"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Who Can Be President of Baylor University?

Baylor's Board of Regents looked at three finalists for the top job and essentially took a pass. No to Don Powell, head of the FDIC. No to interim pres. Bill Underwood (who withdrew). And apparently no to Linda Livingstone from the Pepperdine school of business. So, here we are back at square one. They made a neat troika of right (Powell), left (Underwood), and middle (Livingstone).

As a constant follower/commentator on the Baylor situation, I read the latest installments of Baylor Truth with great interest. The last two posts are particularly compelling. The first links to a Baylor students blog that chronicles the success of Robert Sloan's policies. The second carries the text of an email from a reader who offers a solution to the current leadership vaccuum: Bring Robert Sloan back to the president's office and admit his resignation was a matter of transitional board instability.

It's not such a far-fetched idea. Sloan is still on campus as the chancellor of the university. He's in his fifties and has years to give.

Another alternative would be to invest the chancellor's office with the presidential powers and make the president more of a chief of operations.

Being the top officer at Baylor during the implementation of an ambitious and ground-breaking vision is not going to be easy going for anyone. Asking a new person to come in and deal with a board that is divided, but improving may not be fair. Asking Robert Sloan to come back and finish what he started may be the only thing that is fair.

6 comments:

Francis J. Beckwith said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Francis J. Beckwith said...

(the previous post was deleted for misspelling).

Hunter:

I must part ways with you on this one. Although I have great respect for Chancellor Sloan, I believe that the fissures in Baylor's infrastructure are so deep that his return would not remedy what ills the institution.

Of course, none of this is an endorsement for the status quo. Nevertheless, at some point we have to get on with our lives, do good work, and stop worrying about things we can't control.

Cast your bread upon the water, and don't cast your pearls before swine.

FJB

Hunter Baker said...

I go the opposite direction, Dr. Beckwith. The fissures are there and they are based on issues rather than a person. I suspect that if we could do a careful study, we would find that those who support the university's vision support Dr. Sloan. Those who don't support the vision, don't support Dr. Sloan.

This is not to say there aren't non-philosophical issues with which a person could take issue, but I doubt they are significant enough to warrant a change of leadership, particularly given the recent successes.

Cassandra said...

Hunter,
You have an amazing ability to ingenuously dismiss complex issues. As we have discussed before, a number of committed evangelical Christians oppose Sloan's return to office. You have adopted the "easy way out" approach of attributing to all who dissent with the previous administration's actions nefarious motives and relativistic rationales. If it were only that simple!

Instead of grappling with the previous administration's gross managerial incompetence, unwarranted inequities and favoritism in the treatment of faculty, and self-serving feathering of personal privilege instead of the good of the Baylor community and the representation of Christian principles, you engage in egregious reductionism.

Such simplistic thinking does little to advance your own agenda: The life of the mind, as opposed to subjective emotism, is not apparent in your posted views.

Hunter Baker said...

Cassandra, I think you make the mistake of assuming that your carefully considered views are the majority sentiment in the anti-Sloan/anti-Baylor 2012 camp. I don't think they are.

What you forget or haven't heard is that I put a great deal of time into researching these issues and have written two lengthy papers on the subject in addition to the popular press I've done.

What convinced me more than anything was my discussions with former president Herbert Reynolds. I like and admire him, but disagree with his reasons for opposing Sloan which are theological. He would not hesitate to tell you that. What distinguishes him from many is his honesty in this regard.

Hunter Baker said...

One other thing, Cassandra. I never said anything about nefarious rationales, relativism, etc. I have fully absorbed the arguments made about Baptist theology, soul liberty, church-state separation, etc. In addition, I have carefully analyzed that case and how it has worked itself out in the differences between presidents Sloan and Reynolds. You mistakenly conclude I think the Reynolds option is nefarious. I don't. I simply think the case for the Sloan vision is better than the one for the Reynolds opposition.