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Faculty grill Lilley on his views, goals

Nov. 17, 2005

By ANALIZ GONZALEZ, staff writer

Faculty members questioned Dr. John M. Lilley, Baylor president-elect, on his view of salaries, tenure, the role of faculty and his plans for Baylor's future during a forum Wednesday in the Cashion Academic Center.

About 100 faculty members attended the two-hour session, where disagreements surfaced on the question of which faculty members should be eligible for tenure. Lilley said he believed only professors with research experience should be able to acquire it, but he was willing to discuss the issue further.

Robyn Kenagy | Lariat staff
Dr. John M. Lilley, Baylor president-elect, answers questions from faculty Wednesday night in the Cashion Academic Center about the roles of faculty and the plans he has for Baylor's future. Lilley said he isn't afraid of fresh ideas or changes.
"I would expect ... that people who came in to earn tenure would be research and teaching faculty ... and that we would always appoint able lecturers and senior lecturers who would not earn tenure," he said.

Drawing from his experience at Penn State Erie and the University of Nevada, Reno, Lilley said he was accustomed to having lifelong and senior lecturers that made contributions to the universities but had no tenure.

Some disagreed with that perspective.

"From an AAUP (American Association of University Professors) standpoint, we would argue that if we are bringing in people to teach, even if they are brought in to teach the A courseload that they would be given the academic freedom, which is tenure," said religion lecturer Lynn Tatum. "But I hear you saying that that would not necessarily be the case. That we would bring people on designed to teach A courseloads, but they would not be given tenure."

According to Baylor's employment policies, all tenure-track faculty are designated into "Profile A" or "Profile B" categories. Both groups are evaluated by their peers, chairs and senior administration on their teaching and service to Baylor, but those in Profile B are also evaluated with respect to their research and scholarship.

Despite the disagreement, Lilley said he'd be willing to hear arguments about changing the tenure policy.

With regard to the role of faculty members, Lilley said he wants them to be open about their views -- even if they conflict with his own.

"If faculty are too quiet and too docile, that's as dangerous as you trying to kill me," he said. "If you hold back and don't tell me something that I need to know, that's the most dangerous thing of all."

Lilley said he was accustomed to meeting regularly with the University of Nevada, Reno, Faculty Senate, answering questions and attending most of their meetings.

Lilley also said he is not afraid of new ideas and changes.

"All of you must be putting forward ideas and programs and cutting-edge stuff," he said. "Better to be on the edge and change, and say, 'Hmm that didn't hold up,' than to say, 'Well, this is the way we've done it over the last 30 years and we know the world's changed, but we're stuck on doing it the way we've done it for the last 30 years.'"

Lilley also said he wants to find ways to raise more money for the university.

"As grateful as I am for all the good that Baylor is ... it's not good enough," he said. "The financial model will not work here unless serious money is raised."

Concerning faculty benefits and salary raises, Lilley said he couldn't give a detailed answer because he is still learning the ropes at Baylor. He did, however, emphasize the importance of competitive salaries.

When asked about his strengths and weaknesses in leadership, Lilley said he had an ability to "plan strategically and allocate money to areas that are most important."

But before taking Baylor through a strategic planning process, he said he would make sure the faculty was informed about why the process was necessary.