Ad Unitatem: Toward Unity

September 22, 2021
Ad Unitatem

Message from the Special Advisor to the President for Equity and Campus Engagement, Malcolm B. Foley

It has been rightly said that talent is equally distributed, but opportunity is not. If there is one thing you must know about the work of building a just and equitable community at Baylor University, it is this: diversity and inclusion mean little without equity and accountability. The presence of men and women with multiple ethnicities, abilities and ages does not, in and of itself, signal progress. Presence must be paired with a community that is willing to hold itself accountable to the promises of equity it makes. As we look into the coming year, Baylor’s leadership is continuing to put actions behind the words.

Among our student body, in the past week we saw the first cohort of Trailblazer Scholars, Baylor students who follow in the legacy of the students and faculty of color who began the long, often arduous work of integrating an institution like Baylor — a work that continues, culturally, even to this day. Among Baylor’s faculty and staff, we have started focused leadership training; this is the pilot year of the AIM Leadership Collective, raising up, especially, faculty and staff of color who aspire to be leaders in the Baylor community. Across campus, the Campus Experience Project Team is seeking to implement the recommendations of the Commission on Historic Campus Representations, as we seek to tell the full and complicated history of Baylor University. But it is important that these are not seen as isolated incidents and initiatives. Rather, they flow out of our Christian mission. Baylor seeks to be committed to just policies, processes and practices because Christ has called us to love our neighbors and to act justly. As with all of Christ’s commands, sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail, but we persevere. 

To that end, alongside faculty, staff and students like yourself across campus, we will be developing a University-wide strategic plan on diversity and equity that will address our institutional commitment to build a Christian community in which everyone, regardless of gender, race, color, age, or disability, has the resources to do their work well. The metrics and guidance will hopefully provide the Baylor Family with a common language that can push us forward. After all, it’s difficult to have a conversation when you speak different languages. Yet this work is also an investment and proclamation of the fact that positive culture-building requires both words and resources. 

John’s ecstatic vision in Revelation 7:9 is a joyful one: a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, crying out, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” It is our active hope that we can experience a community of that unity even here, even now. We will communicate shortly about how you can get involved. Join us in the work!

Continuous Improvement

Baylor University continues to implement a variety of initiatives designed to create a more equitable and compassionate campus. It’s a demonstration of the University’s commitment to making continuous improvements in all areas of Baylor’s operations and institutional programming as we seek to become the preeminent Christian research university.

  • Those who have recently visited the historic part of the Baylor campus may have noticed new signage titled “Moving Forward as the Baylor Family,” as well as QR codes placed adjacent to several statues and monuments. These QR codes direct users to several elements of Baylor's complete history as a result of the work of the Commission on Historic Campus Representations that reviewed the University’s historical record and context of its early leaders related to statues, monuments, buildings and other areas of campus. These actions form an interim, but important step forward as we continue reckoning with our past and considering the Commission's thoughtful recommendations.
  • On September 9, Baylor welcomed the inaugural cohort of 25 Trailblazer Scholars during a reception in the Barfield Drawing Room. Designed to recognize the importance of fostering diversity and mutual respect at Baylor University, the Trailblazer Scholars scholarship program emerged as part of Baylor’s commitment to listen, learn and take actionable steps regarding racial healing and justice in America. The inaugural Gilbert-Walker cohort of Trailblazer Scholars is named after Baylor’s first Black graduates, Rev. Robert Gilbert, BA '67, and Mrs. Barbara Walker, BA '67. The group of 25 students represents both incoming first-year students and upper-level students who are committed to advancing racial equity, diversity and a sense of belonging on our campus and who will participate in leadership and service opportunities through Baylor’s Department of Multicultural Affairs and other programs on campus. The University launched the program in July 2020 with an initial investment of $5 million in scholarship support. Since then, parents, alumni and friends have given an additional $2.2 million to support this important University priority.

Students in the inaugural Gilbert-Walker cohort are:

  • Anu Agbi, junior, Houston, Texas, majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Leadership
  • Erin Babatunde, sophomore, Folcroft, Pennsylvania, majoring in Public Health
  • Israel Beverly, sophomore, Beaumont, Texas, majoring in Public Health
  • Maddie Brenner, freshman, Corpus Christi, Texas, majoring in Business
  • Forche Bridges, senior, Fresno, Texas, majoring in Film & Digital Media with double minors in Creative Writing and Media Management
  • Tiera Cleveland, senior, Jacksonville, Florida, majoring in Psychology
  • Sophie Despres, freshman, Cypress, Texas, majoring in Pre-Nursing
  • Sophie Geiger, freshman, Dallas, Texas, majoring in Pre-Nursing with a minor in Business Administration 
  • Morghan Golloher, freshman, Overland Park, Kansas, majoring in Medical Humanities and minoring in Business Administration
  • Simone Henry, freshman, Katy, Texas, majoring in Neuroscience
  • Logan Jackson, sophomore, Fairview, Texas, majoring in Psychology 
  • Victoria Jackson, freshman, Grand Prairie, Texas, majoring in Business Entrepreneurship with a minor in Apparel Merchandising 
  • Eric Jaramillo, freshman, Corpus Christi, Texas, majoring in Biology
  • Peyton Johnson, freshman, Lantana, Texas, double majoring in Physics and Chemistry with a minor in Mathematics
  • Berg Guillaume Jones, freshman, Dallas, Texas, majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in either French or Leadership
  • Dalshawn Jones, senior, New Orleans, Louisiana, majoring in Sociology with a minor in International Studies
  • Connie Mendoza, senior, McGregor, Texas, majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders
  • Stephanie Mendoza, junior, Waco, Texas, majoring in Accounting
  • Hailey Minn, freshman, Frisco, Texas, majoring in Business
  • Sam Onilenla, senior, Aurora, Colorado, majoring in Management and Marketing 
  • Ana Robles, freshman, Maui, Hawaii, majoring in Pre-Med Biology with a minor in Child Development
  • Lydia Samuel, junior, Dallas, Texas, majoring in Nursing 
  • Genesis Santos, freshman, Waco, Texas, majoring in Elementary Education
  • Makayla Williams, freshman, Humble, Texas, majoring in Professional Writing and Rhetoric and minoring in Corporate Communications
  • Lauren Young, junior, Atlanta, Georgia, majoring in Biology and minoring in French