Baylor University Regent Proposes Changes in Administration

( [email protected] ) Jun 23, 2004 06:46 PM EDT

According to Associated Baptist Press, Baylor University, the largest Baptist university in the world, has received a letter from John Baugh, Baylor University’s benefactor who founded the Houston-based Sysco Corporation, criticizing President Robert Sloan’s leadership and calling for an open forum to discuss the issues at the July regents meeting.

During an interview with ABP, Baugh said he is writing a series of letters which confirm the responsibility of the board of regents and list the possible reforms in practices and policies he wishes to be implemented.

Baugh’s June 3 letter asked for holding the July regents meeting to examine the current problems inflicting on the administration. He wrote:

"The most immediate, basic question with which we are confronted is whether the philosophy and methods that have been employed by President Sloan and his administration … have alienated the major constituencies of the university to the point that new leadership must be put into place for Baylor to strive and thrive in an unimpeded fashion."

At the May regents meeting, Baugh warned the board he would retract Baylor funding unless changes are made in the current administration. The Baugh family has donated more than $25 million to the university, including scholarships, study-abroad programs and a $5 million gift toward the construction of Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

According to Baugh, his main concern is on the compromise of the 150-year-old mission of the university, which promotes Christ-centered education and greatly emphasizes student-professor relationships, by the current administration.

"Students and professors are the principal players," Baugh said. "The rest of us are also players, whether full-time administrators or lay people, facilitating or providing whatever is needed to see that those principal players advance with the process of learning."

Following the meeting, outgoing regents chair Drayton McLane said the board is more concerned of maintaining values on which the university was founded rather than criticizing Sloan’s leadership.

"I've been in business a long time. One of the most difficult things is leadership," McLane told the Waco Tribune-Herald. "Change things, improve things, move them forward. Doing bold things certainly excites a lot of people. But as change happens, it causes some difficulties. We certainly understand that, but we are sensitive to every group."

Will Davis, newly elected chairman of the board of regents, said it hasn’t decided whether or not the board will open the July meeting because of another meeting scheduled for June, in which the members will discuss the university’s 10-year vision.