On Friday afternoon, Interim President David Garland sent out a long email to Baylor Nation calling for unification and clarifying several statements made over the past week. Here are some takeaways from his email:
He wants Baylor Nation to come together during this time in both prayer and action.
"It is a season that calls for Baylor to stand together and speak as one voice, resolute in our shared commitment to student welfare and safety and to our institutional values."
His main focus is on making Baylor a safe place for everyone who attends the university.
"Baylor's priority is to make our campus, and beyond, safe for our more than 16,000 students. We acknowledge our failures in the past and take responsibility for them, and we have already taken steps to ensure that we are in compliance with Title IX, the Jeanne Clery Act, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 and other state and federal obligations. Our aim is to set the highest standards in this area."
He made sure to note that former president Ken Starr was present for both the Pepper Hamilton briefing in February and the recent one in May.
"Pepper Hamilton delivered to both the full Board of Regents and then-president Ken Starr a briefing in February and again in May. Ken Starr was present for both briefings, which included presentation of the Findings of Fact, as released publicly, and discussion of the specific facts that supported the identified incidences of failure over the years studied. Neither Ken Starr nor Pepper Hamilton was a part of the Board's deliberations."
Garland emphasized that Pepper Hamilton never prepared a report of its findings. Starr and the Board of Regents received the information in the form of an oral presentation.
"In recent days, various voices have called for the release of the "full report." Pepper Hamilton's report was delivered in the form of an oral presentation that fully and comprehensively presented the individual and aggregated findings and the evidence supporting the findings. The Findings of Fact and Recommendations, which were released publicly in a format that protected the privacy of individuals, fully reflect the facts and core failings identified in the investigation. The findings revealed clear opportunities for Baylor to improve."
He is confident in the accuracy of the Pepper Hamilton investigation and goes on to note that the law firm independently contacted the victims involved.
"Pepper Hamilton, our external investigators, had the freedom to follow the facts where they led and to determine those facts without any interference by University administration or the Board. Pepper Hamilton's report was impartial and objective, and they did not hold back in their assessment. This firm was selected by our Board of Regents for its credibility and expertise in investigations of sexual violence. We fully trust the validity of its investigation. They had access to all requested documents and any Baylor employee they requested to interview. They independently reached out to and heard from brave survivors who assisted the investigation by sharing their experiences. We respect survivors' freedom to choose whether, when and how to share their experiences and will support survivors who choose to share their experiences publicly. The details of these individuals' experiences will not be discussed publicly by the University. We hurt for these students and deeply appreciate their willingness to speak with Pepper Hamilton as part of this review. Their insights and participation will help us better address these issues in the future."
A task force has been established to implement the changes suggested by Pepper Hamilton.
"Baylor's leadership is committed to doing all we can to implement change that leads to improved processes, communication, training, prevention, and response. An Executive-Level Task Force, led by Dr. Reagan Ramsower, senior vice president and chief operating officer, and implementation groups composed of members of Baylor's faculty, staff and administration will build on significant improvements made in recent years by acting promptly to address Pepper Hamilton's recommendations. A second Executive-Level Task Force, led by Dr. Greg Jones, executive vice president and provost, will focus on spiritual life and the cultivation of character across the university."
Click here for a complete version of Interim President Garland's letter.