Waco, Texas (Dec. 12, 2016) – The Baylor University Board of Regents met Sunday in executive session to discuss a wide range of subjects, including a recent announcement regarding the University's accrediting agency, a progress report about an investigation by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights into Title IX compliance, and input from faculty and staff during four recent "listening sessions" held by Regents.
The Board also considered questions concerning the thoroughness and fairness of the Pepper Hamilton investigation, which reviewed in detail how Baylor responded to a number of sexual assault allegations between 2011 and 2015. The findings of that investigation were announced on May 26, 2016, and led to leadership changes as well as the adoption of 105 recommendations to improve Title IX compliance campus-wide.
The Regents appointed a Special Committee in October to review the methodology, scope of work and findings of the Pepper Hamilton investigation. This committee was comprised of Regents Joel Allison, Dan Chapman, Jerry Clements and J. Cary Gray. After receiving the committee's review and analysis, the Board found no facts to support concerns raised and concluded that the Pepper Hamilton investigation was comprehensive, unbiased and professional. The Board voted unanimously against engaging another firm to review the investigation.
"Our review found no reasonable grounds to question Pepper Hamilton's investigation or the Board's decisions that were made in reliance on their report to us. Our conclusion was that the law firm had been complete, fair and accurate," said Clements, Chair of Locke Lord, LLP and a member of the Special Committee. "If anything, our second look at the law firm's investigation only strengthened the Board's conclusion that Pepper Hamilton did a thorough and professional job in fulfilling its agreed-upon scope of work."
In addition, the Regents on Sunday heard an update on the University's cooperation with an investigation by the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights into Baylor's response to sexual violence. The Board also endorsed the commitment by University leadership to continue improvement as outlined by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) under a one-year warning issued by the accrediting agency last week.
SACSCOC issued a warning against the University in reaction to its failures in implementing Title IX. The University took swift action following the Pepper Hamilton findings and adopted and began implementing the 105 recommendations. These improvements laid a foundation for continued work with SACSCOC. This warning does not affect Baylor's accreditation but calls for SACSCOC to monitor ongoing University documentation of compliance in three core standards:
All voting members of the Board participated in Sunday's meeting.