Staff writer Phillip Ericksen sat down with Baylor interim President David Garland on Monday, his first sit-down interview with the Trib since taking the reins as interim president for the second time in less than a decade.
Below is the transcript of their conversation.
Q Has it been a busy couple of weeks for you?
A Well, not a couple. I just started officially I think on Thursday, so I went to the Big 12 directors meeting, which was very good. I really appreciate the presidents, very kind, and understanding our problem. (University of Oklahoma President) David Boren is a former teacher and is very much a friend. So that’s when I started, and I’m trying to write letters in between. I was involved in briefings Tuesday, then I started officially on Wednesday.
Q What are some of your immediate plans?
A The absolute immediate plan is to implement all of the recommendations that are in this Pepper Hamilton report. There are 105, and we have already made incredible progress on some of these. There are 105 things that we have to remedy. They call them recommendations, (but) I consider them to be mandates that we are going to fix this, so this will not happen again. Baylor should be a place that is safe for all students. (PDF: View the 105 recommendations)
Q The fact that the board unanimously approved those recommendations, is that also an added motivation?
A When they unanimously approved them, it means it becomes a mandate for everyone at the university to make sure that they are fully implemented, and we are investing considerably in this. We call it the sexual assault task force, with the director of the special projects and initiatives, Brandyn Hicks, I’m having, I decided today, having her moved right down here next door to me. This is how important this is. She is outstanding, I don’t know if you’ve talked with her?
Q I haven’t.
A She is outstanding, and a lawyer, and to me this is so very important. She’s gonna be right here. We have 10 implementation task force teams. These are not planning. We’ve got our marching orders from Pepper Hamilton. This is an incredible report. But we have 10 task forces that are going to be implementing these recommendations. So we’re not going to sit around and talk about these things for another month or two months. We know what we have to do. And the buck stops here in the president’s office, always. I’m held responsible that these things are implemented.
Q So there are 10 task forces, and Reagan Ramsower is in charge of the executive-level task force?
A There is the action team, and so the members of the action team are Reagan Ramsower; Chris Holmes, who is interim general counsel; Brandyn Hicks, who is director; (Title IX Coordinator) Patty Crawford. But Brandyn Hicks is really over all of this to make sure this happens. The implementations team, we’d be glad to give them to you. It’s boring as all get-out. We have an implementation team dealing with infrastructure resources, protocols, one on counseling on advocacy, we have one on faculty/staff/student engagement, drug/alcohol policy, student conduct information system, athletics enrollment transfer and recruitment policy.
Everyone in the university is involved in this. I mean not everyone, but it draws from across the spectrum of university faculty and staff. So this is not simply one person doing this. Reagan Ramsower is the CFO and that’s his primary responsibility. We all are going to be trying to move ahead. What this Pepper Hamilton report did, and I’m incredibly proud of our regents for being so transparent in the sense that this is the report. There is no other secret report out there. This is the report, and making it public was incredibly courageous on their part, because we knew we were going to take hits. As a Christian university, one of the things Christians believe is in sin and confession of sin, and we confessed we failed in these areas. The report says ‘why, where did we do this,’ and then we’re going to try and fix them. Right now that’s all I know what to do. That’s what we’re going to be focusing on.
Q In the letter you sent on Friday, you referenced an oral presentation that Pepper Hamilton had given, but this was before the findings were released.
A I don’t know all the things, but from what I’ve been told, Pepper Hamilton gave briefings to the regents. The president was there. I think this happened twice. One of the important things is that they told stories. These are not part of a report that ‘here are just the facts.’ The stories have a power in themselves. But we have to protect the students who were victims, who are now survivors, from ever being harmed in any further way and protect their privacy because they came and reported courageously on the condition that this would be anonymous. So I heard briefings myself on Tuesday (and) Wednesday. They’re extremely moving, but we cannot, legally, make that public. But for me what’s most important is protecting the privacy of survivors in every way we can.
Q (But) some people are saying, ‘what if you were to redact (victims’ names and identifying information)?’
A Even if you redact, we’re in a small community. People can fill in the blanks. Frankly, that Pepper Hamilton report, you know, if you took all the case notes and stuff, and redacted out the names, you basically have what we have in the Pepper Hamilton report. It was very clear. What I’ve heard secondhand, and I do not know this, the survivors have said, ‘I read my story in this and I thank you for protecting my identity.’
People are probably interested in sordid, salacious details. We’re interested in protecting these victims, who are now survivors. Even if they come out publicly and give their accounts, it does not mean that we are able to do so. I have a letter, I know we’ve sent it to the Trib, from the United States Department of Education about the University of Virginia. They violated the law by coming out with details in that case. It’s entirely up to the survivors, but we are bound by the law.
Q In the stories that may name some of the higher-level employees that were let go last week, are those people protected by privacy laws? Are you able to release information on employees if they may have been named in any of this stuff?
A We don’t generally release personnel details. I think the Waco Trib would do the same thing. The reality is, we have findings of fact and the persons who are at the top are held responsible. The president used the image of the captain of the ship goes down. The difference is then that metaphor, the ship’s not sinking. But in the Harry Truman idea, “the buck stops here.” I, personally, if any of these things happen, I expect to be removed from office. That’s just for me, personally. Particularly when I’ve got these findings of fact that cannot be ignored, and pointing out where we failed, and now the recommendations. We’ve got to work on those kinds of things.
What we’re concentrating on now is making sure that this never happens again. As a Christian university, we have the highest standards. It doesn’t mean we won’t fail, but we have the highest standards all across the board. I feel like it’s evident in the hiring of our new coach. Tributes across the board that this is an outstanding guy, no nonsense, and we’re going to have zero tolerance for any of this type of behavior, so that parents can feel safe in sending their daughter here or their son here. I was at the Big 12 Conference (meetings last week) and some folks from New York who were consultants there said, ‘Everyone expected that Baylor would try to cover this up,’ and they’re amazed that we did not. To me I’m very grateful to the courage of the regents for doing this. You cover it up, you don’t fix the problem, and it just keeps popping up. All I can concentrate on is the future. This is what we’re going to be doing.
Q I know you have a great relationship with the faculty senate, even from your previous time as interim. Have faculty members been asking for any more to be released?
A I have not met with the faculty senate, so I honestly don’t know what they’ve been asking for. I’m sorry I can’t answer that. But the faculty senate, we’re all involved in this. The reality is there’s nothing more to be released. This Pepper Hamilton report — I don’t know if you’ve read it — is pretty damning. So there’s nothing more that I know of that can be released.
Q I also wanted to ask you about your previous time as interim president. You received some very high marks; do you have any interest in being a permanent president?
A No. My wife (Diana Garland, who passed away in September) and I were really preparing after this year to be retired. One of the reasons I accepted this, I mean, I was in my home in Colorado. It’s a beautiful place. I’m surrounded by moose and elk, snow-capped mountains, it’s 20 degrees in morning. It warms up. But the reason I accepted this was because I felt an extreme debt to the regents, in particular the chairman of the regents, for the way they honored my wife by naming the school after her while she was still alive. The second reason, I think, was because I wanted to honor the regents also because of the way they were so courageous in being transparent, from my point of view.
The third reason just dawned on me this weekend: My wife did a lot of research in clergy sexual abuse. She’d become a national expert on that, and I felt like it would be a way to honor her if I can help in some way to implement these kinds of task forces, to prevent any kind of sexual abuse happening on this campus. So that’s why I’m doing it. One of the things I think is important is, I like the title “interim” because it keeps you humble. If you walk down that hallway and see all those portraits, none of them were permanent presidents. We are all interim in this life. So I have a sense of duty to do the best I can bringing this community together and helping us work together to fix these problems. Baylor is a great place. You know there are great professors. I feel many of us were brokenhearted, shocked, confused by what happened, but we’re gonna move on.
Q In your previous time as interim, there was a faculty issue going on. Then-Provost Elizabeth Davis said you developed a mutual respect between faculty and administration. What did you learn from that experience, and what is needed from the Baylor presidency now?
A Well, I think what is needed from this office is that we are going to address all of the issues raised by Pepper Hamilton. That Baylor is an outstanding educational institution, and one of the things we need to convey is that we’re all in this as an educational experience to try and inculcate character in our students. I’m not sure what else (I can) say. People might have different ideas of what they need. I don’t need this job. I don’t need the money. It is out of purely out of a sense of duty. If people want me to leave, that’s fine.
Somebody said, ‘You must really love Baylor.’ I’m not a Baylor alumni. Institutions don’t love, but I do love the people here. And I love what Baylor stands for as a group of people. I want to change the name “Baylor Nation” to “Baylor Family.” My wife and I wrote a book, the last book we wrote together was “Flawed Families of the Bible: How God’s Grace Works Through Imperfect Relationships.” I understand that when you think of family, we’re a flawed family. But you had prodigal sons, you have priggish elder brothers, but ultimately we have a loving father. That’s the imagery that I’d like to use from now on if they’ll let me.
Q What are some of your other goals as interim president?
A Right now, this is just so overwhelming. I think we’re gonna continue (former President Ken Starr’s strategic plan) Pro Futuris. Those lay out (Baylor’s goals) clearly, we have not forgotten these things. This particular thing can seem to overwhelm that. But all of the goals set forth, the visions set forth in Pro Futuris, I’m going to do everything I can to help us accomplish those, as we did with (Baylor) 2012, with the one exception of coming up with a $2 billion endowment. That means increasing our educational profile, graduate school, etc., because as interim provost, that was my primary assignment.
Q I also wanted to ask you about the diversity initiative.
A I’m going to be meeting with (Special Assistant to the President on Diversity) Liz Palacios this week, as soon as possible. I was out of touch on the diversity initiative. The one thing I was extremely proud of is in our hiring. When I was interim provost, I would be in interviews for the persons, particularly in high-profile jobs. I always knew about every faculty member that was hired. I was the one that signed off on it, ultimately. But we have worked hard on diversity. Waco is not the easiest place to recruit people. I’m very proud of a hire we have in the chair of biology who’s coming from UCLA, who’s a Harvard grad and been on Fulbright this last year.
One of the hardest things was, ‘How will I fit in this community, not at Baylor, but in the community of Waco?’ I grew up in a diverse environment. One of the things, when I first came to Baylor, the seminary was downtown at First Baptist Church. You go around campus now, it’s a whole different picture.
One of the things we need to do, is our diverse students now need to go out and get their credentials, and we bring them back. That takes time. My hope is they will love being at Baylor so much they will want to come back. I just got an email from Dominic Edwards who was the student government president, and then was an assistant to the president, he’s now in D.C. He’s the kind of person that represents our diversity who we are so proud of, and hope he will contribute to helping us increase our diversity in the faculty and staff.
Q Have you spoken with Judge Starr?
A I emailed Judge Starr before I was going to the Big 12 meetings. There were three things he was supposed to report on that I did not have any information about. So I’ve only emailed with him, not talked to him personally.
Q Was that expansion committee one of them?
A That was one of the issues, absolutely. He was one of three, with David Boren and Gordon Gee at West Virginia.
Q How did the Big 12 meetings go?
A We received exhausting data on the advantage of having a Big 12 championship game, and exhausting data on the advantage of expanding the Big 12. I mean, details. It’s a very collegial group, I’ve found. Here I am, an interim, on the first, second day on the job, but very interesting. There were two other interims, so three out of the 10 were interim. It really helped for me go into that having that previous experience. I’m not intimidated by being around that circle.
Q Going back to Pepper Hamilton, in what ways do Pro Futuris and the Pepper Hamilton recommendations overlap?
A Well, right now I’ve not looked at the overlaps. There are 105 recommendations, I counted three times because I felt like I was losing count. If they overlap, Pro Futuris is general. These are very, very specific. The general recommendations in Pro Futuris give us guidelines, but then we have to fill in the blanks, and frankly, the reason Pro Futuris was not as specific as (Baylor) 2012, and (Baylor) 2012 was very specific, was because we need to have some leeway, ‘Alright, this happens, if someone gives us this kind of money, we can go this direction,’ etc. It sets us in the right direction, and we will be doing another Pro Futuris. The dangers are, you do this and you put it on the shelf. We keep being guided by that.
Q You mentioned (last week) you were interim provost when Patty Crawford was hired. She is at the center of a lot of this.
A I cannot think of anybody I respect more and could be more ideal for this position. I was (there) in the end when she was being interviewed as the candidate. One of the things that Pepper Hamilton points out is that we did not give this office the proper infrastructure to carry out what she needed to do. One of the things was that I was very naive. I just assume, I’m a minister, so I assume these things don’t happen, but one of the things that happens when you now start this office is that all of a sudden she was overwhelmed, much to my chagrin and, frankly, surprise.
Pepper Hamilton points out very clearly that we failed in helping in establishing the proper infrastructure. We’ve now taken enormous steps to correct that with hiring of investigators, hiring of counselors and also having external adjudicators, that this is not going go through normal student disciplinary processes. The criticism of the student disciplinary process was that they tended to be, they ran things “by the book.”
Without having training in trauma and what happens to students who have experienced this kind of assault, and now everyone is going to be trained in that. So I cannot think of a better person. She came from Ohio State, I cannot think of a better person for this role. She’s extremely gifted, she’s extremely compassionate. I could tell stories of what she did for some of the survivors — we can’t publicize this — that will not be recognized. It was above and beyond what she was required to do. But I cannot think of anybody better. We can’t replace her. She stepped into a beehive, and one of the things people talk about handling beehives is smoke. We are not using smoke, we’re clearing the air. We’re going to get stung, and we’ve been stung. I don’t know if you’ve had time to interview her.
Q I’ve spoken with her over the phone.
A She is incredibly passionate about her work. It is truly a vocation, and I couldn’t do what she does. I would be overwhelmed.
Q I was thinking about how much Baylor has grown ...
A Yes, 17,000 students now. Have you seen the study, I don’t want to get off topic because this is about Baylor, but have you seen the study that just came out? North Carolina State just came out that 50 percent of intercollegiate and recreational athletes confessed to compelling someone to have sex with them. That just came out this week. This is a societal problem. We have to deal with Baylor. This article by (Tribune-Herald sports clerk) Glynn (Beaty), I could not have written this better. This is right on target. He hits the nail on the head all the way through, and I’m extraordinarily grateful to him. “Baylor is still a place that offers an excellent education in a caring, nurturing environment that challenges mental, spiritual and emotional growth.”
That’s what we still are. We failed, we recognize it, we confess. I personally offer the empathy to these survivors. I want to protect them as much as possible, do everything we can to heal them. However, I know that even when healing comes, it comes a long time, there will still be scars. But Baylor is still this place.
Q Do you feel like the Title IX Office and the counseling centers are now on par with the rest of the growth at Baylor?
A If they aren’t, we will make them. I cannot make that judgment now, but the goal is, here’s number one: Implementation team, Title IX infrastructure, resources, internal protocols, revision of Title IX policy review of resources to support, create first responders to protocols, enhanced communication. This is number one. We did not respond as quickly as we should.
I was fascinated by Bob Bowlsby, the incredible Big 12 commissioner. He told me in private that private institutions like Stanford and Baylor seem to have more difficulty in implementing. I don’t know exactly why, but the state schools have more people overlooking them. We delayed in recognizing the problem as quickly as we should have. But, we have, with alacrity, we are working now to fix that. Whatever it takes.
Q What else have you learned from your last round as interim?
A What I learned is to maintain an equilibrium, because something wonderful would happen in the morning and you’d be exultant. And then after lunch something terrible would happen. It’s part of the job.
I came into a crisis (the first time as interim), and now I feel like I’m coming into a crisis but we’ve just got (good people) — I just met (Baylor spokeswoman) Tonya (Lewis) today and she’s absolutely incredible. She represents the kind of people we have at Baylor. I wouldn’t do this if it weren’t for these kinds of leaders and faculty and staff.
The hardest part for me is that I was back to teaching last semester. I love my students. I love teaching. They apparently love me because they oversubscribe for my classes. I am an academic. I’m in the middle of writing my 24th book. It’s a commentary on Romans. The only way I will survive this is because I will work on that. It’s my lifeline kind of thing.
But this is truly great people at a great place with great students, and I think we’re going to restore athletic integrity to our program. It’s not as dire as some people may think it’d be. You know that if our football team had gone 7-5 for every year, we’d still be thrilled.
Q The new coach (Jim Grobe) seems like a stand-up guy ...
A He is everything I read. I met him once very briefly. He is definitely a stand-up guy. I appreciate (former athletic director) Ian (McCaw) so much for finding him. I appreciate the coach for wanting to come into this. I’m hopeful that we will also do well in our sports, but Baylor is not a sports industry. We are an educational institution, and one of the things that I want as the measure of a great institution is not its record in athletics, but the record of the graduates: the character that they demonstrate and they leave Baylor University and they make their contributions to society.
So here is a coach who believes that we need to instill character in the athletes. He’s not just a football coach, he is a life coach for these athletes. They are student-athletes.
Q Does Todd Patulski have an interim title now?
A I think it’s sufficient to say deputy AD. I don’t know what deputy means, but it means he is the AD during this time. I was with him during this week. Highly respected, very gifted. I think he has the trust of the coaches. I love Todd and I think he’s very gifted at his job. Enormous respect for Ian McCaw and was closely related to him. All of this is very heartbreaking for us, but now we have to move on, and we are.