Magazine article The Christian Century

Baylor's Sloan Steps Down to Chancellor

Magazine article The Christian Century

Baylor's Sloan Steps Down to Chancellor

Article excerpt

Baylor University President Robert Sloan will step down June 1, ending one of the stormiest periods in the school's 160-year history. Admitting he was a "lightning rod" while pushing for ambitious growth at the Waco, Texas, campus, Sloan said he willingly accepted the post of chancellor.

Baylor's board of regents, which supported Sloan's transition from the top executive post in a conference call January 20, ratified the decision at its February 3-4 meeting and outlined the search for a new president.

Sloan's future at Baylor had been a topic of debate--and at least three votes among the regents--during recent years. But Sloan and the regents reached their decision "by mutual agreement," said Will Davis, board chairman, at a news conference on January 21.

Controversy over Sloan's leader ship flared a couple of years ago, not long after the regents approved Baylor 2012, the university's long-range strategy to become one of the top U.S. schools of its kind.

Supporters praised Baylor 2012, as well as Sloan's vision for it. They lauded its core value of blending strong Christian faith and the highest academic standards. They also affirmed such goals as strengthening faculty research, raising academic standards of students, expanding campus facilities to "world-class" quality and making the sports teams strongly competitive in the Big XII Athletic Conference.

Opponents, however, criticized Sloan's implementation of 2012, and some condemned components of the plan, including the cost. They said Sloan was pulling Baylor from its traditional Texas Baptist moorings. They claimed that beloved, long-tenured professors were being shuffled aside for younger research-oriented faculty, that typical Texas Baptist families no longer could afford to send their children to Baylor, and that the rapid expansion of campus facilities created unbearable debt.

The divisions split the fiercely loyal "Baylor family." Many alumni divided into two groups, buying ads and waging pro- and anti-Sloan campaigns.

The faculty also divided, with 418 out of 838 teachers calling for Sloan's dismissal in a recent referendum. Those negative votes constituted 85 percent of the ballots actually cast in the referendum, but Sloan's supporters noted that many faculty loyal to the president boycotted the referendum.

The votes that counted, however, took place in closed sessions of the 36-member board of regents. …

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