By Emily Cousins | Staff writer
The Baylor Board of Regents accepted the report of the Commission on Historic Campus Representations at its quarterly meeting on Friday. The regents unanimously passed a resolution charging the administration to take action.
It was the regent’s first chance as a group to discuss the report, which was commissioned last summer to review the historical record of Baylor and its founders, including connections to slavery and racial injustice. The resolution on the final report thanked all 26 commission members for their work and passed the torch to Baylor President Dr. Linda Livingstone and her team for the next steps in response to the commission’s recommendations, which were not specified.
“The Board of Regents charges the University Administration under the direction of President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., to develop a proposed action plan regarding the Commission’s recommendations, as feasible and in accordance with existing Board policies and procedures,” the resolution stated. “The Administration will provide a briefing for Board consideration and action in accordance with existing Board policies and procedures, prior to the implementation of any recommendation.”
Member of the Commission on Historic Campus Representations and Baylor NAACP President Houston senior Lexy Bogney said it feels great that the report has been accepted.
“We all worked really hard, and I believe that this is a great first step in Baylor acknowledging its past and taking the time to listen to their students and faculty,” Bogney said
Chair of the Board of Regents Mark Rountree said changes made on campus in response to the report will take time.
“The nature of observations and recommendations of commission involve a whole number of things for the Board consideration,” Rountree said. “A lot, if not most of those, require some additional information and information for the Board to consider, which is part of what Dr. Livingstone and her team will do. I think it will be a period of time where we engage in different decision points along the way, and make those decisions that the Board believes are appropriate to make that are consistent with and an expression of our Christian mission and at the end of the day, make Baylor a better place of belonging for our students, faculty and staff of color.”
Livingstone said she and her team will begin to create a plan of action.
“The board has to approve anything having to do with new monuments, naming of buildings, those sorts of things,” Livingstone said. “But we are going to work on a specific action plan and specific recommendations to take back to the board at upcoming meetings that they can consider.”
Rountree said the Board is committed to releasing the full independent report of the commission to the public by the end of March. In the meantime, Baylor will be continuing its conversation series.
“The University will hold three forums as part of the ongoing ‘Baylor Conversation Series: Perspectives on Our History’ on March 2, March 9 and March 16,” according to the Board of Regents news release. “Hosted by Ronald Angelo Johnson, Ph.D., The Ralph and Bessie Mae Lynn Chair of History at Baylor, each respective forum will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Zoom and include panelists from universities in Texas and other experts to discuss slavery in the United States, slavery in Texas and among Texas Baptists and the historical findings of the Commission and the framework for the recommendations.”
In addition to the resolution regarding the Commission on Historic Campus Representations, another resolution was passed recognizing the work of Baylor Dining and Facilities teams this week during the freezing weather.
“The men and women of the Baylor Dining and Facilities teams are vital members of the Baylor Family, providing services essential to the successful operation of the University and contributing their spirit and valued talents to the campus community,” the resolution stated.
Livingstone also updated the Board on COVID-19 protocols and weekly testing, Illuminate progress, and the continued goal to strive to be a Research One and Tier One University. She also told regents that student applications, acceptances and deposits for next fall are tracking in line with the previous two years in spite of the virtual recruiting environment.
“Although we had a challenging week with the weather, we had great discussions with the Board in a virtual setting. Baylor remains strong and resilient, despite many challenges from COVID-19 to this week’s record-breaking cold temperatures,” Livingstone said. “We continue to move forward aggressively with Illuminate as we pursue our aspirations as the preeminent Christian research university.”