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Sloan fields faculty questions at forum

Oct. 26, 2000

Salaries, Polanyi among concerns

By BLAIR MARTIN

Staff writer

President Robert B. Sloan Jr. answered faculty questions at the President's Faculty Forum Meeting at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in Kayser Auditorium in the Hankamer School of Business.

During the meeting, which was mediated by Faculty Senate Chairman Dr. Jay Losey, Sloan answered 14 of the given 28 questions, selected by the Faculty Senate, in front of attending faculty members.

After the president responded to a question, he asked faculty for any additional questions they had on the specific topic he was addressing.

Larry Brumley, spokesman for Baylor, said he thought the format of the forum was well organized and educational for him and his colleagues.

'I thought the meeting was very helpful and allowed ample opportunity for follow-up questions to be asked,' Brumley said. 'Because there is a fair amount of depth in all of the questions, the president does his homework and takes each one seriously.'

The first question Sloan addressed concerned the external committee's report of the Michael Polanyi Center.

'There were two major issues I saw in regard to the report,' Sloan said. 'First, the committee saw that this intellectual project with a broader mandate is indeed a legitimate project, and second, that collegiality among the university is important.'

Sloan said it was unfortunate that 'further distractions occurred,' referring to Dr. William Dembski's reassignment from director of the center, but that it is necessary for colleagues, especially in an academic setting, to be able to maintain constructive dialogue among their fellow academic colleagues.

'We ought to be able to discuss the philosophy and religion of science at a university, even if we don't always agree,' he said. 'It is important for us all to work together, and we can do so without being disagreeable with one another.'

Another question posed to the president was whether he would be willing to announce the average raise for faculty each year as well as for executive personnel.

Sloan said he would not because 'he didn't see anything positive to be gained to publishing these numbers.'

However, Sloan provided a list of statistical evidence to faculty, which stated that Baylor salaries for assistant, associate and full-time professors were within average percentile among the salaries of other competitive schools.

When asked to comment on an article in Atlantic Monthly about evangelical schools, which claimed he wanted to make Baylor the 'Notre Dame of the Baptist world,' Sloan said he never 'recalled ever using another school as a model or basis for Baylor' but felt that Baylor had the potential to be a 'tier one' school and among the top 50 universities in the world.

He was also asked how he and the provost intend to strengthen Baylor's reputation beyond its status as a good undergraduate school or a 'mediocre university with a good law school.'

Sloan said that, although it is 'important as a university to emphasize the value of scholarship, teaching is what Baylor prizes.'

'What happens in the classroom is our bread and butter,' he said, 'but that doesn't mean that we can't improve on research and other areas of discovery.'

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