A Year of Selfless Service

A look back at Dr. David Garland's accomplishments as interim president.

When Dr. David Garland began his first day as Baylor University’s interim president last June—the second time he had agreed to serve in that capacity—he faced challenges few others would have so willingly accepted. However, with unwavering diligence and a deep love for Baylor, Garland set about bringing the Baylor Family together in support of Baylor’s mission and the more than 16,000 students we serve.

If asked about his role, Garland will quickly assert that the successes achieved during the past year, in the wake of disappointment in the university’s response to sexual violence within its community and significant departures among Baylor’s senior leadership, were not his own. It came only through the hands-on help and support of hundreds of others across campus and among Baylor’s alumni and friends.

And yet, his personal leadership was undoubtedly instrumental to Baylor implementing significant improvements and achieving a wide range of goals during the past academic year. Garland’s daily work and prayerful shepherding of the university community were key to placing Baylor on a course of healing and renewed commitment to the university’s mission.

Here are a few of the significant accomplishments Baylor has achieved this year under Garland’s leadership:

  • Structural completion and integration of 105 specific recommendations for improvement in awareness, prevention, response and support for those who experience sexual violence within the Baylor community;
  • More than a dozen significant appointments and hirings, including Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades, football head coach Matt Rhule and Robbins College Dean Rodney Bowden;
  • Expansion of Baylor’s parental leave and adoption assistance benefits, making them among the best in higher education;
  • Establishment of such student services and opportunities as the Beauchamp Addiction Recovery Center (BARC) and the student exchange program with Louisiana’s Xavier University;
  • Completion of a series of in-depth campus surveys to learn more about what students and faculty think of their campus/workplace; and
  • Commitment to join such universities as Duke University, Harvard University, the University of Michigan, and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in educating a combined 50,000 more high-achieving, lower-income students by 2025.

In view of all that Garland has achieved during a year when the burden of leadership at times weighed heavily on his shoulders, it is fitting that the Baylor Board of Regents created a lasting tribute to him by establishing The David E. Garland Scholarship Fund, a $5 million resource that will assist students in Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

In a May 27 editorial in the Waco Tribune-Herald, Garland wrote:

“As I head into the final days of my interim presidency at Baylor University, someone reminded me of a quote from Abraham Lincoln: ‘I want it said of me by those who knew me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a flower where I thought a flower would grow.’ …

“I leave the Office of the President confident that what has been planted this past year will further Baylor’s grand ambitions as a national research university grounded in Christian principles.”