Ad Unitatem: Toward Unity

June 29, 2022
Ad Unitatem: Toward Unity

Message from the Special Advisor to the President, Malcolm B. Foley, Ph.D.

There are four major elements to an institution: its policies, its processes, its practices and its people. This matrix informs us as to whether or not an institution is just, but the most powerful of these four elements is the people, and Baylor’s greatest assets are its people. This summer, as we hopefully gain a bit of a respite from the school year, I want to celebrate the work of some of the people in our midst and look forward to the work to come.

I had the distinct honor of serving as the executive sponsor of the AIM Collective for its first year. AIM was and continues to be a leadership development program that supports leaders from underrepresented groups at Baylor. Developed by the Black Faculty and Staff Association and supported by Baylor HR, this program is one institutional example of investing in one’s people for the flourishing of the institution. If you would like to apply for this year’s program, the application can be accessed here and is available until July 15. I especially want to name this year’s exceptional cohort, a group of leaders whom Baylor is profoundly privileged to have:

    Dr. Cindy Wu
    Dr. Crystal Diaz-Espinoza
    Dr. Dominique Hill
    Dr. Forest Kim
    Mr. Geoffrey Griggs
    Ms. Jeronda Robinson
    Ms. Kaneisha Lloyd
    Dr. Lisa Jones
    Mr. Sahr Mbriwa
    Ms. Teresa Tucker
    Dr. Tisha Emerson
    Ms. Tranquility Cowan
    Dr. Xin Wang

Each cohort is mentored by an exceptional group of leaders who share their time and experience with the AIM Collective participants. Thank you to the mentors who joined our first cohort on this journey:

    Dr. Lori Baker
    Dr. Sandeep Mazumder
    Dr. Emily Hunter
    Dr. Kim Kellison
    Ms. Leah Jackson Teague
    Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez
    Mr. Jeffry Archer
    Dr. Jon Singletary
    Dr. Jeremy Vickers
    Dr. John White
    Ms. Michelle Kiefer
    Dr. Lenore Wright
    Ms. Jill Van Zee

There are two individuals on Baylor’s campus who have given years of time and blood, sweat and tears to the work of diversity and equity: Dr. Lori Baker and Dr. Elizabeth Palacios. Both will be sorely missed in their roles as Dr. Baker moves back to the faculty and as Dr. Palacios retires. They set paradigms in the Provost’s Office and Student Life, respectively, that substantively and materially supported students, faculty and staff across the University. They are two of the giants upon whose shoulders those who are committed to diversity and equity at Baylor stand.

Lastly, I am elated at Provost Brickhouse’s recent hire of Stephen B. Reid, Ph.D., as Vice Provost for Faculty Diversity and Belonging. I am especially eager to partner with him in the work of shaping Baylor into a comprehensively just and welcoming institution.

Work on Baylor’s policies, processes and practices is far-reaching and important, but it has little meaning without faithful people to follow through. These individuals are but a portion of the riches that the Baylor team is blessed to have.

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 bring a Christian voice to the table among the nation’s leading universities as a preeminent Christian research university.

  • On May 10, Baylor hosted the Cultural Connections Celebration at Truett Seminary to celebrate the notable efforts of many faculty, staff and students who championed diversity at Baylor. Sponsored by the Campus Diversity Committee, the event recognized the accomplishments of Geoffrey Griggs and his involvement with Males Inspiring Success Through Education and Relationship (MISTER), as well as Dr. Dominque Hill and his work with the Black Faculty and Staff Association, Staff Council and the Commission on Historic Campus Representations.

  • In May, the Baylor Board of Regents approved the outline of a plan that will address many of the priorities identified by the Commission on Historic Campus Representations last year — recommendations designed to more fully tell the history of the University and its early leaders while also telling parts of Baylor’s history that were previously untold. The bulk of the plan addresses Founders Mall and Burleson Quadrangle. A few highlights:
    • An area will be added on Founders Mall recognizing the unknown enslaved people who are connected to Baylor’s founding and original campus. This space will be designed as a place of reflection, with water and light features.
    • Burleson Quadrangle will be renamed simply “The Quadrangle” (a name already widely used on campus), and the Rufus Burleson Monument will be moved to a less prominent location nearby (between Georgia Burleson Hall and Draper).
    • A series of enhancements to the Quad are aimed at making it a more usable and accessible gathering space for students: a larger event plaza in the center, terraced seating along Fifth Street, tables and chairs under the live oaks, better Wi-Fi coverage and a more accessible, connected entry from Fifth Street.
    • In addition to the previously announced statues of Robert Gilbert and Barbara Walker (Baylor’s first Black graduates), Speight Avenue will be turned into a pedestrian plaza from Fifth to Eighth Street, similar to the stretch of Fifth Street in front of the Bill Daniel Student Center (SUB) and Quadrangle.
  • During the national commemoration of Juneteenth, Baylor faculty and staff joined in partnerships within the community and shared in events that highlighted the meaning of freedom and the struggle to become a more perfect union. Events ranged from hosting the Mr. and Miss Juneteenth Scholarship Pageant at Waco Hall and participating in the annual Juneteenth parade in Waco, hosted by the Cen-Tex African American Chamber of Commerce, to sharing stories about the history of Juneteenth and memories captured in Baylor’s oral history archive and engaging partners from across campus to participate in the Juneteenth Family Fun Day at Brazos Park East.