively confront structures of racism to remove a crucial obstacle to thriving, one that spiritually and materially affects people of color in the United States.
  • Are you looking for more Diversity Updates?

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