Group calls for transparency of Baylor Board of Regents

Posted at 1:15 PM, Nov 10, 2016
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:30:31-04

A group called Bears for Leadership Reform is calling for improved transparency from the Board of Regents in reference to the handling of sexual assault investigation.

On Thursday, Bears for Leadership Reform board members, including major supporter and benefactor Drayton McLane, former governor Mark White and former state representative Stan Schlueter, announced the kick off of a campaign that aims to restore integrity to the campus.

Schlueter said the group wants to get the attention of the board to spark change.

"[We’re] trying to make them understand that the Baylor family is very unhappy. That there is no transparency. We believe we have been lied to,” Schlueter said. “Even if they were telling us the truth we wouldn't know that. So there is no trust factor there."

Nearly 350 people, mostly Baylor alumni, attended the event which was held at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum.

The campaign is requesting for the facts of the Title IX investigation and Pepper Hamilton Report to be released. In addition, they are asking for a transformation of the Board of Regents related to transparency, appointments, conflicts-of-interests and authority.

“The Board’s secrecy and innuendos have not served the university or the Baylor Family,” Bears for Leadership Reform Board Member and Baylor alumnus James Nortey said. “The truth must be told. We cannot heal or move forward without it.”

When the group was asked whether it wanted for the regents to be replaced, the crowd replied ‘yes’ before Baylor alumnus John Eddie-Williams replied to the question.

Williams who is now an attorney said in order to decide whether some of the regents should be replaced, the Baylor family must know the facts first.

Other group members like Nortey said one option could be changing the board of regents with one that is more diverse and representative of the Baylor family. Schlueter also said the board should be more diverse and smaller in size.

In addition, the group wants the search for the Baylor president to be open and have input from the Baylor family.

It would also like to develop and implement what they refer to as best-in-class Title IX and sexual assault response program.

Williams said one of the things the group is not focusing on is athletics.

“Our focus is not on the football team. That they may be a symptom of the problem but we don't know. The buck stops with the board. That's where our focus is at the very top, at the board,” Williams said.

When asked whether the group wanted the reinstatement of fired football coach Art Briles, he said that was not the focus of the group.

Speaking on his own, McLane told the Associated Press he wants to see the honor of football coach Art Briles restored. In addition, he said he wanted the Board of Regents to release any evidence that led to the coach's dismissal. 

On Wednesday, the Baylor University Board of Regents announced the formation of a new Governance Review Task Force to assess and recommend improvements in how it can improve its practices, procedures and selection process.

"This Task Force will be a part of an important governance review that has been done on a regular basis for the past several years," Chair of the Board of Regents Ron Murff said. "We want to ensure we continue to take positive steps in fulfilling our fiduciary responsibilities and in doing our best for Baylor."

On Thursday, Murff released a letter to the Baylor family explaining the need to keep the university’s mission in their minds.

“Rather than stay silent, the University's senior leadership recognized that the Baylor Family deserved to know more about the magnitude of the problem and about the reasons why we responded so forcefully to the Pepper Hamilton findings,” Murff said in the letter.

He added the university took sweeping actions to ensure students will never have to wonder whether Baylor supports them if they’re victimized in any way.

“The University has made dramatic improvements in our response to sexual violence – and those efforts will continue,” Murff said.

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