Text Of Remarks By Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr.

Jan. 21, 2005


Text of remarks by Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. at today's news conference:

There is a time and an appointed purpose for every event under Heaven. During my student days, just like the thousands of young people at Baylor here today, I came to love this place and it has touched every season of my life since then. I have a long history with this place. I have been a Baylor student, a freshman athlete, a professor, a parent of students, and the first dean of Truett Seminary. Being named President a decade ago was the surprising culmination of a series of opportunities to serve Baylor. It has been a great privilege to lead this great institution that has meant so much to the church, to Texas, and to the world.

Baylor has a storied past full of great deeds and memories. Every President inherits that strong foundation and honors it as he accepts the challenge of taking the university into the future. In the dynamic field of higher education, the focus must always be on the horizon.

What I see looking ahead for Baylor is tremendously compelling. Our commitment to the 2012 Vision, which sets forth the goal of ascending to the top tier of American universities while maintaining our firm commitment to a uniquely Baptist and distinctively Christian identity, ensures that there is no more exciting place to be in Christian higher education than Baylor.

For years observers have proclaimed that secularization is inevitable in the modern university. Thanks to our Board of Regents and their twice unanimous endorsement of the vision, Baylor is proof that the story of Christianity and the university is still being written. Integrating the best of the Christian tradition with the finest standards of scholarship and teaching is Baylor's special vocation.

During these last few years, Baylor has raced ahead, determined to build on our historic foundations. We have maintained our traditional teaching excellence, added strong research capability with new faculty, attracted excellent students, made massive improvements to our campus, and seen our athletic programs and facilities reach unprecedented levels of excellence, with a trip to the Sweet 16 for last year's Lady Bears, a national championship in Men's Tennis, and Olympic gold for our athletes.

But the natural side effect of change is conflict. We moved quickly and boldly to implement the vision and found that Baylor is not immune to the discomfort and insecurity generated by change. My leadership has often been a lightning rod for that discomfort.

But the focus should always be on the vision, not on the President. Though I have worked hard to cultivate mutual understanding with those who disagree with various decisions or even my management style, the reality is that my role as President has become a distraction from the main goal of fulfilling the vision. The vision is more important than any one person. No one is indispensable. Changing situations often require new leaders with different gifts and the benefit of a clean slate.

It has been my privilege to launch Baylor upon this exciting journey of Baylor 2012 and lead the university beyond the inertia of the status quo. Now that the voyage is well underway, it is time for someone new to navigate these sometimes choppy waters, while continuing to aim for the carefully charted destination ahead.

For that reason, the Board of Regents and I have mutually agreed that I will leave the president's office to become Chancellor at the end of the current semester. The Regents and I remain firmly committed to the vision. From the post of Chancellor, I will focus on fundraising, recruitment, and promoting Baylor 2012 every way I can. This university and the vision for its future remain my passion and my calling.

I would like to thank some of the people who aided me tremendously in doing the job of President: my office staff, who are like a second family to me--Pam, Judy, and Rita. It has been a privilege over these years to work with Executive Council members like Don Schmeltekopf, Harold Cunningham, Clif Williams, Steve Moore, Bill Underwood, Stan Madden, Tom Stanton, Guinn Morris, Jerome Loughridge, Larry Brumley, David Brooks, and other former members of my Executive Council team. Current Executive Council members are some of the finest leaders I have ever known, leaders like Richard Scott, David Jeffrey, Tommye Lou Davis, Noley Bice, Eileen Hulme, Marilyn Crone, Van Gray, Reagan Ramsower, Ian McCaw, and Kim Gaynor. We have faced some adversity, but it just makes the friendships stronger.

I especially want to reference the unbelievable array of students I have had the privilege to work with, students like Student Body President, Jeff Leach, and truly thousands of others who, like me in my student days, have learned to love this place.

I want to thank my wife, Sue Sloan, and our seven children, plus now two children-in-law, for their love and support: Charissa, Bryan and Amy, Eraina and Bryan Larson, Michael, Alathea, Sophia, and Paul. They have sacrificed much for me and for Baylor. Only Heaven can keep that account.

I would also like to extend a special thanks to Will Davis for his statesmanlike leadership as chairman of the Board of Regents during the last several months. His common sense, calm demeanor, and dedication to fairness are invaluable to accomplishing the work of a deliberative body like the university's board. I thank him for his wise counsel and his friendship. I trust Will Davis and I have great confidence in his leadership and in the future of our Board and its decisions. Baylor will continue to benefit from Will Davis' passion for excellence which manifests itself in strong support of Vision 2012.

There are undeniable challenges still ahead. They come with the territory. But I am convinced that the Board of Regents and the Baylor family will welcome the new president and give their all to achieve both unity with purpose and continued progress.

Now as President and beginning June 1 as Chancellor, I will continue to dedicate myself to these ends, for the good of Baylor and for Baylor's destined role in the Kingdom of God.

Thank you.

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