Baylor fires another president

Baylor University went through another president, this time firing John Lilley. He had only been at the Baptist university for three years. The previous president, Robert Sloan, was also forced out, but for different reasons.

As I understand it, Dr. Sloan pushed through a plan called Baylor 2012, in which the school would become BOTH a major research institution AND a distinctly Christian university. That is a brilliant goal, much-needed in both the church and the academy. We desperately need a conservative Protestant version of Notre Dame, with a grad school that can turn out Christian scholars and professors of the highest quality.

Dr. Sloan made good progress on that front, assembling some first-rate Christian faculty members. But the old guard faculty resented them and would not abide any whiff of creationism or intelligent design. Dr. Sloan was forced out, whereupon many of these young Christian professors were purged in tenure fights.

Dr. Lilley, now, has been ousted by the board of regents, seemingly for the opposite reason, of not taking the Baylor 2012 plan seriously enough, especially when it comes to integrating faith and learning.

We should all hope and pray that the next president puts Baylor back on its Christian course, while also being able to handle the faculty who will oppose that.

(If I’ve got the conflict wrong, Baylor fans, please correct me.)

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://castingoutnines.wordpress.com Robert

    I resonate pretty strongly with the desire to have a conservative Protestant research university of the first order. Why don’t we have one of those already? We have in this country a long tradition of both high-quality higher education and a respect (at least until recently) for conservative Protestantism. Why haven’t those two traditions ever come together? Is it just an anti-intellectual streak in Protestantism (ala Mark Noll’s “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind”), or something else?

    I am not including many of the fine Protestant liberal arts colleges (your own PHC included, Dr. Veith), some of which have graduate schools but apparently all of which are oriented towards teaching (which is nothing to be ashamed of).

  • http://castingoutnines.wordpress.com Robert

    I resonate pretty strongly with the desire to have a conservative Protestant research university of the first order. Why don’t we have one of those already? We have in this country a long tradition of both high-quality higher education and a respect (at least until recently) for conservative Protestantism. Why haven’t those two traditions ever come together? Is it just an anti-intellectual streak in Protestantism (ala Mark Noll’s “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind”), or something else?

    I am not including many of the fine Protestant liberal arts colleges (your own PHC included, Dr. Veith), some of which have graduate schools but apparently all of which are oriented towards teaching (which is nothing to be ashamed of).

  • Anon

    I wonder if the Baylor situation shows that you cannot reclaim a college or university once the sub-orthodox have obtained tenure in a majority. the Board of Regents there should probably shut down, sell the property, and start a new university.

    The same is probably necessary for any college or university system where this happened. Otherwise our youth will continue to be led away from the confessional and Biblical faith by their professors speaking in the name and authority of the synod or denomination.

    Does anyone know of any counter-examples?

  • Anon

    I wonder if the Baylor situation shows that you cannot reclaim a college or university once the sub-orthodox have obtained tenure in a majority. the Board of Regents there should probably shut down, sell the property, and start a new university.

    The same is probably necessary for any college or university system where this happened. Otherwise our youth will continue to be led away from the confessional and Biblical faith by their professors speaking in the name and authority of the synod or denomination.

    Does anyone know of any counter-examples?

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry Bishop

    Concerning Baylor’s Christian orthodoxy, there has been “death in the pot” (2 Ki. 4:38-40) for some time (decades). Short of a revival or among the faculty and administration (or 1st time conversion for some), Baylor will continue to be secularized until its Baptist roots will be a historical footnote.

    I say this because its orthodoxy has been eroded in the name of academic freedom. Remember, that the university which was originally owned (accountable to ) the Baptist General Convention of Texas was stolen by the trustees (supposed to keep in trust) who feared that fundamentalist Baptists would somehow take over. Now it is ruled by regents.

    A very brief shot of the Baylor campus from the movie “Expelled” showed Col. 1:16 written on a building, “For by him were all things created…” And yet Baylor censored research of Intelligent Design, calling it unscientific.

  • http://barrybishop.blogspot.com/ Barry Bishop

    Concerning Baylor’s Christian orthodoxy, there has been “death in the pot” (2 Ki. 4:38-40) for some time (decades). Short of a revival or among the faculty and administration (or 1st time conversion for some), Baylor will continue to be secularized until its Baptist roots will be a historical footnote.

    I say this because its orthodoxy has been eroded in the name of academic freedom. Remember, that the university which was originally owned (accountable to ) the Baptist General Convention of Texas was stolen by the trustees (supposed to keep in trust) who feared that fundamentalist Baptists would somehow take over. Now it is ruled by regents.

    A very brief shot of the Baylor campus from the movie “Expelled” showed Col. 1:16 written on a building, “For by him were all things created…” And yet Baylor censored research of Intelligent Design, calling it unscientific.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Seems to me that “we” used to have Cambridge and Oxford, Princeton, Harvard, and Yale. Perhaps more important even than re-creating great universities is to remember why we lost them in the first place.

    One might also, even without being too much of a “wag,” remember that in too many places, the great “secular” universities are really no longer great in terms of intellectual achievement. Can we argue that a professor who spends his time producing sub-par rap music (if that is indeed possible) is actually participating in the intellectual life? Or most anyone in gender and ethnic studies?

    So in reality, the bar’s not that high for participation, if only the “powers that be” would admit that a lot of “academic” work is so in name only.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    Seems to me that “we” used to have Cambridge and Oxford, Princeton, Harvard, and Yale. Perhaps more important even than re-creating great universities is to remember why we lost them in the first place.

    One might also, even without being too much of a “wag,” remember that in too many places, the great “secular” universities are really no longer great in terms of intellectual achievement. Can we argue that a professor who spends his time producing sub-par rap music (if that is indeed possible) is actually participating in the intellectual life? Or most anyone in gender and ethnic studies?

    So in reality, the bar’s not that high for participation, if only the “powers that be” would admit that a lot of “academic” work is so in name only.

  • David Henderson

    Dr. Joel Grefory formerly of FBC, Dallas fame and a Baylor grad predicted this would happen in his book Too Great a Temptation,. He describes Baylor as a university that is adrift and will not return. When Baylor separated themselves from the BGCT they started down a very lonely road from which they will not return.

  • David Henderson

    Dr. Joel Grefory formerly of FBC, Dallas fame and a Baylor grad predicted this would happen in his book Too Great a Temptation,. He describes Baylor as a university that is adrift and will not return. When Baylor separated themselves from the BGCT they started down a very lonely road from which they will not return.


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