BU reform group calls for sweeping changes in regent selection

(Baylor University photo/file)
(Baylor University photo/file)(KWTX)
Published: Jan. 18, 2017 at 1:29 PM CST
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Bears for Leadership Reform called Wednesday for major changes in the way Baylor University regents are chosen and the way the Board of Regents does business.,

“These governance and transparency reforms require the Regents to conduct business out in the open and the members themselves to be truly representative of the Baylor Family," BLR Board Member Liza Firmin said.

"These reforms will help re-establish the Baylor family’s confidence in the decisions of the board," she said.

The reform group, which was formed in response to the university’s handling of the sexual assault scandal that engulfed Baylor’s football program, was discussing details of the plan during a teleconference Wednesday afternoon.

The Baylor board currently has 34 voting members including three who are alumni-elected as the result of a settlement agreement in a lawsuit that Baylor filed against the Baylor Alumni Association, which is now called the Baylor Line Foundation.

Of the remaining 31, 25 percent are technically appointed by the Baptist General Convention of Texas, but the current board controls that process and can veto any BGCT appointee.

The other 75 percent are appointed by the board itself.

Bears for Leadership reform wants to allow the board to elect only 10 of its members and for the BGCT to elect 10 members without board approval.

The group also wants 10 board members be elected by alumni, and is calling for voting rights for non-voting regents named by the faculty, Student Congress, the Bear Foundation and the “B” Association.

BLR wants to limit the service of regents to three 3-year terms and wants to limit the length of time a member can serve as board chairman to two years.

The plan also calls for open meetings of the board along with published meeting dates, agendas and minutes.

The organization also wants all governance documents to be made public as well as information about the board’s committees, the members who serve on them, and what their responsibilities are.

The reform group is also calling for elimination of a required non-disclosure agreement for board members, giving regents the freedom to voice their opinions and to be available to media for questions after Board meetings and to carry on regular public discussions with students, faculty and alumni.

“This is a tragic and critical time for our University and things have reached the point where we cannot allow regents to make decisions behind closed doors,” said former Regent Randy Ferguson, who co-chairs the organization’s Research and Policy Committee.

WACO, Texas (KWTX)—Baylor Board of Regents Chairman Ron Murff issued a statement Wednesday in which he said the board’s Governance Review Task Force delivered a final report Monday that includes “30 detailed recommendations to the Bylaws and Guidelines for Board Operations.”

The board’s Governance Committee reviewed the report on Tuesday and “directed legal counsel to draft a range of bylaw amendments to accommodate the Task Force recommendations, which are expected to be considered and voted on at the next Board meeting on Feb. 17,” Murff said.

No details were released Wednesday, but Murff said in the statement that the full report would be published online within the next week. (John Carroll)