John M. Lilley became the 13th person to serve as president of Baylor University on January 1, 2006, and held the position until July 24, 2008. A native of Louisiana and the son of a Baptist minister and a school teacher, Ernest and Sibyl Lilley, the president earned three music degrees from Baylor: a bachelor of music education in 1961, a bachelor of musicin 1962, and a master of music in 1964. He received his doctorate in music from the University of Southern California in 1971, and later obtained a certificate from the Harvard Business School in 1978.
As president, Lilley oversaw the growth of Baylor's endowment to $1.1 billion. New construction or major renovations on campus during Lilley's presidency included the Brooks Village Residential Community, the Alwin O. and Dorothy Highers Athletics Complex and the Simpson Athletics and Academic Center, the McMullen-Connally Faculty Center, and Sid Richardson Science Building which houses the Paul L. Foster Success Center.
Prior to returning to his alma mater, Lilley served for more than four years as the 14th president of the University of Nevada, Reno. Before assuming the presidency at Nevada, Reno, he was the head of Penn State Erie, leading the four-year and graduate campus of The Pennsylvania State University through a period of dramatic growth. During his tenure, enrollment doubled, admissions standards rose, and the college's physical campus grew from 400 to 750 acres. In July 2002, Penn State's trustees voted to name the Erie campus' new library in Lilley's honor. At the same time, he received Penn State Erie's top honor, the Behrend Medallion, for outstanding service to Penn State and the Erie community.
Lilley began his academic career as a faculty member at The Claremont Colleges in California. His scholarship focused on musical works from the Baroque and modern eras. In 1976, he was named assistant dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Kansas State University, where he chaired the college's curricular affairs committee, led a reform of the college's general education requirements, and supervised the student advising program.
A great believer in community service, Lilley joined the boards of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, the Reno Philharmonic, the Education Collaborative, the Erie Philharmonic, and WQLN, public radio and TV stations, among others. While at Penn State Erie, he served as president of the Rotary Club and chair of the United Way board. Professionally, he has been on the board of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities.
While a student at Baylor and USC, Lilley, a licensed minister, served as minister of music at four Baptist churches. He is married to the former Geraldine "Gerrie" Mills. They have four children between them.