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Lilley transplanted to Texas

Nov. 8, 2005

by JOSH HORTON, editor in chief

The Baylor Board of Regents named Dr. John M. Lilley as Baylor's 13th president Friday.

The board unanimously selected Lilley, current president of the University of Nevada, Reno, and Baylor alumnus. Lilley will serve as UNR president for the rest of the semester and will take office at Baylor Jan. 2.

Jessie Solomon | Lariat staff
Dr. John M. Lilley, president of the University of Nevada, Reno, will become Baylor's 13th president on Jan. 2. He was presented to the university at halftime during Saturday's football game against The University of Texas.

"At every place of service in his career, Dr. Lilley has been known as a consensus builder," regent chairman Will Davis said. "His collaborative approach involving governing boards, faculty, staff, alumni, students and friends has allowed him to lead the campuses he served through periods of dramatic growth and enhancement."

Interim President William D. Underwood will fill the post until Lilley officially comes to Baylor. The search committee unanimously recommended Lilley for the presidency.

Lilley just signed a contract extension with UNR to run through June 2009, and said he only would have made a move for Baylor.

"This is not something I sought, not something I expected ... And I am very grateful," Lilley said in Friday's press conference.

Lilley said that despite Baylor's controversies, the university has made progress.

"You don't move to a top-tier university and you don't deal with the intentionality of it being a Christian university in the Baptist tradition without Baptists, as we love to do, disagreeing. But Baptists also come together," Lilley said.

"The question is, how do we implement that? What is the balance needed? What is the touch needed? That is going to be a long series of conversations."

He said he wants to operate the university based on a system of trust.

"My fundamental premise is that communication builds trust and lack of communication builds mistrust," Lilley said.

Lilley received bachelor's degrees in music from Baylor in 1961 and 1962 and a master's degree in 1964. He received his doctorate in music from the University of Southern California in 1971.

Lilley became UNR's president in 2001. Before that, he served as the president of Penn State Erie from 1980 to 2001. Lilley was a ruling elder at the First Presbyterian Church of the Covenant in Reno, but joined First Baptist Church Waco on Sunday.

In January, the Baylor Alumni Association gave Lilley the 2005 Distinguished Alumnus Award.