Senior administrator Ramsower leaves role

Photo credit: Lariat File Photo

By Phoebe Suy | Staff Writer

Baylor senior vice president and chief operating officer Dr. Reagan Ramsower will transition out of his position and return to Hankamer School of Business as a full professor after serving in various senior administrative roles for 17 years.

Ramsower’s position oversees a number of entities on Baylor campus including Baylor Department of Public Safety, budget, campus services, governance and risk, and human resources.

Ramsower’s transition will be effective at the end of the fiscal year, May 31, 2018.

“I appreciate Dr. Ramsower’s leadership and deep calling for the University, particularly over the past two years,” President Livingstone wrote in an email announcing the change to faculty and staff the morning of Aug. 23.

Ramsower joined Baylor as a faculty member in 1983 after earning his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He graduated with his B.B.A in 1974 and his M.S. in economics in 1976, both from Baylor.

“[Ramsower] has played an integral role in Baylor’s growth in many areas over the past decade as the campus expanded significantly in terms of both population, physical space and buildings, as well as in increasing Baylor’s engagement with the Waco community,” Livingstone wrote.

He was appointed Chair of the Department of Information Systems in the Hankamer School of Business in 1986. He also served as associate dean in the business school before becoming Baylor’s associate vice president and chief information officer.

Ramsower is from a multi-generational Baylor family that includes Ethel Lattimore Higginbotham, who was in Baylor’s first class of women.

In a statement following Livingstone’s announcement, Ramsower said: “In 2000, after 17 years as a professor, I was asked to serve in a full time administrative capacity for Baylor University. Most recently, I felt it important to help Baylor through a very difficult time in the University’s history. This is an institution that I love dearly and has been a part of my family for many generations. With the hiring of President Livingstone, the door has opened for a new Baylor administration, and she has my full support and help as she leads the University into the future and rebuilds a fresh leadership team for Baylor.”

In 2016, Ramsower headed the Sexual Assault Task Force, an initiative intended to “build on improvements to the University response to sexual violence made in recent years,” the university wrote.

As overseer of the Baylor Department of Public Safety, Ramsower found himself in the midst of some of Baylor’s sexual assault scandals. According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, former Title IX coordinator Patty Crawford reported directly to Ramsower.

Baylor released a “Patty Crawford Timeline” on “The Facts” webpage detailing Crawford’s time at Baylor and some of her interactions with Ramsower.

On Sept. 27 Crawford filed a Human Resources complaint against Baylor leadership.

“Since I spoke out about Baylor’s failure to give me the resources and cooperation that I needed to comply with Title IX, and pushed for Baylor to do the right thing and comply with Title IX, I have been the victim of substantial retaliation…Baylor is not doing the right thing by its students and is not complying with Title IX,” Crawford wrote according to the timeline.

Crawford released a statement in response to Ramsower’s announcement in the Dallas Morning News on Wednesday.

The statement reads:

The announcement of Reagan Ramsower “stepping down” from his position to go back to being a professor is yet another public relations maneuver by Baylor to try to save face and attempt to show progress without having to actually state the truth behind this decision.

Ramsower still remains employed and honored by Baylor leadership which continues to show their inability to be transparent. Many others, myself included, who have attempted to help make positive change and protect the community from discrimination, especially sexual assault, had to make the ethical choice to leave Baylor with their integrity intact. We left in the most honest way we knew how without the privilege of keeping our career or our professional reputation in tact.

It is easy for those of us that know the facts to see that this would not be happening if there wasn’t strong evidence that Ramsower was fully aware of the violent culture as a leader at the University for many years. He not only chose to look the other way, but worked very hard to make sure things were quietly mitigated with pay-outs and settlements when it came to issues of violence on campus and in the community.

Dr. Mary Elizabeth Curtner-Smith, Baylor Class of 1980 and associate professor at The University of Alabama, said she feels like the administration is finally coming to terms with what has happened to sexual assault victims.

“They’re trying to make changes, real change, not just 105 listings on paper,” Curtner-Smith said.

Curtner-Smith is one of the founders of the “BESAFE/Baylor-End Sexual Assault for Everyone!” Facebook group. Curtner-Smith said she and two of her sorority sisters Terri Graves and Nancie Wingo began the Facebook group to learn about Baylor lawsuit developments and discuss their thoughts about the scandals. To their surprise, some of the sexual assault victims joined the page as well as their advocate, Karen Petree-Smith.

Curtner-Smith said the BESAFE Facebook group has since transformed into a support group where they could share information, post news articles, and post supportive and encouraging comments to the victims.

Curtner-Smith said she has been deeply hurt and disappointed by the administration’s response, but for the first time, she is beginning to see hope.

“I haven’t wanted to wear any clothing that identifies me as a supporter of Baylor or anything like that,” Curtner-Smith said. “Until today, that was the first time. When I saw that Reagan Ramsower was being transitioned, I began to think, you know, maybe…maybe all the changes that I’m hoping for will happen, then I can start being a supporter again.”

For Curtner-Smith, Baylor is like a family.

“When you have a family and you’ve got a problem, you need to face it and deal with it. It doesn’t mean you stop loving your family members, you just try to make the changes,” Curtner-Smith said.