Update: Baylor tries to boost transparency after sexual assault scandal

WACO — Top Baylor officials offered a rare update on their efforts to reform a university under siege Friday, as the school’s protracted sexual assault scandal hit its 18-month mark.

Baylor has responded to 85 of the 105 recommendations laid out by the law firm Pepper Hamilton, which unveiled Baylor’s failure to respond to sexual assaults last year, interim President David E. Garland said.

Baylor has seen a “small drop” in donations since the scandal, he said, but the number of people contributing annually has actually increased  — to more than 13,500.

The board of regents, which governs the school, has made changes that chairman Ron Murff said would make Baylor’s leadership “one of the most responsive and transparent of any major private university.” At the same time, Murff dug in his heels on one of the most controversial aspects of the Pepper Hamilton investigation and said the board was unlikely to ask the law firm to create a much-demanded written report.

“The important thing is we’re focused on moving forward,” Murff said.

Their comments came during two short press conferences during and after a board of regents meeting Friday. It was the first time Baylor, a private university, hosted the media on site during a board meeting.

The event was a marked change in tone for Baylor, which has been under attack for its secretive handling of the sexual assault scandal. But it may not be enough for the school’s most vocal critics, who want top-to-bottom reform.

“What transparency?” John Eddie Williams, a major donor and president of the Bears for Leadership Reform group, said Friday.

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