Beleaguered Baylor U. Announces First Female President

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Baylor University, still crawling out from underneath the alleged mishandling of high-profile sports-related campus sex scandals, announced Dr. Linda Livingstone as its new president Tuesday.

She takes over the position on June 1 as the first woman president in the private Baptist university’s 172-year history.

Baylor Board of Regents Chair Ronald Murff announced the appointment, stating: “Dr. Livingstone brings an accomplished academic career to Baylor, combined with a strong appreciation and support of Baylor’s mission.”

He noted she is a longtime Baptist and former Baylor faculty member who possesses a passion for the distinctiveness of Baylor’s Christian mission in higher education.

“I am humbled and honored to be selected as the 15th President of Baylor University,” responded Livingstone, who is the current dean and professor of management at the George Washington University School of Business.

“I chose to begin my academic career at Baylor in significant part because of Baylor’s Christian mission,” she stated.

From 1991 to 2002, she served Baylor as a professor and associate dean of graduate programs, including at the Hankamer School of Business. She was also a member of the Faculty Athletics Council which reviews a variety of governance and rules compliance matters related to the intercollegiate athletics program.

“To return to Baylor to partner with the exceptional faculty, staff, students and administrators to fulfill the University’s vision to be a top-tier research institution, committed to excellence in all aspects of University life, while strengthening the Christian mission is an opportunity I look forward to with enthusiasm,” she said.

An Oklahoma native, Livingstone graduated from Oklahoma State University with a bachelors of science degree in economics and management, a masters of business administration, and doctorate in management and organizational behavior. Besides Baylor and George Washington University, she served 12 years at California’s Pepperdine University, also a private Christian college, as dean of the Graziadio School of Business and Management between 2002 and 2014.

Murff commented Livingstone comes to Baylor “during this important time for the university.”

She follows Interim President David Garland, who filled the university’s top spot after former president Ken Starr was demoted, then resigned from Baylor last year amid student accusations of sexual assaults against football players and a scathing report that pointed to an administrative cover up of these and other purported sexual and physical abuse misdeeds that allegedly happened on the campus for years.

This led to multiple lawsuits, a federal civil rights investigation, and the firing of football coach Art Briles. Although unrelated, the university also axed a recently hired assistant coach arrested on a prostitution charge in February.

Last October, Baylor retained international executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles to help them find a new president. University officials say they reviewed more than 400 prospects and later, whittled down to a first-round of interviews with 61 candidates, which they described as a combination of professionals from the academic field, government, military, and corporate life.

In the position profile, Baylor sought applicants with “experience in crisis management” who “can lead with decisiveness as well as sensitivity and transparency and has the courage to address the tough issues” although the campus scandals were not mentioned, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Bob Brewton, a 1974 Baylor graduate chaired the Presidential Search Committee. He punctuated that Livingstone’s experience “uniquely fit the profile of the dynamic faith and transformational leader which Baylor needs at this point in our history.”

Baylor Regent Emeritus and former Houston Astros Chairman Drayton McLane, Jr. also served on the search committee.

George Washington University President Steven Knapp called Livingstone “a stellar dean and an excellent colleague.”

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