Transcript of Regent News ConferenceJuly 15, 2005
At the conclusion of the annual retreat meeting of the Baylor University Board of Regents July 13-15, Board Chairman Will D. Davis and Interim President William D. Underwood spoke to reporters about regent business, integration of faith and learning, the balance of teaching and research, the presidential search and other campus concerns.
The following is a transcript of the news conference.
Streaming video of the news conference also is available at BaylorTV.com.
Read the Regents' resolution here.
Larry Brumley, senior associate vice president for external relations: Good afternoon. Chairman Will Davis is going to come and make some summary comments about this week's Board of Regents meeting, and then President Underwood will come and make a few remarks about the meeting. And then we'll open it up to your questions. Chairman Davis?
Will D. Davis, chairman of the Baylor Board of Regents: This meeting as you probably have known from previous handouts is what we call our summer retreat meeting. Normal meetings go over a day and a half, summer retreat meetings go over two and a half days. We use that extra time primarily to review and analyze and discuss and educate ourselves and the entire Board of Regents about matters that are of interest and concern to faculty, administrators, alumni and whoever, also Regents.
We spent this learning session this year looking at aspects of the very, very prominent Baylor mission, which has been somewhat confused or not fully understood in lots of ways by constituencies and Regents as well. And I am talking about the integration of faith and learning and the relationship between teaching and research or scholarly activity.
We spent several hours in panel discussions and leadership forums talking about those particular items, first one we had was the integration of faith and learning and then the relationship of research and scholarly activity with great teaching going on. There has been some debate and some questions about that on campus and so we wanted to find out and make sure the leadership of the university had a full grasp on what that meant and what is was all about.
We had enormous participation, a lot of participation by the Regents in the discussion, although we had really good leadership, and the people we had on the panels, including Dr. Underwood. And today the Regents responded by adopting the resolution which you have before you which is a re-acclamation of 2012 and the openness of the issues relating to faith and learning and the balance between good teaching and opportunity for research at Baylor.
We hope that the resolution will clarify any questions whatsoever and remove any questions about the fact that Baylor is both a great teaching institution but with openness to research and motivation to research, carried on by those professors who are doing the teaching. Of course we are fairly committed to the integration of faith and learning as I have said repeatedly at a lot of our other listening sessions that some of you have been in.
The first thing we have is the seal of Baylor University that says Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana, for the church and for the state and for their activity and involvement. So it's not new to Baylor but we are clarifying and making sure that all of our constituents understand that Baylor is committed to both of those broad concepts and broad ideas. As far as I am personally concerned, I think that is the most important thing that we did.
We cleared the air from the Regents stand point and as your handout says, we authorized the hiring of an architectural firm and the developing of engineering about an additional residential facility. Somebody has already given it the name the Brooks Facility, or the replacement of the Brooks Facility, I don't know the Regents have voted on that yet, so it may change to the Davis Facility, who knows?
As I said, this is summer, our summer retreat, educational, not much of real substance except the resolution, and I think that from my standpoint and I think from the Regents' standpoint and probably from faculty standpoint is a very significant resolution. Bill, I really want to call him Bill, I mean President Underwood...
William D. Underwood, Interim Baylor President: Thank you, Will, or Chairman Davis. I agree with Will Davis. We've had a very good retreat. We've discussed a couple of the most interesting topics that we've been debating on campus over the last two years. We had extended discussion on Wednesday of different ways to go about integrating faith and learning, and I think the Regents' understanding of that topic was deepened. I know my own understanding of that topic deepened as a result of the panel discussion. And I think it was very helpful and positive. Thursday we had an extended discussion of the proper relationship between teaching and research and what the proper emphasis of the university is. And again I found it to be a very educational discussion, and I think I benefited from it and I suspect the Regents did as well. I think it was a very positive upbeat meeting and we're pleased that I think we've made some progress on these important issues. I would be glad to answer any questions, and I know the chairman will, as well.
Reporter question: Enhanced opportunities for research. What does that mean in a practical sense?
President Underwood: What that means is that we are going to continue what we have been doing and that is look for ways to give faculty members more time to engage in reflection and research and writing. We are going to continue exploring ways to adjust teaching loads as appropriate to provide faculty members with the resources necessary to engage in research and scholarship in the field.
Reporter question: Will more long-term faculty focus more on teaching, and research be more relegated to new faculty?
President Underwood: Great teaching is expected of every member of our faculty. And we believe that providing our faculty with more opportunities for research and reflection and writing they can become even better teachers than they already are.
Chairman Davis: We hope Mike that this resolution and our studies in the last few days will put to rest any belief that we are banning commitment to research and great teaching, or that research is not expected. It is expected, in a teaching environment.
Reporter question: Update on how the search for the presidency has been going?
Chairman Davis: It's going good.
Reporter question: Where are we at?
Chairman Davis: Well, we are in the research process. We are interviewing people. We have really moved out of the study session, so to speak, and we are in the interview part of that process. We are interviewing candidates and there is no favorite candidate, nobody has gotten ahead of the rest of the pack. We are in that process and it is a rather slow, developmental relationship sort of thing and we're trying to come to accommodation with ourselves about the type of candidate and how these candidates need to be, but we are making good progress.
Reporter question: No finalists yet.
Chairman Davis: Oh no, not at all.
Reporter question: Can you give us a ball park when you might have that list?
Chairman Davis: You know, I really can't. It is unfair for me to say that I haven't said previously that I thought we could get through by the fall or sometime in September. I said that and I still say that, but that is not a timeline. It is not a timeline, it is just a reaction of mine.
Reporter question: But it's going well.
Chairman Davis: It's going well and we are very pleased the nature of the candidates that we have interviewed.
Reporter question: During the retreat reaffirming the vision of Baylor 2012, what, and since it came out in the Waco Tribune-Herald about the private investigator (unintelligible), do you think that's causing divisiveness?
Chairman Davis: Frankly, I was stunned when I heard about that because it is so nonsensical to me. It makes no sense at all, because I can't, I have yet to figure out why anybody would hire a private investigator, who is so inept that he gets his name disclosed first thing, he hands out his card and couldn't find out anything because there is not anything to find out bad about Bill Underwood.
President Underwood: Well, you should talk to my wife. She's got all kinds of stuff.
Chairman Davis: Well, I said to myself, it had to be staged this way, with this person and the people that hired him, if this is true. And we don't even know if it is true. But the story that you paper quotes as this man being involved in, would make it seem that it came out of comic book somewhere. But anyway, I don't know anything about it and it's just foolish to me. It doesn't make any sense whatsoever and I don't know any person who has any connection with it. And I asked many of the regents, who like myself are just confused about it. It is kind of a game, looks to me like somebody was playing a joke. Maybe Mr. Wilson just wanted his name in the paper, not doing so well and wanted to advertise his firm or something, I don't know.
Reporter question: Faith and learning. How would you characterize that discussion and what were the range of opinions on what that means for Baylor?
President Underwood: I think there was a remarkable degree of consensus on the issue. I don't think there was anything you would describe as rancor, or even more likely anything that you would describe as disagreement.
Chairman Davis: You know the integration of faith and learning is Baylor's mission. Good education and good faith, in a Christian, Baptist community and improving the intellect of the students that come here.
President Underwood: And you know I think the Board reaffirmed the wide range of approaches to the integration of faith and learning and that it is appropriate and what we are looking for here at Baylor.
Chairman Davis: You know I don't like to look at it as a marketing device, but Baylor has got a great niche, with the integration of faith and learning. Very few universities that are deposited across America that can do that and also be in the Big 12. Bill likes to talk about having a great academic program and a great Christian program and being in the Big 12 Athletic Conference. You can't find many universities even remotely close to that.