Embattled Baylor University picks new president
Linda Livingstone will lead Baylor University starting in June, stepping in to lead as the Baptist university is entrenched in lawsuits and investigations concerning how it handled student allegations of sexual assault.
Livingstone is a dean and management professor at the George Washington University School of Business who has previously worked at Baylor’s business school as a professor and associate dean.
“Dr. Livingstone brings an accomplished academic career to Baylor, combined with a strong appreciation and support of Baylor’s mission,” Board of Regents chair Ronald Murff said in a statement. “A longtime Baptist and former Baylor faculty member, she has a passion for the distinctiveness of Baylor’s Christian mission in higher education.”
Livingstone will be the university’s first female president. Baylor was chartered in 1845.
She takes the reins from David Garland, an interim president who has served since former president Ken Starr departed Baylor after an outside report found evidence of administrative cover-up of sexual assault.
“I chose to begin my academic career at Baylor in significant part because of Baylor’s Christian mission,” she said in a statement. “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.”
Livingstone’s academic expertise appears to focus on bringing women into the workforce in high levels. She has written about “Leveling the Playing Field for Women Executives” and has spoken at several women’s leadership forums. At Baylor in 1994-1995, she was a member of the committee for promotion of sexual equality.
Baylor hired Chicago-based executive consulting firm Heidrick & Struggles to help search for its next president. In its position profile, Heidrick & Struggles says it sought a “mature, unapologetic, yet growing Christian leader” with financial savvy, communication skills and the desire to lift academic standards.
The eight-page document doesn’t mention the campus tumult, but it asked that applicants have “experience in ‘crisis management’” and “can lead with decisiveness as well as sensitivity and transparency and has the courage to address the tough issues.”
Baylor held listening sessions to learn community members’ preferred leadership qualities around the state and on campus in October. Alumni served on the search committee with faculty, administrators, regents and a student.
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Notably, alumnus Drayton McLane Jr., the former Astros owner, served on both the search committee and is a member of the activist alumni group that’s been pushing for change at Baylor, Bears for Leadership Reform. That group has been critical of the Board of Regents for not sharing all information behind an independent investigation audit released last May.
A Bears for Leadership Reform spokeswoman had no immediate comment.