Alumni-Elected Regent Voter’s Guide
This year marks the first time that Baylor alumni can vote for a fellow Baylor Bear to serve on Baylor’s Board of Regents, per an agreement between the university and the Baylor Line Foundation (formerly the Baylor Alumni Association.) Graduates of Baylor University should expect to receive a letter or email from Baylor containing voting information, and the voting period ends at 11:59 A.M. CDT on May 5, 2017.
Bears for Leadership Reform believes that the Baylor Family should know how the Alumni-Elected Regent candidates will tackle the issues of accountability, transparency, and reform should they be elected to the Board of Regents.
1. Do you believe Baylor should disclose to the Baylor Family the facts uncovered in the Pepper Hamilton investigation while taking appropriate steps to protect the privacy of victims and confidential witnesses, and that the Board of Regents should provide an accounting of its subsequent decisions and rationale?
Answer: Above all, the dignity and privacy of victims and confidential witnesses should be protected. Yes, increasingly more open communication and transparency from the University and its Regents are what most alumni expect. If there is more information that exists that helps cast greater insight so that the victims and Baylor family can heal, it should be discussed openly.And, let me be very clear my heart breaks for any victim of sexual harassment and assault. It takes an immense amount of bravery to come forward and to seek assistance and justice. They deserve nothing short of the utmost care and respect.
2. Pepper Hamilton made several recommendations that strongly suggest problems with Board governance. For example, Pepper Hamilton recommended corrections to unspecified “governance issues,” “actual or perceived conflicts of interest” on the board, and a failure by some regents to “remain within appropriate reporting protocols and lines of communication when addressing members of the administration and the Athletics Department.” Do you believe Baylor should disclose to the Baylor Family the fact upon which those recommendations were based?
Answer: Transparency and accountability are realities that most alumni want from the University and its Regents. It is reasonable and right to clearly communicate details how conflict of interest can be stopped and where and how governance can be improved. In the absence of information, alumni and non-alumni are left to speculate and make assumptions.
3. Do you believe regent meetings should be conducted in open session with limited exceptions for private discussion of legal advice and other sensitive matters?
Answer: I am not an expert on governance. Nevertheless, there are many examples where governing bodies have executive sessions for sensitive and confidential matters and then have open sessions for constituents and where the agenda and mechanisms for dialogue are communicated and established. A model like this might satisfy the need to handle confidential matters and increased transparency.
4. Do you believe Baylor should provide a full accounting of the financial impact that the sexual assault scandal has had on the university?
Answer: A full accounting of the financial impact is nearly impossible to calculate when one considers the effect of the scandal on both the bottom-line, top-line and in perception costs. Looking forward, I trust there will be increased openness to the financial health of the University as well as open communication about how it is investing to support all students and administration to increase the academic excellence of Baylor and to ensure nothing like the sexual assault scandal happens again.
Steve Mitchell replied:
My initial intent was to go through your questions and respond as I did for the Baylor Board of Regents and the Baylor Line Foundation.
However, I had assumed these questions would be directed to my experience set and/or the person I am and why I believe I have the qualities to serve our University well, questions I am happy to address.
The four questions you posed were much more subjective to the crisis that racked our University last year. I understand your reasons for asking these questions. I don’t, however, feel like I am at all well informed enough to respond as I am not privy to the facts, situations, legal ramifications or the nuances of what occurred or has been alleged. I know what I have seen in the media and the entire situation is certainly disturbing, to say the least.
I very much want to be a part of the go-forward solution to make sure this never happens again and to make sure Baylor consistently lives up to its mission of being a first-class institution of higher education rooted in its Christian foundation. I am a forward focused, outcome-oriented individual and I believe I can help Baylor achieve amazing things. But I’m just not in the know enough on what occurred to provide an informed or objective response to your questions.
I hope you can understand my basis for this response and I’m fine if you publish this as my response to your questions.
Thanks for all you have all done for Baylor. You have improved the outcome for so many students, faculty and staff.
Julie Turner did not respond to calls and emails from a number of Bears for Leadership Reform Board members. BLR will update this page should Mrs. Turner respond.
Still want to know more about the candidates? Check out this Q&A from the Baylor Line Foundation. Click here to read more.