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Regents work toward gender, racial diversity

Nov. 21, 1997

Sloan says board will keep Baptist homogeneity

By Ashlee Ross

Staff Writer for The Baylor Lariat

With the elections of the Baylor Board of Regents members completed, university administration is looking to diversify the board while maintaining quality.

President Robert B. Sloan Jr. said quality is the most important factor in choosing regents.

'The first thing is you choose the most qualified person you can find,' Sloan said. 'Having said that, I think it's important within the total range of qualified people to look for as much diversity as we can.'

Sloan said the regent search committee looks for gender, ethnic and regional diversity.

'We have both diversity and homogeneity,' Sloan said. 'You want coherence at the point of commitment to the mission of Baylor. You want everybody on the same page there, on the same team. You want the diversity when it comes to different ideas, different perspectives, different life experiences being brought to the implementation of the central issue.'

Jaclanel McFarland, the second vice chairwoman of the board, said the regents may be lagging behind the student body in terms of diversity.

'It's obviously important just as we seek for diversity in the student body,' McFarland said.

McFarland is the first woman to hold a vice chair position on the board. Currently, there are six women on the board (five regents and one regent emeritus).

'I hope it sends a sign that since we're close to the 21st century, it's acceptable to have a woman in a leadership position,' McFarland said.

Sloan said although the board is looking to expand its geographic, gender and ethnic representation, the board will remain a Baptist board.

'I frankly do not see the board being anything other than a Baptist board,' Sloan said. 'Frankly, I hope it does remain a Baptist board. I think that is a rich part of our heritage, and it's important for institutions to maintain their historic diversity.'

Fred Cameron, chairman of the board, agreed with Sloan.

'I think this board is committed to remaining completely Baptist,' Cameron said. 'I don't see any immediate changes with that.'

Sloan said although it was once required that regents be Southern Baptists, that is no longer a requirement.

'We simply say that our board members must be Baptists which would be broader than the Southern Baptist Convention,' Sloan said. 'Also, since we have out-of-state board members, it's broader than the Baptist General Convention of Texas. We've enriched our ranks of Baptists.'

Because regents can serve three terms of three years in each term, regent turnover does not happen often.

'This year, we were only allowed to bring in four new regents,' Cameron said. 'That's not a great opportunity to diversify when you're bringing in those numbers.'

There are three Hispanics and one black on the board.

Chancellor Herbert H. Reynolds said the board looks for qualified, competent people who are committed to the mission of Baylor.

Reynolds said during his term as president, the board 'looked to try to find folks who have the capability to serve.'

Reynolds said this effort has continued to the current administration.

'I think there has definitely been an effort within the board to increase gender and ethnicity,' Reynolds said.

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