An Update from President Garland

June 29, 2016
Dear Baylor Family,

During the last few weeks, after being briefed by the Pepper Hamilton investigators concerning their Findings of Fact and recommendations, I have daily prayed, along with you, for the survivors of sexual assault. Their trauma remains foremost in our minds as we strive to be the caring community we are called to be. We yearn for your support as we labor together across all departments on campus to implement improvements to our processes, culture and systems to prevent and respond to incidents of sexual violence and to support those who have experienced such trauma.

As Baylor’s president, I commit to providing leadership and being forthright in sharing the results of our work. We are on a path of continuous improvement, ensuring that our processes and systems support all our students. Further, we have pledged to reignite our passion for the mission of this University, to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community. In the remainder of this letter, I hope you see evidence of these commitments and the ongoing work of the University.

Character On and Off the Field

Baylor University is an institution of higher education first and foremost. In addition to pursuing the highest standards in preparing our students for lives of personal and professional success, we are dedicated to fielding teams of student-athletes who positively represent the University.

As we begin a new chapter in Baylor football with acting head football coach Jim Grobe, we anticipate a program focused on success with an emphasis on character and accountability in life. Coach Grobe has already brought to the program the kind of integrity and ethical leadership that characterized his previous 19 years of experience as a head coach, most recently at Wake Forest University.

Over the years, thousands of student-athletes have demonstrated integrity and have made us proud by their actions on and off the field. As students, so many have shown tremendous dedication in the classroom. In fact, Baylor leads the Big 12 in graduation rates, and our student-athletes set a school record GPA of 3.28 in the spring 2016 semester while achieving 600 or more Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll selections (669) for the fifth straight year. Athletics can be something that unifies the Baylor family. We are working hard to ensure this is the case.

Moving Forward

Baylor is blessed with a senior leadership team committed to providing ethically grounded management of the University. We are daily working to ensure that our 16,000 students are safe. I am providing hands-on guidance to ensure that Baylor is in compliance with Title IX, the Jeanne Clery Act (Clery), the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA) and other state and federal obligations. However, we need not look to such laws to know the difference between right and wrong. Scripture sets a far higher standard for how we are to interact with our neighbors out of love.

Over the past few weeks, dedicated faculty, staff and students who have given their time to the work of the implementation teams have accomplished a great deal on our path to operationalizing Pepper Hamilton’s 105 Recommendations, or as I see them, mandates. We are resolved to create a culture of accountability and respect across the entire campus and are refining processes and systems to ensure we respond rapidly and sensitively when students report incidents of interpersonal violence and seek our help. Among the improvements:

  • With the personnel added last spring, Baylor’s Title IX staff became one of the largest among universities in the Big 12 conference. The staff of our Title IX Office has been expanded to include a deputy Title IX coordinator for intake, support, and case management, and candidates for two new trained and experienced investigators are currently being reviewed. Title IX Coordinator Patty Crawford also is working to plan for continuous training among those in the Title IX Office. Attentive, trained and trauma-informed staff members are critical to the University’s work to prevent acts of sexual violence and respond and support students when such acts occur.
  • Brad Wigtil, chief of the Baylor University Police Department (BUPD), is working closely with the Title IX Office to develop consistent protocols for timely response, decision-making, follow-up, documentation and investigation. In addition, BUPD officers are scheduled to receive training on response to sexual violence and are utilizing the summer to develop plans for more robust community partnership models and relationship building across campus.
  • After expanding its staff with community professionals to respond to student needs through the spring semester, the Baylor Counseling Center has begun filling the full-time positions created in February 2016. The new counselors will almost double the clinical staff, going from 10 full-time employees to 20 counselors and support staff. These staffing enhancements will make Baylor’s student-to-counselor ratio among the lowest in the country. The Baylor Counseling Center has been attentive to removing barriers to care by establishing protocols for immediate assessment and reducing waits for appointments during periods of high demand, limiting fees for additional services and eliminating limits to the number of sessions provided.
  • The University has already identified and trained almost 600 employees whose roles with students on our campus designate them as Campus Security Authorities (CSAs). This training reinforces reporting obligations in compliance with the Clery Act. All CSAs will be engaged throughout the summer with training completed before the fall semester begins.


A New Generation Finds Its Place at Baylor

Three weeks ago, we began welcoming our incoming class of new students for Orientation. During these sessions, freshman and transfer students and their guests are able to explore the University’s exceptional academic programs and learning environment. I have been delighted to see our campus alive with activity and to meet these talented and promising students.

These new Baylor students are excited about what the future holds for them and for their University. They believe in the mission of the University and want to be a part of the future of this great institution. The incoming students are joining thousands of others who will return to campus in August to continue their academic pursuits. Our students offer great cause for celebration, embodying God’s gifts of hope and promise.

Coming to us from across America and around the world, these men and women have chosen Baylor as the place where they will lay the groundwork for lives of leadership and service that truly will change the world for good. To them we dedicate our time and talents as educators and a caring community, and for them we ask your steadfast prayers and your continued support. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Thank you for your love of Baylor University.

Sincerely,

David E. Garland, Ph.D.
Interim President
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