Baylor University Names Special Assistant to the President on Diversity and Announces Regents Task Force on Diversity

April 11, 2016
Elizabeth PalaciosDr. Elizabeth Palacios, dean for student development in the Division of Student Life, has been appointed special assistant to the President on diversity.

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WACO, Texas (April 11, 2016) – Baylor University President and Chancellor Ken Starr today announced the appointment of Elizabeth Palacios, Ph.D., dean for student development in the Division of Student Life and a Baylor faculty member, to the post of special assistant to the President on diversity. With 35 years in higher education, Dr. Palacios has been instrumental in collaborating with students, faculty, staff and the community on a variety of diversity-related advancements. While she will continue her responsibilities as dean, she will begin immediately to devote a portion of her time to this additional role and will work closely with the President and the President’s Advisory Council on Diversity (PACD) as progress continues in this important area.

“We are delighted that Dr. Palacios has agreed to provide her expertise through this important role. We welcome her vast experience in helping our students, faculty and staff embrace the diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds that make up the fabric of our campus community,” said President Starr. “Her deep understanding of and warm partnership with students will be especially important as we implement a wide range of programs and initiatives central to greater cultural awareness and competency.”

Additionally, the University announced the creation of a Regents Task Force on Diversity that will be comprised of four outstanding former members of Baylor’s Board of Regents, each with distinct perspectives on the importance of diversity. Task Force members Albert Black, Ramiro Peña, Donell Teaff and Regent Emerita Sue Getterman will work to gain a better understanding of the issues and environment at Baylor and to deepen the dialogue with University administration on how to better support initiatives to increase diversity among students, faculty and staff. The Task Force will report to the Board and begin campus meetings immediately. A full report of their findings will be provided to the Board at their July retreat.

“The Board of Regents is incredibly grateful to these former Regents for their willingness to commit their time to better understanding the campus conversations about diversity and inclusiveness,” said Richard Willis, chair of the Baylor Board of Regents. “The work of this group will help the Board learn more about ways we can support the administration and offer resources that move Baylor forward.”

Baylor is committed to building a community of respect, character, cultural literacy and leadership. In addition to the PACD’s focus on understanding the diverse perspectives of faculty, staff and students and developing long-term strategic recommendations, the University will continue to implement immediate improvements central to its Christian mission.

Dr. Palacios will begin immediately to review existing processes for identifying and responding to acts inconsistent with the University’s caring, Christian community; to establish additional opportunities for students to engage in culturally significant experiences such as the Civil Rights Tour; and to identify and cultivate students who illustrate an interest in and passion for teaching and research within a higher education environment. Dr. Palacios also will encourage the continuation and further development of a variety of recent initiatives:

  • Speakers and performers of multicultural backgrounds, such as those who have recently been welcomed to campus: musical artist Lecrae, civil rights legend Dr. C.T. Vivian, Equal Justice Initiative founder Bryan Stevenson, author Katherine Bassard, inspirational speaker Jordan Burham, Robert Morris University President Chris Howard and social commentator Beverly Gooden.
  • The University’s active pursuit of the creation of an exchange program with prominent Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). The exchange program, informed by the interests of current students, will promptly identify opportunities for partnerships and student enrichment.
  • Multicultural student recruitment efforts that have led to translating recruitment materials into Spanish; partnering with multicultural organizations and the Campus Diversity Committee to educate recruitment staff and host prospective students on campus; and establishing the First in Line program to support the needs of first-generation college students, many of whom come from diverse backgrounds.
  • Increased funding for culturally based campus programs and initiatives, as well as for intercultural education and activities planned by student organizations that have enhanced opportunities to better understand and embrace diversity.
  • A campus climate survey to inform continuous improvements within the campus community.
  • Cultural competency training opportunities that are being researched to facilitate a deeper understanding and awareness among faculty, staff and students.

“Many of the ideas that have been implemented or are on the verge of implementation were drawn out of our conversations with students,” said Kevin Jackson, Ph.D., vice president for student life. “We have a strong partnership with students, faculty and staff, and Dr. Palacios has been a vital part of that work. We have great confidence in Dr. Palacios and believe her added role as advisor to the President will be a very important component of maintaining and enhancing an authentic community where we listen to, care for and learn from one another.”

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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