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Underwood's term set stage for new leader

Nov. 29, 2005


As the semester winds down, we'd like to take the opportunity to thank interim President William D. Underwood for the positive work he's done during his presidency.

From day one, Underwood has embraced a policy of openness and transparency, saying many times that when you're honest with people, good things happen.

Ben Humeniuk | Lariat staff

That honesty has been apparent in his dealings with the media, even when it's inconvenient for him. He's always responded promptly to the Lariat's calls and has talked to other news media honestly as well.

It's a small but significant gesture that Underwood remembers names and takes the time to ask how things are going.

Perhaps more importantly, he's been good to the faculty and staff. Immediately after taking the post, he gave Baylor employees a $1,000 bonus. When he and his staff proposed a tuition increase, they made a point of saying they wanted to use the extra money to increase employees' salaries.

He also asked the Faculty Senate to open up its meetings, and it responded by giving all faculty an open invitation to attend.

He's been open about the finances of the university, giving the Baylor family specific numbers about the school's pocketbook. That's something the previous administration was consistently hesitant to do.

Maybe the most crucial thing he's done here is break down some of the distrust and bickering among the Baylor family. Although he rocked the boat a little with some of the moves he made at the beginning of his presidency, such as replacing former Provost David Jeffrey with Randall O'Brien, the overall atmosphere on campus is much calmer than it used to be.

Underwood has left the university in much better shape than when he started, which is the mark of a good leader.

In doing so, he also set the stage for the next leader of the university.

President-elect John Lilley is a veteran president, but now has a good model for the leadership style that works for Baylor. If he operates with the same level of honesty that Underwood has, he should enjoy great success as a president.

Anything less would be a disservice to the Baylor family.