Paul L. Caron

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Baylor Retains Name And Statue Honoring Founder, Acknowledges His 'Sinful And Abhorrent' Slaveholding; University To Erect Statue Honoring First Two Black Graduates

Baylor University Releases Independent Report of Commission on Historic Campus Representations:

BaylorBaylor University today released the full independent and unedited report of the 26-member Commission on Historic Campus Representations, which was charged by the Baylor Board of Regents with independently reviewing and evaluating the historical record and context of the University and its early leaders solely related to slavery and the Confederacy. The Commission's report outlines recommendations for consideration by the Board regarding communicating the complete history of the University and its evaluation of all statues, monuments, buildings and other aspects of the campus within this historical context.

The institution will continue to be known as Baylor University, while the statue of namesake Judge R.E.B. Baylor will maintain its current location on Founders Mall.

Baylor also announced plans today to erect statues in recognition of trailblazing graduates Rev. Robert Gilbert, B.A. ’67, and Mrs. Barbara Walker, B.A. ’67, in front of Tidwell Bible Building, commemorating the two friends’ mutual standing as Baylor’s first Black graduates who helped integrate the University.

Historical Findings, Recommendations of the Commission on Historic Campus Representations

The Commission on Historic Campus Representations – comprised of 26 diverse individuals representing Baylor alumni, Regents, faculty, students and staff – was established as part of a unanimously passed resolution on racial healing and justice by the Board of the Regents on June 25, 2020, that acknowledged the University's historical connections to slavery and the Confederacy.

After officially accepting the Commission's final report at its February meeting, the Board charged the University Administration with developing a proposed action plan regarding the recommendations, all of which will be evaluated and considered thoroughly, as feasible and in accordance with existing Board policies and procedures.

"Today we find ourselves, as a Christian community and an institution of higher learning, with an important opportunity as we give consideration to the thoughtful observations and recommendations found within the final, independent report of the Commission on Historic Campus Representations," said Board Chair Mark Rountree, B.B.A. '86, M.T.A. '87, of Dallas. "I join my fellow Regents and President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., in sincere appreciation for the 26-member Commission’s tireless and noble work on behalf of the University and under the extraordinary leadership of co-chairs Regent Alicia D.H. Monroe, M.D., Dean of Music Gary Mortenson, D.M.A, and Associate Athletics Director Walter Abercrombie, B.S. '82, M.S.Ed. '92. This 90-plus-page document — being the result of a prayerful, scholarly and collaborative approach over an intensive, five-month period of time — is truly a gift to Baylor University.

"As we begin our important work in response to the Commission’s report, let me state that we are proud of the name of Baylor University. As you will read in the Commission’s report, Judge Baylor was not a perfect man. As a slaveholder, he engaged in a practice we know to be sinful and abhorrent. We do not justify or downplay the evil of slavery. With our University, Judge Baylor established the foundation for hundreds of thousands of students — which now include all races and creeds — to receive a unique educational experience that combines academic excellence and a Christian commitment. We will continue to recognize Judge Baylor for the founding of Baylor University, just as we commit to presenting a more complete history of the University," Rountree said.

"The resulting actions the Board and University ultimately will take will be guided solely by our Christian mission, anchored singularly in the Gospel’s pattern for redemption and reconciliation, and directed at fostering an environment through which racial equality is inextricably linked to our mission and in which students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends of color know they are valued and loved throughout the Baylor community," Rountree added.

Final Report:

As stated in the Final Report of the Commission on Historic Campus Representations, the Commission’s assessments and recommendations are grounded in the belief that racism in all its forms is inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus Christ and is therefore also inconsistent with Baylor’s Christian mission. Additionally, the group’s recommendations are intended to provide possibilities for taking significant actions, in a spirit of humility and with a goal of healing, that will create a physical environment on campus that tells the complete Baylor story, thereby advancing the cause of racial justice and creating a lasting legacy for future generations of Baylor Bears.

In developing its recommendations, the Commission was guided by the following set of principles:

  • Assessments of historic representations should include the complete historical context of individuals’ lives and the intentions for honoring them with monuments and other representations.
  • Recommendations should seek opportunities for redemptive and inclusive actions.
  • Recommendations should demonstrate the value, dignity and equality of every human being as
  • created and intended by God.
  • Recommendations should reflect Baylor’s commitment to speak the truth in love and to show true love by our actions.
  • Recommendations should offer actionable items both in the short term, to illustrate a commitment to change, and in the long term, to transform Baylor’s campus in a manner that tells the full story of Baylor’s history and honors all who contributed to the institution’s success.
  • Recommendations should bring Baylor closer to alignment with key elements of the University’s vision as articulated in Illuminate, specifically with regard to Christian Environment, wherein it states that our Baptist founders sought to establish an institution of higher learning that would “meet the needs of all ages to come.”
  • Recommendations should reflect a hope for the future — that all who find their home at Baylor University feel connected to its past and responsible for its future.

The Final Report of the Commission on Historic Campus Recommendations provides a summary of the history of each representation or area evaluated, current photos of each representation where helpful, and the recommendations of the Commission for each representation or area.

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