This summer has been full of challenges for Baylor. Since the completion of the independent Pepper Hamilton investigation of Baylor’s handling of sexual assault allegations, Baylor has taken action in attempts to adhere to the law firm’s recommendations. However, the dark shadow of the sexual assault scandal continues to loom over the university. The issues that have been brought to light will not be dispelled in a couple of months. The shifts in administrative positions aim to aid in the process of moving forward.
Along with the appointment of interim Head Coach Jim Grobe and interim President David Garland, Michelle Berry, Lori Baker, and Darin Davis have been appointed to “help us build stronger and strategic capabilities in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost,” Executive Vice President and Provost Greg Jones said in a press release.
Michelle Berry has been appointed vice president for academic operations and strategic finance. She said she is a proud graduate of Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business. Her responsibilities include planning the means by which the university’s resources will be used to effectively meet Baylor’s academic priorities and serving as the primary connection between academic affairs and administrative offices across the university. In addition to her formal responsibilities, Berry said she hopes to provide leadership in developing financial structures and incentives that fuel innovative programming. She plans to focus on long-term planning that will connect the school’s framework with its strategic objective for the future as well as find creative ways for donors to invest in the future. For example, introducing an academic program inclusive to the diversity of the school while continuing to embody Baylor’s academic values.
“I hope to play a small role in providing trust and confidence in these financial processes, and I have many thoughtful colleagues committed to that same end,” Berry said.
Berry has been with Baylor for over five and a half years, working in numerous expanding roles in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost. Her past roles have focused on serving as a liaison between Academic Affairs and the administrative offices on campus. The skills she has acquired and relationships she has developed will allow her to reach both the school’s and her personal goals with her appointment as vice president for academic operations and strategic finance.
“We must all be a part of that effort and in enhancing our culture’s response and prevention of sexual assault,” Berry said.
Her appointment and new position contribute to this effort through evaluating resourcing decisions in light of Baylor’s distinctive mission as a Christian research university, as well as through showing the community that thoughtful people who are committed and care about both the school and academic mission are in charge of such significant positions.
Darin H. Davis has been appointed vice president for university mission.
“The appointment of Darin Davis, who has been so effective as the leader of Baylor’s Institute for Faith and Learning, will enhance and strengthen the focus on our mission across the university,” Garland said in a press release.
Davis’ role includes encouraging Baylor students, faculty, staff, graduates and donors to see Baylor’s Christian mission as precious and worthy of the student body’s attention every day and in every aspect of the university’s life.
Davis is an assistant professor of christian philosophy and ethics as well as the director of the Institute for Faith and Learning. He has earned degrees from multiple universities, including Baylor. In addition to the skills and knowledge he has gained from such positions, Davis has thought of ideas in relation to Christian higher education since his graduate days at Baylor in the mid-’90s. He said he hopes to keep the flame of Baylor’s sacred mission burning in order to pass the torch down to the next generation. Through this appointment, Davis and Baylor are able to put a greater focus on the university’s mission, which will move both the university and its students forward from the recent sexual assault scandal and keep the mission’s flame burning, according to the press release.
Lori E. Baker has been appointed vice provost for strategic initiatives, collaborations and leadership development. She is responsible for using Baylor’s academic strengths across the campus and creating opportunities for Baylor’s faculty and deans to work together and move forward important initiatives, specifically the health sciences.
Baker is an associate professor of anthropology who specializes in molecular and forensic analysis of skeletal remains. She has received degrees in anthropology at Baylor as well as the University of Tennessee. Baker is also the founder and executive director of the International Consortium for Forensic Identification, Reuniting Families Project.
The program recovers and identifies remains of undocumented immigrants who have died during their attempts to enter the U.S. In addition to the program, Baker works internationally to identify victims of human rights violations. Through her efforts, she has brought closure to families who have lost loved ones.