Baylor University Reflects on a Year of Significant Change and Progress
WACO, Texas (May 26, 2017) – For the past 12 months, Baylor University has been intensely focused on substantive improvements to awareness, prevention and response to the needs of those impacted by sexual violence.
This campuswide effort involving personnel, processes, systems and support services was initiated last May after Baylor's Board of Regents heard the comprehensive findings of a nine-month, independent investigation into the University's response to reports of sexual violence within its campus community.
Then on May 26, 2016, the Board undertook several unprecedented actions – making significant changes to university and athletics leadership, publicly releasing scathing findings from the investigation that outlined the University's failures, and making public a broad array of 105 recommendations for improvement that were drawn from the investigation. These recommendations became a blueprint for work across the University in the months that followed.
One year later, at its May 2017 meeting, the Baylor Board of Regents received a briefing affirming that all 105 recommendations are now structurally complete, with some elements that remain ongoing to sustain this effort. For each recommendation, the infrastructure and foundation are in place, and the University continues implementation efforts across campus. A written report by national experts Gina Maisto Smith and Leslie M. Gomez of the Philadelphia-based law firm Cozen O'Connor P.C. detailing both an internal and external audit of the completion of the recommendations will be released later this summer.
In addition to the structural completion of the 105 recommendations, Baylor is preparing for the arrival of Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., as the institution's 15th president. Dr. Livingstone was the unanimous choice of the Baylor Board of Regents in April, following the recommendation of the 12-member Presidential Search Committee.
Dr. Livingstone, who will begin as president on June 1, brings a distinguished academic career to Baylor. Prior to serving as dean and professor of management at The George Washington University School of Business, the post she leaves to join Baylor, she served as dean of Pepperdine University's Graziadio School of Business and Management and associate dean and associate professor in Baylor's Hankamer School of Business from 1991-2002.
"For Baylor, making substantive improvements has never been a 'to do' list. This commitment to improvement comes from a deep sense of responsibility as part of our Christian mission and heartfelt care for our students," said President-Select Livingstone. "We have made these improvements because they are the right things to do and we will continue to be attentive to the needs of students, the guidance provided by the government and best practices learned from national experts. We are going to do everything we can to be sure we provide a safe and healthy environment for all of our students. I'm committed to that, I know the Board of Regents is committed to that and we will continue to be vigilant as we move forward."
Among the most notable improvements over the past year, many resulting from implementation of the 105 recommendations:
- A Chief Compliance Officer with responsibility for Title IX and other federal and state regulatory standards has been named.
- Vice President and Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades and Head Football Coach Matt Rhule, who each value the University mission and the integration of athletics into the life and purpose of the University, have joined Baylor's administration.
- The staff of Baylor's Title IX Office has been expanded following a $4.3 million investment, including the hiring of two full-time training and prevention coordinators, and the office has grown into one of the largest in the Big 12. Physical space for the Title IX Office has almost doubled and implementation of the Green Dot program has begun.
- A new Title IX policy, informed by leading experts in the field, has been approved, implemented and distributed to all faculty, staff and students.
- An online anonymous reporting tool and 24-hour access to crisis support have been established.
- An amnesty provision has been incorporated into the Title IX policy to break down potential barriers to reporting.
- Mandatory annual Title IX training for faculty, staff and first-year students has been completed and additional training for upper-division students has been provided.
- A "Report It" centralized database of student conduct information has been implemented across multiple departments.
- A mandatory drug-testing and education program has launched within the University's athletics programs, ensuring compliance above Big 12 and NCAA standards.
- The staff of Baylor's Counseling Center has doubled in size to exceed national recommendations, trauma-informed training and PTSD treatment training have been completed among the counseling center staff, physical space for the counseling center has almost tripled, and new support groups and specialists to assist with trauma recovery have been hired over the past year.
- A full-time Clery Act compliance manager and Clery Act associate have been named and more than 600 employees designated at Campus Security Authorities (CSA) have been identified and trained to reinforce Clery reporting obligations.
- The University President meets monthly with the Director of Athletics, Senior Associate Athletics Director for Compliance, and University Chief Compliance Officer to monitor compliance in all areas of the University.
- New student-athlete transfer policies and recruitment policies have been implemented.
- The number of commissioned officers in the Baylor University Police Department has increased to 38 and officers have each completed an average of 100 hours of training – more than twice the number of hours required by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement. Included in BUPD training is 32 hours of in-service training to cover Title IX and the Clery Act. Investigators have completed the Texas Sexual Assault Family Violence Investigators Certification Course and the Victim-Centered Interviewing and Forensic Interviewing Course.
- A Victim Advocate has been hired within BUPD to assist complainants throughout the reporting and investigative process, which includes helping the complainant navigate Title IX and criminal justice processes.
- Baylor police utilize a trauma-informed approach to work with victims of assault and now video record all complainant, witness and suspect interviews to reduce the need for complainants to relay information more than once and aid investigators by allowing them to gather information firsthand.
- Baylor has strengthened its partnership with the Waco Advocacy Center and participates in McLennan County's Sexual Assault Response Team.
- A student-focused social climate survey was completed this spring, the results of which will shape additional awareness and prevention training and communication strategies.
- Baylor's Board of Regents adopted more than 30 detailed best-practice recommendations for improvement to university governance that resulted from a comprehensive, independent task force review.
Baylor University's commitment to care for survivors of sexual assault and to prevent such acts in our community drives our pursuit of continuous improvement. Providing a safe environment in which all our students thrive as they find and follow their callings is the institution's highest priority.
More information related to Baylor's commitment, response and progress regarding the issue of sexual violence within its campus community can be found at www.Baylor.edu/TheFacts.