The July 6 announcement from regents’ Chairman Mark Rountree and university President Linda Livingstone outlined four charges given to the commission in the board’s quest to document and respond to historical roots of racism at the Baptist-affiliated university in Waco, Texas. The commission is to report to the board of regents no later than Dec. 20.
The commission will “review the complete historical record and context of the university and its founders and early leaders, including historical connections to slavery and racial injustice.” Then it will “propose a plan for documenting and communicating the complete history of Baylor and its founders and early leaders, including historical connections to slavery and racial injustice.” That will lead the group to “evaluate all statues, monuments, buildings and other aspects of campus within this complete historical context and in reference to the original intentions behind their physical location, placement and naming and provide observations for consideration.”
“We believe now is the time for Baylor, as a Christian university, to lead by listening and learning with humility about our past and from voices that have been unheard for years while also taking tangible steps forward,” Rountree and Livingstone said in a statement. “In addition to making an important and visible contribution to today’s campus and Baylor community, the commission’s work will create a lasting legacy for future generations of Baylor Bears.”
Three co-chairs were named to lead the group: Alicia D.H. Monroe, provost and senior vice president for academic and faculty affairs at Baylor College of Medicine and a member of the board of regents; Gary Mortenson, professor and dean of Baylor’s School of Music; and Walter Abercrombie, associate athletics director for Baylor “B” Association.
Members of the commission include seven current students, four current or past members of the board of regents, five university staff members and six faculty members. Among the student representatives are a member of the Black Student Union, an officer with the Baylor NAACP and the student body president. According to Baylor spokesperson Lori Fogleman, the commission’s racial and ethnic breakdown is 14 Blacks, two Hispanics, one Asian and nine Caucasians.