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Lilley quizzed at first open Senate

Nov. 16, 2005

By ANALIZ GONZALEZ, staff writer

Dr. John M. Lilley, Baylor president-elect, spoke Tuesday to about 45 people who attended the first Faculty Senate meeting open to all faculty.

The meeting was held in the Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center instead of the usual location in the Cashion Academic Center location to accommodate more than the 34 Faculty Senate members.

Dr. Eric L. Robinson, Faculty Senate chairman, said Lilley spent more than an hour and a half answering questions about provost selection, among other things.

Henry Chan | Lariat staff
Dr. Eric L. Robinson, Faculty Senate chairman, speaks with Dr. Linda Garner, a Senate member on Tuesday night after the first Faculty Senate meeting open to the entire faculty.
Robinson said he assumes Lilley doesn't know who he will select to replace current provost Randall O'Brien. But Robinson said he expects Lilley to request a national provost search -- something Robinson said will likely please most of the Faculty Senate.

"A national search means you are going to advertise nationally and look for the best person who is out there across all the academic settings," he said.

Robinson said he thought the faculty felt "comfortable" with Baylor's new president.

"I'll speak for me, and I think most people here were ... very impressed with what he is bringing to us," he said.

He added that faculty members asked him some pointed questions but also made funny comments and had some "lively moments."

Robinson said two issues were discussed during the meeting with Lilley: research, scholarship and how they are played out at Baylor; and what it means for Baylor to be a Christian university in a Baptist tradition.

Associate history professor Dr. David Longfellow said he's heard Lilley speak to faculty groups twice and found him "open, forthcoming (and) receptive to questions."

"I am very encouraged by our prospect of working together in his presidency," Longfellow said.

Longfellow also said he would support a decision to open all meetings to faculty.

"It is important to let faculty members be able to attend. They are their faculty representatives after all," he said. "They should be able to watch them and what they say and how well they are representing the viewpoints that concern them."

He also said attendance at Faculty Senate meetings will likely depend on the issues at hand.

"Watching the Faculty Senate in operation is kind of like watching sausage being made," Longfellow said. "You're probably more pleased with the product than you are with watching the process. I think whether people attend the Faculty Senate meeting or not will probably have more to do with whether there is an important issue being discussed, so it's going to vary quite a bit."

Robinson said financial issues were discussed after Vice President for Finance and Administration Reagan M. Ramsower presented a financial update.

"Faculty are very happy to have transparency in where we are financially," Robinson said. "That is the key thing that people walked away with. I think that by sharing information with faculty and the larger Baylor community we are going to be able to make things more financially healthy."

Lilley told the Lariat he did not have time to comment.