Baylor Board Votes to Seek New President

  • News Photo 4521
    John M. Lilley
  • News Photo 4522
    Dr. Howard K. Batson
  • News Photo 4523
    Harold R. Cunningham
July 24, 2008

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-1961

GRAPEVINE, Texas - The Baylor University Board of Regents voted today to begin the search for a new University President. Board Chairman Dr. Howard K. Batson said the decision was necessary in order to unite Baylor's many constituencies and move the University forward in its next period of growth and renewal. Batson said the move represents the Regents' acknowledgement of a need for unifying leadership as Baylor strives to achieve its goals under Baylor 2012.

The Board had hoped to transition to a new president gradually, officially beginning the presidential search in January 2009 and eventually replacing Baylor President John M. Lilley during the final portion of his five-year contract. Because plans for a gradual transition were rejected by Dr. Lilley, the Board will immediately seek a new president.

The decision came during the Board of Regents annual summer retreat, which this year is being held in Grapevine, Texas.

"I'm not a liberty to discuss the specifics of this personnel decision," Batson said, "but we believe that Baylor must demonstrate its commitment to excellence in all areas, including communication and the building of relationships within the Baylor family. Change is always difficult, but Baylor has a solid leadership team in place and the university continues to experience unprecedented success in many areas. The Board is confident that the university will be able to press forward and continue its progress during this time of transition. The Board is appreciative of Dr. Lilley's service to Baylor, which includes a variety of significant accomplishments."

Harold Cunningham, a member of the Board of Regents who was previously board chair, will assume the role of acting president until such time as an interim president is named. According to Batson, "Harold has a track record of proven leadership and is well respected within the Baylor family. He has served Baylor previously in two different vice-presidential roles, including Vice President for Special Projects and Vice President for Finance and Administration, and as Acting Director of Operations. He has also done an outstanding job in his work on the Board of Regents."

It is expected that Cunningham will serve a brief period until an interim president is appointed. After an interim is chosen, the Board, in consultation with other constituencies of the Baylor family, will begin a comprehensive search for a new president.

"For 160 years," Batson said, "the University's success has been based upon the collective efforts of the entire university community working together. In this time of transition, we know that all members of the Baylor family will ensure that Baylor continues to do what it does best - provide an outstanding education in an environment that embraces both faith and learning, delivered by the best faculty."

The Board will conclude its three-day meeting on Friday.

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