Open Letter: More than a Dozen Former Baylor Regents Call for Transparency, Accountability from Current Board
February 6, 2017
February 6, 2017
Board of Regents
As former Regents, we want to thank you for your service to Baylor, and we recognize it takes a great deal of time and dedication to serve in this very important capacity. However, we want you to know we have grave concerns about the recent actions, and inactions, of the Baylor Board of Regents. The recent sexual assault scandal has cast a very dark cloud over Baylor. We are deeply saddened for the victims that have suffered assaults, or sexual assaults, and we hope and pray they are getting whatever help is necessary for them to recover physically and emotionally from these horrible events.
As tragic as the above events have been, we have equal concern about the overall leadership of Baylor during this crisis and the lack of transparency and accountability in dealing with the Baylor Family.
These concerns are covered below:
1. Pepper Hamilton Investigation And Lack of Transparency. We have great concerns about the Pepper Hamilton (PH) investigation. Some believe this investigation was flawed. The admission by the Regents that PH did not talk to any of those accused of committing the assaults lends itself to criticism that the investigation was not thorough, or complete, and perhaps was unfair. The reality is that until Regents release the actual “agreed upon scope” of the investigation, it is very difficult for anyone to determine if the investigation was or was not flawed. The details of the assaults certainly should not, and do not need to be released. However, we strongly believe that the pertinent facts of the investigation in the form of a written report and the agreed upon scope of the investigation should be released to the Baylor Family.
2. Failure to Live Up To Governance Standards. In the released version of the Pepper Hamilton Recommendations, PH makes a number of troubling recommendations in Part III about Regent conduct and practices. These recommendations include:
- A plea to “resolve governance issues at the Executive Council and board levels;”
- That the entire Board of Regents undergo Association of Governing Board training;
- That the Board “review considerations and standards for new Board membership, including actual or perceived conflicts of interest, and implement due diligence standards in the selection of Board members;” and
- A curiously specific recommendation to “educate and train board members to remain within appropriate reporting protocols and lines of communication when addressing members of the administration and the Athletics Department (consistent with employment contracts).
These are troubling statements to be made about a Baylor Board of Regents. The selection and election of Regents – the ultimate leaders of Baylor University – is perhaps one of the most important actions of the Board. If the office of Regent has been compromised through the lack of exercising proper fiduciary responsibility, lack of appropriate due diligence, or conflicts of interest by Regents, the Regents responsible for these actions should resign their duties and allow their position to be filled by another person.
3. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). SACS has just announced they are putting Baylor under a “Warning” status. The accreditation of Baylor is certainly one of its most important assets. The fact that SACS has felt it necessary to put Baylor under a “Warning” status appears to be just further indication the Regent Board is not providing the governance leadership that a major university board should be providing.
As former Regents, we are respectfully asking the current Board of Regents to demonstrate transparency and accountability by taking the following actions:
- Ensure that all victims are getting whatever help is necessary for them to move forward with their lives.
- Ensure the Baylor campus is safe and that all of the appropriate Title IX procedures are in place and implemented.
- Release ALL of the facts from the PH Investigation.
- Release the actual agreed upon scope of the investigation between PH and Baylor in the form of a written report.
- If current Regents on the Board have acted inappropriately as suggested in Section III of the PH Recommendations, those Regents – no matter how many – should resign from the Board.
- The Board should take seriously the importance of SACS accreditation, and should provide the necessary leadership, guidance, and governance to remove the accreditation blemish that Baylor has recently received.
Once again, we thank you for your service, but it is now time for this Board of Regents to be transparent and accountable to Baylor alumni, faculty, students, and friends of the university.
Mary Chavanne Holmgren