In May 2016, Baylor University's Board of Regents heard the comprehensive findings of a nine-month, independent investigation into the University's response to reports of sexual violence within its campus community. A broad array of 105 recommendations was released to the public and became a blueprint for improvement under the leadership of Interim President David Garland in the months that followed.
On May 11, 2017, the Baylor Board of Regents received a briefing affirming that all 105 recommendations are now structurally complete, with some elements that remain ongoing to sustain this effort. For each recommendation, the infrastructure and foundation are in place, and the University continues to work diligently to integrate implementation efforts across campus. A written report by national experts Gina Maisto Smith and Leslie M. Gomez, of Cozen O'Connor, detailing both an internal and external audit of the completion of the recommendations will be released later this summer.
"My top priority during my interim presidency was to implement these expansive corrective actions that demonstrate Baylor's firm institution-wide commitment to improving our processes, communication, training and response. We want to re-ignite a culture of respect and character that reflects Baylor's Christian mission," Garland said. "I appreciate the work of the many task forces and implementation groups consisting of members from Baylor's faculty, staff, students and administration. They cared deeply about their work, and their dedication has led to greater awareness of and the prevention of sexual assault that plagues campuses across the nation. Their efforts led to the development of a robust Title IX Office, with mandatory Title IX training for all students, faculty and staff; and additional support services for all students who need them, among many other significant improvements.
"It is important to note that for some of the recommendations, there is no completion point as they speak to an overall culture of compliance and commitment to ongoing initiatives, not necessarily a one-time "to-do list." These recommendations will be ongoing as we continue to make them operational throughout the campus. We look forward to sharing a public accounting of the University's response related to the recommendations and institutional focus on Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act, which we believe may serve as an industry benchmark for all of higher education."
Among the most notable improvements:
- A Chief Compliance Officer with responsibility for Title IX and other federal and state regulatory standards has been named.
- Vice President and Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades and Head Football Coach Matt Rhule, who each value the University mission and the integration of athletics into the life and purpose of the University, have joined Baylor's administration.
- The staff of Baylor's Title IX Office has been expanded, including the hiring of a full-time training and prevention coordinator (with the search for a second underway), and the office has grown into one of the largest in the Big 12.
- A new Title IX policy, informed by leading experts in the field, has been approved, implemented and distributed to all faculty, staff and students.
- An amnesty provision has been incorporated into the Title IX policy to break down potential barriers to reporting, and an online, confidential reporting tool has been launched.
- Mandatory training for faculty, staff and first-year students has been completed and additional training for upper-division students has been provided.
- A centralized database of student conduct information has been implemented across multiple departments.
- A mandatory drug-testing and education program has launched within the University's athletics programs, ensuring compliance above Big 12 and NCAA standards.
- The staff of Baylor's Counseling Center has doubled in size; trauma-informed training and PTSD treatment training have been completed among the counseling center staff; physical space for the counseling center has almost tripled; and new specialists to assist with trauma recovery have been hired over the past year.
- A full-time Clery coordinator has been named and more than 600 employees designated as Campus Security Authorities (CSA) have been identified and trained to reinforce Clery Act reporting obligations.
- The University President meets monthly with the Director of Athletics, Senior Associate Athletics Director for Compliance, and University Chief Compliance Officer to monitor compliance in all areas of the University.
- New student-athlete transfer policies and recruitment policies have been implemented.
- Baylor police officers have each completed an average of 100 hours of training – more than twice the number of hours required by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. Included in BUPD training is 32 hours of in-service training to cover Title IX and the Clery Act. Investigators have completed the Texas Sexual Assault Family Violence Investigators Certification Course and the Victim-Centered Interviewing and Forensic Interviewing Course.
- A Victim Advocate has been hired to assist complainants throughout the reporting and investigative process, which includes helping the complainant navigate Title IX and criminal justice processes.
- Baylor police now video record all complainant, witness and suspect interviews to reduce the need for complainants to relay information more than once and aid investigators by allowing them to gather information firsthand.
- Baylor has strengthened its partnership with the Waco Advocacy Center and participates in McLennan County's Sexual Assault Response Team.
- A student-focused social climate survey was completed, the results of which will shape additional awareness and prevention training and communication strategies.
- Baylor's Board of Regents adopted more than 30 detailed best-practice recommendations for improvement to university governance that resulted from a comprehensive, independent task force review.
In addition to the structural completion of the 105 recommendations, Baylor University has selected Linda A. Livingstone, PhD, current dean and professor of management at The George Washington University School of Business, as the institution's 15th president. Dr. Livingstone was the unanimous choice of the Baylor Board of Regents, following the recommendation of the 12-member Presidential Search Committee.
Dr. Livingstone, who will begin as president on June 1, brings a distinguished academic career to Baylor. Prior to George Washington, she served as dean of Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business and Management and associate dean and associate professor in Baylor's Hankamer School of Business.
"We are going to do everything we can to be sure we provide a safe and healthy environment for all of our students," Livingstone said. "I'm committed to that, I know the Board of Regents is committed to that and we will continue to be vigilant in that as we move forward.