Twenty-two former Baylor University trustees signed a petition Tuesday calling on the current board of regents to replace President Robert Sloan this week with interim leadership and begin a national search for a new president.
The statement says Sloan’s leadership has created “the greatest divisiveness and distrust” in Baylor’s history and calls for new leadership to “restore confidence in the university as one of the foremost church-related institutions in the nation and the world.”
Signers include Houston businessman John Baugh, a leading donor who has said he will withdraw his support for Baylor unless there is a leadership change, and three former board chairmen–Randall Fields, Glenn Biggs and Gale Galloway—who called for Sloan’s resignation or termination last year.
The other signers are: George Anson, C.T. Beckham, Travis S. Berry, Dan Bagby, Os Chrisman, George M. Cowden, Buckner Fanning, Jack G. Folmar, Vernon G. Garrett, Jack Hightower, Gracie Hatfield Hilton, Sid Jones, Milfred Lewis, David McCall, Kelly McCann, Ella Wall Prichard, Ralph Storm and Hal Wingo.
Board president Will Davis told the Waco Tribune-Herald that he had read the resolution but didn’t know if Sloan’s leadership would be discussed at this week’s regents meeting, which started yesterday and continues today.
“I do respect their views and their positions. I don’t know what impact it will have on the regents,” Davis said.
Sloan declined to comment, the newspaper said.
Critics of the embattled president blame Sloan for declining enrollment and running up debt for construction projects. They also question his leadership style, which has divided faculty and alumni, and whether his goal of injecting more religion into the classroom threatens academic freedom.
Defenders say Sloan is leading Baylor in the right direction and urge his opponents to stop criticizing the president and get on board.
The faculty senate has twice voted no-confidence in Sloan’s leadership and is asking for a faculty wide referendum to see if a majority agrees.
Regents reportedly voted to keep Sloan as president by just one vote in a closed-door meeting in May.
A leading critic of Sloan predicted prior to the last regents meeting in July there would be another vote and this time there were enough votes to fire him. That vote reportedly never happened, however, with regents voting instead to reaffirm Sloan’s 10-year Vision 2012 plan, also in executive session.
Last September the board of regents voted 31-4 to keep Sloan at the helm, after five regents signed a letter requesting his removal. One of the five told a reporter that he changed his mind after listening to Sloan in the meeting.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.