Students, Faculty and Staff:
Baylor University has been actively investigating an allegation that former Board of Regents Chair Richard Willis used extremely offensive and hurtful language in a private conversation in Mexico in 2014. Mr. Willis, who served as Chair from 2012-16 and left the Board in 2017, adamantly denies making the statements.
The alleged comments are in direct opposition to everything Baylor stands for, and are so egregious that the University immediately launched an investigation when they first came to light through the litigation process a month ago.
A team of attorneys has interviewed Mr. Willis and most of the others who either participated in or may have overheard the alleged conversation. As we seek the truth in this matter, we even sent outside legal counsel to France to speak with one participant who now lives there. We also have been informed that the accuser’s lawyers have a recording of the conversation, but they have refused to share this critical piece of information with us unless formally subpoenaed, which we have now done.
The investigation is still on-going. To date, one witness has stated that Mr. Willis never used the alleged offensive language on the evening in question, while another witness has corroborated some of the statements. In accordance with due process, and out of fairness to everyone involved, we will continue our investigation until all reasonable avenues are exhausted to determine whether the alleged statements were made. Once the investigation is complete, we will act quickly and decisively if these alleged comments were indeed said.
Baylor has made great strides in recent years to enhance diversity and cultural competency on our campus. All of us at the University have worked hard to create an environment in which all students, faculty and staff are treated with respect and dignity. Our prompt and thorough response to these allegations once again shows how seriously we take this commitment.
Hate speech, offensive statements or racist comments in any form – by anyone – will never be tolerated at Baylor University.
Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D.