by Todd D. Still, Search Chair
On February 6, 2014, a historic announcement was made – Dr. Elizabeth Davis, Baylor University’s Executive Vice President and Provost, was named Furman University’s twelfth President. While delighted for Dr. Davis and her family, Baylor Nation cannot help but feel disappointed in losing our capable, collegial chief academic officer to the Furman Paladins. As Baylor’s President and Chancellor, Judge Ken Starr, has aptly said, “Baylor’s loss is surely Furman’s gain.” Indeed, Dr. Davis leaves big provostial shoes to fill.
Disappointment notwithstanding, after having performed due diligence, Judge Starr announced on February 14, 2014 that Dr. David Garland, Dean of the George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University, had agreed to serve as Interim Provost beginning this summer. Shortly thereafter, Judge Starr asked me to serve as Chair of the Provost Search Committee.
The committee will have as its aim to discover for our beloved university an unmistakably gifted scholar-administrator who can join us in advancing Baylor’s aspirations under Pro Futuris as a university with very high research activity, while reaffirming and strengthening our distinctive Christian mission.
I initiated our work by having conversations with faculty, staff, students, senior administrators, regents, and alumni regarding the requisite qualities of Baylor’s next provost. Simultaneously, President Starr asked that I begin to receive nominations for potential members of the Provost Search Committee.
Over a three-week period, more than two hundred nominations poured in while substantive, stimulating conversations were taking place. As the Baylor Lady Bears were winning yet another Big 12 Tournament Championship (Sic ‘Em!), Judge Starr and I, with the skilled assistance of Provost Search Committee Manager, Mr. Jordan Hannah, were deliberating the committee’s composition. If the selection of our women and men’s basketball teams for participation in their respective NCAA basketball tournaments was a foregone conclusion, deciding upon who might serve on the Provost Search Committee was delightfully difficult.
Throughout the selection process two things became acutely clear: (1) the Lord has blessed Baylor University with remarkably able and faithful people; and (2) interest in and expectations for this all-important search are extremely high. The painstaking process undertaken to select a search committee has produced, we trust, a committee with whom our university community will be well pleased and in whom stakeholders’ confidence will be well placed. The names and titles of the gifted, generous members of the Provost Search Committee appear in the sidebar on this page.
Even as we were busy in formulating a search committee, we were also receiving proposals from and conducting interviews with leading executive search firms with particular expertise in higher education. Aided in this important task by Mr. John J. Whelan, J.D., Vice President for Human Resources at Baylor, the recommendation was made to President Starr that Storbeck/Pimentel and Associates (assisted by Ms. Anne Coyle, a Partner in that firm) be retained to assist with the search. Happily, Judge Starr accepted our recommendation.
After spring break and deep runs in NCAA basketball tournaments, the Committee was seated and duly charged by an inspirational address by the President on April 2. Simply and succinctly stated, the Committee’s remit is to seek out highly qualified candidates and to assess thoroughly their academic credentials, leadership potential, and commitment to Baylor’s unwavering Christian mission. Once a deep, diverse, and robust pool of prospects has been created, the Search Committee will identify and interview semi-finalists. The Committee will then select and recommend finalists to Judge Starr, who, after appropriate consultation with the Board of Regents, will name Baylor’s next Executive Vice President and Provost.
Between now and then, we covet your prayers and support. We also warmly welcome your input. Please send any applications, nominations, and inquires you might have to [email protected]. You can stay up-to-date with our search for an energetic, creative academic leader by reading BaylorNews and by visiting