Faculty & Staff: Let Us Join Together to Serve Our Students
As we begin a new summer academic term and a challenging journey together, I am honored and humbled that the Regents have asked me again to serve as interim president of Baylor University. Our work to pursue collectively Baylor’s distinctive mission requires our fervent prayers and a trust in God as the ultimate source of mercy, strength and guidance.
These have been difficult and confusing days to many. We share these trials as a Christian academic community, and we will overcome them to make our campus, and beyond, safe for our more than 16,000 students. We acknowledge and take responsibility for our failures in the past, and we have already taken steps to ensure that we will be in compliance with Title IX, the Jeanne Clery Act and the Violence Against Woman Act. Our aim is to set the highest standards in this area.
Baylor has long been known as a place where students are loved and cared for, and that remains true even as we face the realities of the findings of the Pepper Hamilton investigation. I am grateful to the Regents for openly addressing the findings of the extensive, external investigation. It demonstrates their unwavering dedication to doing what is right for our students, both today and in the future. I hurt for the students and appreciate the courage of the students who shared their stories with Pepper during the investigation. They will bear scars, but they may find some comfort in knowing that they will help us better address these issues in the future. We will continue to protect any details that may compromise the privacy of these individuals. Their wellbeing is our concern.
All possible resources are currently being deployed to create a culture on campus that is characterized by dignity and respect for others, including the awareness and prevention of sexual assaults. We have already started working on the many recommendations made by Pepper Hamilton and they have provided us with an excellent roadmap for the work that lies ahead of us. In addition, a recommitment to our foundational faith will guide us as we strive to be true to the Lord we serve.
The steps Baylor has taken in recent years to create a fully staffed and properly functioning Title IX Office are being augmented by new measures recently approved by our Regents. I am extremely grateful to Patty Crawford and her team who are doing so much in this vital area of University operations. During my tenure as interim provost, I oversaw the hiring of Patty, and I know her to be a professional with the highest standards, deepest compassion for students and dedication to student justice.
I want to stress that while we have protocol and policies in place concerning sexual violence, it is up to each of us as individual members of the community to follow these policies for the betterment of our students. Members of our faculty and staff will continue to receive mandatory Title IX training, and it is imperative that each of us utilizes this training if ever faced with a Title IX-related complaint concerning a student.
In the days ahead, I will be working with the Staff Council and with Dr. L. Gregory Jones, executive vice president and provost, to increase our faculty and staff’s knowledge concerning Title IX-related resources and the awareness as to what each of us should do in reporting things we hear or see concerning possible student endangerment.
Baylor University is dedicated to fostering character and accountability in our students as they gain the education necessary for professional and personal success. In that regard, each of us serves as a model for students, with our character and accountability demonstrating a path in life they too can follow.
My prayer is that, humbled by our serious failings, we will join together and, through the power of Christ who died for us and of the Holy Spirit, boldly address the improvements required to establish Baylor as a model for the comprehensive care of students.