Baylor President’s Resignation Brings Mixed Response

Last Friday, Baylor University’s Robert B. Sloan announced his decision to resign from his post as president. News of his resignation on January 21 brought mixed emotions amongst Baylor’s faculty and student body. Nonetheless, some are optimistic over the recent rearrangement.

Since a few years after his ascension to Baylor presidency in 1995, Sloan has faced much controversy concerning his leadership and plans to implement Baylor 2012. Sloan’s bold push for this plan has led to two Faculty Senate no-confidence votes in the past two years. Since the plan’s implementation, the campus has found itself divided over supporting or opposing calls for Sloan’s resignation.

In a press conference, on the same day of his announced resignation, Sloan announced his resignation in the presence of Regents Chairman Will Davis. “The focus should always be on the vision, not on the president. Though I have worked hard to cultivate mutual understanding with those who disagree with various decisions or even my management style, the reality is that my role as president has become a distraction from the main goal of fulfilling the vision,” Sloan said. “The vision is more important than any one person. No one is indispensable.” Sloan also shared that by stepping into the chancellery, he would be in a position to better implement plans and goals for Baylor 2012.

Various student-led organizations issued recent statements applauding Sloan’s decision and subsequent action. “I respect and support his decision,” David Browning, sophomore class president, said to the Lariat, the Baylor campus press. “I believe he has the student’s best interests at heart.”

“The Young Conservatives of Texas were pleased with the conservative Christian vision Dr. Sloan implemented during his tenure as president, and we sincerely hope the regents find a replacement that will continue to actively pursue such a Christian vision,” Shelly Liles said to the State Affairs Director for the Baylor Young Conservatives of Texas.

The recent decision also attracted praise from the campus press. The Lariat editorial staff wrote in a recent editorial, “The Lariat editorial board applauds Sloan's decision to put the interests of the university above his own. His dedication to Baylor and commitment to the university's future underline his decision to step down and take on a new position, in which he will continue to work toward promoting the university and its interests. With every bold vision comes challenge and controversy.”

Those representing the faculty surprisingly showed support for the regent’s decision. Dr. Eric Robinson, assistant professor of psychology and neurology and chairman of the Faculty Senate, commented to the Lariat:
“In my personal opinion, I understand the decision the regents made in allowing Sloan to continue as chancellor and have a role in university, allowing him to speak about the vision and raise money for the university. He seems to care a lot about the university and its future.”

Nonetheless, others have shown concern over the change. Robert Kreiser, senior program officer for the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) commented to the Lariat, “It is important that the president of Baylor University or any other university has the confidence of the faculty.” Kreiser also mentioned that the AAUP wanted to ensure that Baylor’s faculty would be involved in the screening process for Sloan’s replacement.

Commenting on the situation, student body president Jeff Leach said to the Lariat, “We [the student leaders] are confident that Baylor will continue to be a city on a hill and will become an even brighter light to the world in the coming days as we unite and move forward together.”

Dr. Robert Sloan still plans to hand out degrees at the graduation ceremony in May 2005. Sloan will take the university’s chancellery on June 1 of this year.