Category Archives: Baylor

An Open Letter to the Baylor University Regents

Dear Regents,

Circumstances at our Alma Mater are rapidly becoming critical and I am, reluctantly, writing to express my views on these matters. I have become convinced that Baylor University will not be able to function effectively as long as Robert Sloan remains its President.

I did not reach this conclusion recently, but recent events, particularly the recent severe drop in the ranking of the Hankamer School of Business, have certainly solidified my opinion. My opinion is not based upon Dr. Sloan’s character, theology, or personality, rather on his performance in the job of President.

While there are many things that have occurred during Dr. Sloan’s tenure as President that distress and perplex me, such as the handling of Baylor Hospital, dealings with the Alumni Association, votes of no confidence, and the state of the athletic program, I believe they stem from a single overarching problem. Dr. Sloan fails to understand that governance at a private university cannot be a top down affair. Faculty, alumni, students and donors must all share in determining the future direction of the University.

Clearly vision is necessary for a University or any institution, but if there is no consensus, no shared vision, there may not be anyone willing to fund, teach or attend the vision. Much more is necessary for a vision to succeed than building it.

The current “Love it or Leave it” attitude being fostered by the administration runs counter to this necessity for shared vision. This attitude is evident in everything from Dr. Sloan taking the title of Chief Executive Officer (very poor form in my opinion) to the way Vision 2012 was sprung on the Family with no discussion and no dissent permitted. While such leadership is appropriate in business where legitimate authority flows from ownership, authority in a non-profit institution flows from a consensus of stakeholders. The net results of this attempt at hierarchical rather than consensus management have been angry faculty, divided alumni, and plummeting contributions.

Worst of all has been the fracturing of the unique and very real Baylor Family. This sense of family has always been very strong for me since, like some of your families, mine has attended Baylor for multiple generations. I met my wife at Baylor and many of the greatest experiences of my life and family history are intertwined with the institution. As a result, when I met someone new from Baylor I had an automatic and reflexive sense of trust, respect and friendship for them that’s hard to explain.

But that’s gone now. Now when I meet someone new from Baylor I worry about what side they’re on. I believe that this dissolution of the Family is “collateral damage” that Dr. Sloan did not consider when embarking on his experiment in top down management. While he, and perhaps others, may consider it to be of little value, I consider it Baylor’s greatest asset. Buildings and endowments are only things, the Baylor Family is something truly special. We may or may not ever have an endowment the size of Harvard’s, but they will never have anything that remotely approaches the Baylor Family.

Please help rebuild the Baylor Family and Baylor University by finding a way to remove Dr. Sloan and replace him with someone who will help us find a shared vision for the University. You will be in my prayers as you struggle to find resolution.

Call for Open Regents Meeting

According to this thread on the Baylor Fans Message Board, John F. Baugh, Chairman Emeritus of Cisco Foods and a major contributor to the University and other Baptist causes, has called for the Board of Regents to hold an open meeting to discuss the lack of confidence many Baylor stakeholders feel towards the current administration.

Quoth Baugh,”In recognition of our highly precarious situation, and the fact that timely decisions are of the utmost importance, I am asking that the Board of Regents dedicate the July 2004 meeting to an open discussion of the issues which confront all of us who love Baylor and who want her to continue in an unfettered fashion in service to our fellowman to the glory of God.”

I’m not sure a full public airing of all of our differences is the right way to go. The family feud in Farrell Center certainly did nothing to improve harmony or increase confidence in the administration.

No what’s needed now is a quiet and private firing of Dr. Sloan and several other of the senior administratiors, including Provost Jeffery, and then some good old behind the scenes fence mending and apology making. A lot of people have made mistakes during the Sloan administration and we are going to need some of them to help repair the University. It will not do to publicly humiliate major donors and supporters any more that it was a good thing to sue a major donor.

That having been said, after Sloan is gone (the sooner the better) some things do need to be done publicly. For starters the Board of Regents needs to be reconstituted and include some elected representatives from the Alumni, facutly and perhaps even a token student. There need to be public discussions about how to we get out of the financial hole we have dug and about a vision for the University all of its supporters can share.