On Friday, the Baylor Board of Regents met to discuss a range of issues, including the new academic strategic plan, tuition increases, and the upcoming fundraising campaign. They also introduced six new Regents, including Alumni-Elected Regents Katie Jo Luningham and Gordon Wilkerson, as well as new Chief Business Officer Brett Dalton, who joins Baylor from Clemson.
Questions from the press focused on recent statements made in a deposition by former Athletic Director Ian McCaw. When asked about her reaction to McCaw’s comments, Dr. Livingstone affirmed her support for actions that were taken by the Board of Regents.
“We’re very confident the facts in those situations have not changed and that the decisions that the Board made at the time those facts were released were the right decisions. We stand by those decisions as an institution and we also feel very good about the ongoing work that the university has done to implement the recommendations that came out of the work of Pepper Hamilton.”
Livingstone defended the investigative work done by Pepper Hamilton, which has also come under scrutiny in recent allegations.
“The attorneys that did that investigation are two of the most highly regarded and respected experts in the country, particularly in higher education, on issues of sexual assault, violence, and Title IX. They are used by top universities all over the country because they know what needs to be done in those areas. We have great confidence in the work that they do, and their honesty and forthrightness, and (they) really held us deeply accountable for issues on campus. So we have a lot of confidence in what they recommended, and is why we implemented all of those recommendations, and done that so fully to be at a completely different place now than where we were four years ago.”
Dr. Joel Allison addressed McCaw’s comments that some of the Board’s decisions during the sexual assault scandal were motivated by racism.
“Those are accusations, allegations,” Allison said. “I don’t see them substantiated by facts. That’s not been my experience with a Board member, and while they are serious allegations, I haven’t seen facts behind it. I think we have to understand as we move forward that’s not Baylor, and talking about racism, that’s serious. We take that seriously. Right now, we are one of the most diverse universities in the Big XII. I think we are number four in diversity. And this incoming class is 36% underrepresented groups. We take that seriously. I’ve never seen (racism) as a member of the Board or working with administration. Never been witness to that. . . There’s no place for racism in this university, and I have not personally seen it or witnessed it.”
Asked if there is concern that ongoing allegations and the upcoming depositions of 60+ employees will compromise fundraising goals in the Fall, Dr. Livingstone remained confident that Baylor alumni and donors will remain focused on the future rather than the past.
“There’s great love and care and concern for Baylor,” Livingstone said. “And people want to come around us and move the institution forward. We’re confident that our community understands where we are now versus where we were a few years ago. How different we are. And they’re ready to come around us and support us. I think they also recognize the strength and resilience of Baylor, and have seen how strong our enrollment has remained. Our class this year is coming in right at our target. It’s our highest academic quality class ever. Our giving has remained, and really even went up this last year over previous years. it’s been over a hundred million for seven years in a row. The enrollment numbers, the giving numbers, the financial position of the institution, are very strong and I think the Baylor family recognizes that and wants to come alongside us, and move forward to help make Illuminate a reality.”
NCAA and Department of Education investigations into Baylor remain in process, and Baylor leadership is yet to know the timing of when those investigations will be resolved.
In regards to today’s meeting agenda, the Board voted to approve a 4% tuition increase, which is the same number as the previous year and part of an ongoing goal to temper rising costs for students. Dr. Livingstone will also be hiring a search firm to help hire a Provost, and the search is expected to ramp up in the Fall.