There’s no shortage of diversity initiatives at Texas’s Baylor University, which holds the distinction of being the largest Christian university in the Lone Star state.
The College Fix reports that the Waco, Texas academic institution has 22 diversity programs now running — an accomplishment that only took Baylor one year to achieve. It all begins with Diversity 101: where faculty and staff are trained in in the thriving diversity culture. At the heart of the program is a stated desire to employ more non-white faculty and to inform the student body through workshops on such things as “cultural humility.”
The mushrooming of diversity at the university all started with the creation of an advisory council on diversity that reports directly to the university’s president. That spawned such things as a diversity webpage, the Faculty of Color Alliance, the Black Student Union, the Latinx Coalition and the Asian Coalition.
The woman responsible for this change is Elizabeth Palacios, the special assistant on diversity, who says the emphasis has its roots in the university’s Christian perspective.
“We have been intentional in our work with diversity and inclusion for some time now to enhance our ability to understand and support one another,” she told The College Fix.
Baylor told the education news service that Baylor had first been asked by the university’s NAACP chapter in 2014 that the university promote diversity in its student activities and campus events. This was followed a year later by “additional requests that reflected their needs and presented them to us in a way that built upon the collaboration that was already in place.”
That was the beginning of an accelerated commitment to diversity that now affects virtually everything at the university, including who is allowed to speak at the facility and who is hired to teach.
Baylor’s diversity website went live last summer along with the release of a “diversity commitment video.” More programs came on stream by the autumn with the expansion of the multicultural affairs department, inviting more diverse speakers to the campus and a more vigilant “bias-reporting system.”
The “cultural humility training” came next for Baylor’s student life division. Palacios describes the objective of cultural humility as “recognizing and working to reconcile the power imbalances that exist among persons of various cultures by understanding that there is value in all of God’s people.”
The Diversity 101 training that is mandatory for all staff, and faculty is supposed to define what diversity is, instruct those working at the university to play by the diversity rules and find new ways to be “inclusive.”
“The programming will also set the foundation for interactions in the workplace—building on the premise that all employees are diverse, and asking the question on how we operate more inclusively,” Shirl Brown, the equal employment opportunity and inclusion manager, told The College Fix.
The university also intentionally seeks to hire more “facility of color” by actively seeking to increase the number of non-white candidates interviewed.