Viewpoint: Administration responds to student regent editorial

John M. Barry| VP for Marketing and Communications
John M. Barry| VP for Marketing and Communications
John M. Barry| VP for Marketing and Communications

Your recent editorial, “Regents shouldn’t choose rep for students”  on Feb. 27 suggests a misunderstanding of the goal of Baylor regents when they chose to appoint to the board, in a non-voting capacity, a member of the student body and a faculty member.

Last year, regents decided to include in their future meetings one individual to provide a student perspective and one individual to provide a faculty perspective. The board did this without the expectation that these individuals would represent the opinions of all faculty or students. Instead, the board was acting to ensure that the voice and perspective of a Baylor student and faculty member would be present during board discussions and deliberations. This is consistent with the process by which others are appointed to the Baylor board. Leaders who are pastors, educators, physicians, corporate CEOs, lawyers and more bring their expertise to bear in service to Baylor as Regents. What these regents provide is a valuable perspective that emerges out of their experience. Such is the board’s expectation with the appointment of a student and faculty regent.

With the exception of the collaborative process by which BGCT [Baptist General Convention of Texas] appointees are selected, Baylor Regents are responsible to identify, vet and select those who serve on the Baylor board. Board members themselves nominate and vote for quality individuals who bring needed skills and perspective to the board.

This is according to the bylaws which govern all policies and practices of the board of regents.

To assist the board in the selection of our student regent, Dr. Kevin Jackson, vice president for student life, has established a process which ensures that every student has the opportunity to be considered for the position of student regent.

Following an open application process, a non-regent committee reviews applications, conducts interviews and, ultimately, puts forward for regent consideration a very small number of top applicants from which regents select the student member of the board.

This year, the committee brought forward a group of three exceptional finalists from which the board selected an outstanding student regent in Taylor Hoogendoorn. Mr. Hoogendoorn is an impressive young man and a remarkable student.

Your readers should know that there are many ways for elected student leaders to influence important decisions of the board. For example, several years ago, student government leaders identified a gap in the level of financial support the university provided continuing students. Because aid did not increase at the same rate as costs, some students were facing financial hardship later in their academic careers.

Elected student leaders developed and presented to regents a proposal to increase annual financial aid packages for continuing students. That very thoughtful and carefully researched proposal was enthusiastically embraced by the board of regents who, acted swiftly to address the problems identified by the elected student leaders and enact the appropriate solution.

As the inaugural faculty and student regents, Dr. Still and Kelly Rapp have provided valuable perspective to the board during the past year.

Dr. Still will continue to serve on the board in 2013/2014 while regents look forward to welcoming to their meetings beginning this summer Mr. Hoodendoorn, who is certain to provide valuable and important perspective as Baylor’s new student regent.

John Barry is Baylor’s vice president for marketing and communications.