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Regents reiterate faith in Sloan's leadership

Sept. 16, 2003

By Sandi Villarreal, reporter

The Baylor Board of Regents made the decision to reaffirm Robert B. Sloan Jr. as president of the university in a 31-4 vote handed down Friday.

After three hours of 'spirited' debating, Drayton McLane, chairman of the board, joined Sloan in addressing the media.

'Robert Sloan has led the university in a very bold way,' McLane said. 'He has moved it forward with vision, with integrity and is fulfilling the Baylor mission.'

In light of the recent controversy surrounding Sloan's leadership, the board has appointed three committees to handle the issues that have been raised over the past few months. These committees will address the internal strife within the board, faculty and alumni and will investigate financial situations involving tuition hikes and the expenses incurred through Baylor 2012. Another issue the committees will investigate is the conflict of interest claims that have surfaced, which have brought up questions about the integrity of the some of the regents.

'The entire experience has been a very humbling one,' Sloan said. 'To go through a time of tragedy and controversy such as this is an important learning experience.'

Sloan said he is very appreciative for the reaffirmation vote but in particular that of Baylor 2012.

'The direction of the university is to be one of the world's greatest Christian universities with an outstanding academic reputation and deep commitment to its Baptist heritage,' Sloan said.

The decision comes after a week of debate among faculty and present and former regents concerning Sloan's leadership. A letter from three former regents was sent to the present board last week encouraging Sloan's removal from office. Five present regents also wrote a letter calling for Sloan's resignation Sept. 8, followed by a no-confidence vote handed down by the faculty senate Tuesday. The opinions of the various groups were discussed, but the members of the board said they voted for what was best for the university.

'Every constituent group at Baylor is important to us, and they were certainly taken into consideration,' McLane said. 'We've had private sessions, and we feel very strongly about [Sloan's] leadership.'

The committees appointed by the board will continue to investigate claims made by faculty members concerning anxiety over losing their jobs and working in a 'climate of fear,' as the faculty senate put it following its no-confidence vote.

'I think the faculty and alumni will have respect for the regency group,' McLane said. 'With the committees, we're going to take their input and re-evaluate how we move Baylor forward.'

At the press conference following the decision, Sloan acknowledged areas he needed to work on to continue his leadership role in the university.

'I want to make every effort to establish better lines of communication,' he said. 'I will do everything within my power to reach out to all of the Baylor family. The most important thing right now is to move forward and make sure the Baylor family stays together.'

Jaclanel McFarland, member of the board, placed one of the four votes against the affirmation and said she is not convinced that the board's decision is the best thing for the university.

'I don't think this ends our concerns,' McFarland said. 'But whether we voted for the affirmation or not, we are certainly committed to Baylor University, and we are committed to working with Robert Sloan. Personally, I don't believe that Robert is the person who can heal the rift, but I hope I'm wrong,' McFarland said.

Jeff Leach, student body president and a Plano junior, said that he considers the action taken by the board of regents a step in the right direction. However, he acknowledged the need for better communication between all members of the Baylor family, including that between Sloan and the student body.

'In order for President Sloan to lead and for our university to move on, students are going to have to come together and we're all going to have to meet in the middle on a lot of things,' Leach said.