Presidential Search Committee Holds Listening Sessions With Alumni

May 8, 2009

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

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Baylor University's Presidential Search Committee held two listening sessions this week with alumni and friends in Houston and San Antonio, as Baylor continues the search for the university's 14th president. Houston-area alumni gathered May 5 at Tallowood Baptist Church, while San Antonio-area alumni met with the committee May 7 at Shearer Hills Baptist Church.

"It is very important to the search committee that we hear from all members of the Baylor family, and this was our first opportunity to hold sessions specifically for Baylor alumni and friends," said Joe Armes, chair of Baylor's Presidential Search Committee. "Baylor alumni share a deep love for their alma mater and a common desire for Baylor to succeed in finding the right person to lead the university. We appreciate their valuable insight and taking time out of their busy schedules to meet with us this week, and we look forward to future alumni listening sessions."

The series of listening sessions hosted by the committee provide an organized forum for Baylor's constituents to offer input regarding the university's next president. Previous general sessions were held on campus for faculty, students and staff. The committee also has met individually with Faculty Senate, Staff Council, Executive Council, Student Government, Council of Deans and Waco-area community leaders.

Five members of the Presidential Search Committee and three members of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee were in Houston for the first alumni listening session. In San Antonio, two members from each committee met with local alumni and friends.

During the listening sessions, Baylor alumni shared their perspective about the personal and professional characteristics and qualities that are most important in Baylor's next president. More than 25 alumni and friends attended each session in Houston and San Antonio.

"What we lacked in quantity, we certainly gained in quality," said Randolph L. Pullin, CPA and chief financial officer of Stedman West Interests Inc. in Houston, who serves as alumnus-at-large on the Baylor Presidential Search Advisory Committee. Pullin attended the Houston session.

"There were a number of former Regents in the group that gave our committees a tremendous amount of insight and wisdom since they had been there before. There also were a number of other individuals who are leaders in business and other fields in the Houston area who gave a host of excellent suggestions on how to conduct the search, how to operate in the committee structure and how to pursue a strong candidate for our 14th president," Pullin said.

"It is my impression that the Baylor family is really not too far apart on what we are looking for in our next president," he added. "It was also clear that everyone in the room wants Baylor to succeed under the new leadership. My hope is that the other listening sessions around the state will go as well, be as open and maintain the same spirit."

"There were people attending who have participated in previous searches, people who conduct searches for a living, and people who have been hiring Baylor students for years as part of their employment," said Justice Thomas R. Phillips, retired Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court and current partner with Baker Botts LLP, Austin, who represents the Baylor Alumni Association on the Presidential Search Advisory Committee. Phillips attended both Houston and San Antonio sessions.

"There was a cross-section of people who provided a lot of insight into the difference that a president can make, the strengths and weaknesses of past presidents and the requirements we need now in a president, because obviously different times can call for different strengths and talents," Phillips added. "There was a lot of good advice on how to conduct a search and the questions to ask."

Additional statewide listening sessions with alumni are scheduled in May. Two sessions for Dallas/Fort Worth-area alumni and friends will be held on Tuesday, May 19, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Fort Worth Club and from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at the InterContinental Hotel in Addison. A listening session for Waco/Central Texas alumni and friends will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, May 21, on the fifth floor of the Cashion Academic Center.

The Presidential Search Committee also will meet in a private session with Baptist General Convention of Texas leaders on May 18 in Dallas.

Additional information, including a form to provide input to the search committees and audio podcasts of all open sessions, can be found at www.baylor.edu/president/search.

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