WACO—Baylor University’s board of regents announced plans to make public the minutes and agendas of all future meetings, but a group of donors and alumni calling for reform at the university wants more.
Bears for Leadership Reform—which includes high-profile donors such as Drayton McLane of Temple and John Eddie Williams of Houston—issued a call Nov. 18 for the regents immediately to release all minutes and agendas from the past five years. The Baylor Bears’ football team plays in a stadium named for McLane and on a field named for Williams.
Board chair pledges increased transparency
In a Nov. 15 update posted on the webpage Baylor created to provide information about its response to reports of sexual violence, Regents Chair Ron Murff wrote, “We are committed to taking immediate action to increase transparency such as posting agendas and minutes of our quarterly meetings.”
Murff also noted the Nov. 9 creation of a governance review task force that will recommend changes to board practices and procedures.
“We have heard the concerns of our community and pledge to listen and respond to calls for increased transparency and accountability,” Murff wrote.
Regarding the creation of Bears for Leadership Reform, he stated, “We welcome and embrace their recommendations for more transparent leadership.”
‘Not nearly enough or timely enough’
Williams, a Houston attorney who serves on the board of Bears for Leadership Reform, characterized the regents’ response as inadequate.
“The recent announcement by the board of regents is a step in the right direction, but it is not nearly enough or timely enough,” Williams said. “This is just a small, symbolic gesture on the part of the board of regents. What the Baylor family deserves is the full truth—not just bits and pieces dribbled out every few weeks as directed by the board’s California PR firm.”
Ad appears in Waco newspaper
Bears for Leadership Reform purchased a full-page advertisement in the Nov. 19 Waco Tribune-Herald saying, “The Baylor family deserves the facts.”
The ad states: “It’s time for the board of regents to tell the Baylor family the whole truth about recent tragedies and fully explain its decisions. There’s been too much secrecy. We want transparency. There’s been too much innuendo. We want accountability at the top.
“This is not about football. This is not about a single person. And this cannot be about protecting the brand or the board. This is about restoring integrity in our university. This is about rebuilding trust in our leadership. This is about making sure nothing like this ever happens again. We are calling all Bears to join us today and make your voice heard. We are 10,000 strong and growing.”
The advertisement appeared nine days after Bears for Leadership Reform held its inaugural public meeting in Waco. Speakers at that event included former Texas Gov. Mark White and legendary Baylor football Coach Grant Teaff, who led the opening prayer.