Faculty of color form strong bonds at welcome event – The Baylor Lariat

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On Oct. 13, the Faculty of Color Welcome was held at the Baylor Club, where attendees gathered together and listened to various speakers. Photo by Baylor Photography

By Emily Cousins | Staff Writer

The Faculty of Color Welcome was held Wednesday afternoon at the Baylor Club. Attendees were able to have fellowship with other faculty of color and hear from President Linda Livingstone and Provost Nancy Brickhouse.

Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez, department chair and professor in the Department of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media, said the event was a chance to acknowledge new faculty of color. She said Dominique Hill, director of wellness, received the Diversity Enhancement Award.

“It’s just an opportunity to bring us together,” Moody-Ramirez said. “It gave us a chance to introduce the new faculty members. It gave other faculty members a chance to talk with them and to welcome them to the Baylor family. It’s an opportunity that we might not otherwise have because on a day-to-day basis, we don’t necessarily see different people on campus.”

Moody-Ramirez said faculty of color can sometimes feel alone at Baylor.

“They feel isolated, and many times, they are the only person of color in their department,” Moody-Ramirez said. “So they can feel isolated and like they’re the only one, but when they go to these types of events, they can see that there are other people of color on campus. So it gives them the opportunity to meet different people that they wouldn’t normally get to.”

Dr. Ronald Johnson, the ​​Ralph and Bessie Mae Lynn Chair of History, said during his first semester at Baylor, a majority of classes were online due to COVID-19. He said the opportunity to meet other faculty of color in person for the first time was a joyous occasion.

“Being able to hug other [people] of color — particularly other African Americans — was really special for me, and it really gave me a sense of belonging right now,” Johnson said. “All that said, Baylor, as everyone acknowledged tonight, still has a ways to go. An event like this doesn’t cure everything, and it doesn’t get us over the hurdle, but what it did for me was putting me in a room with people who understand what it’s like to be on campus and feel affirmed in that. And to have President Livingstone there, to have the provost there, to have Dean Nordt there, to have the chairman of my department show up — so everyone in my academic chain of command was there, and it made me feel like they cared that I was there and they acknowledged that my existence mattered.”

Johnson said Livingstone said in her speech that having events for faculty of color is meant to make sure they feel welcome at Baylor.

“The more we retain, the more faculty of color will come to Baylor,” Johnson said. “And the more faculty of color we have at Baylor, the more students of color at Baylor may feel acknowledged and affirmed and want to stay at Baylor. And the more students of color we have at Baylor, the more students we will have in the future. So that’s why tonight, it’s a very small thing, but it’s a part of a much larger trajectory I think we have made.”