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Senate letter to questionhiring process

Jan. 26, 2001

Faculty expresses concern about way dean was hired



Members of the Faculty Senate voted this week to send a letter to the provost expressing their concern about lack of faculty involvement in the dean selection process at George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

The senate is also inviting Dr. Donald Schmeltekopf, provost and vice president for academic affairs, to address the group at its February meeting.

Dr. Jay Losey, chairman of the Faculty Senate, said the senators are especially concerned that Baylor administration did not consult faculty or students before offering leadership of the seminary to Dr. Paul Powell, a retired pastor living in Tyler.

'The senate does not want to give the impression that it has a grievance against Paul Powell. That is not the case,' Losey, an associate professor of English, said. 'It is not about person; it's about process.'

Deans serve at the discretion of the president, but faculty members and students may be asked to provide input and recommendations for the position.

Losey, who plans to hand-deliver the letter Monday, said the senate believes that the Baylor administration bypassed this part of the process.

The original search for a dean at the seminary included a five-member faculty committee that proposed a list of three finalists to the president. However, when President Robert B. Sloan Jr.'s first choice for the position, Dr. Howard Batson of Amarillo, withdrew his name from consideration, no new search committee was formed.

Losey said the senate was pleased with the original search, which included both faculty and students, but that the absence of faculty input after Batson declined the position is a concern.

'We just don't know the facts, but we would like to know why the president and provost moved forward without having the faculty and the graduate students apprised of what was happening,' Losey said.

Larry Brumley, a Baylor spokesman, said that the situation at Truett is unique within the university.

'The seminary is at a critical point right now with the new building going up and anxiety in the state among Texas Baptists about what the fallout will be from recent changes,' Brumley said. 'There was a feeling that, given these factors, facing Truett and Texas Baptists, the decision could not wait.'

John G. Wilkerson, chairman of the Baylor Board of Regents, said Sloan did consult him about appointing Powell, who was a regent at the time, to be dean of the seminary but that the board of regents does not play an official role in the selection process.

Powell resigned from the regent board Thursday afternoon.

J. Kent Newsom, chairman of the seminary's board of advisers, said the seminary board was not consulted in the selection process but that members did not expect to provide input.

'Every school at Baylor has an advisory board that may be a little different in character than the others,' Newsom said. 'Our purpose is to advise the current dean and the administration.'

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