The “yes” vote on the so-called “transition agreement,” though winning a majority of Baylor Alumni Association members last weekend, failed to garner the two-thirds vote required for enactment. Baylor University has now acted on its promise to terminate license agreements with the BAA, which could remove the name “Baylor” from the group and its magazine. With hopes for consolidation gone, the future of the 154-year-old BAA is uncertain.
Since introduction of the proposed transition agreement earlier this summer, a number of letters and columns have been published in everything from The Baylor Line to the Tribune-Herald expressing opinions of those for and against this pact. For the most part, opinions expressed were done in a civil manner. In sharp contrast, pieces by Bill Carden, Stan Schlueter and Jim Cole continued in what can best be described as character assassination of former Baylor President Robert B. Sloan and the current president, Judge Ken Starr. And in a civil manner with plenty of thoughtful detail, Baylor professor Robert Baird, in discussing the pros and cons of the agreement, mentioned in his final paragraph “the years of the Sloan crisis.”
Webster’s defines crisis as “a time of great danger or trouble, whose outcome decides whether possible bad consequences will follow.” A review of the accomplishments under Sloan’s administration will dispel any notion that the Sloan years marked a crisis.
In 1995, Sloan, serving as dean of the George W. Truett Theological Seminary, was elected by regents to succeed retiring Baylor President Herbert Reynolds. A few years later, Baylor released “Baylor 2012,” a vision for Baylor’s future in the 21st century. While the initial skepticism voiced by many was somewhat justified at the time, developments in the ensuing years dispelled those early concerns.
Under Sloan’s leadership, numerous accomplishments unfolded: construction of the Umphrey Law Center, Truett Seminary, Dutton Office and Parking Facility, Mayborn Museum Complex, Baylor Sciences Building, Getterman Stadium and substantial improvements to Baylor Ballpark. While the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative was started after his departure, it can be seen as an extension of his goal to ensure Baylor was recognized as an outstanding research university. The beauty of the campus along University Parks Drive, to a degree, can be attributed to the tenure of Sloan.
The accomplishments of Baylor sports during the 2012-13 school year can in large part be attributed directly or indirectly to Sloan. He was directly involved in the employment of Kim Mulkey as head coach for women’s basketball. What she has done for Baylor in winning two national championships is immeasurable. Scott Drew, a very fine basketball coach, was employed during Sloan’s tenure. Glenn Moore, outstanding Baylor softball coach, also was employed during his tenure.
Sloan was personally involved in the employment of Ian McCaw as athletic director, arguably the best in all college athletics. What McCaw has accomplished in his short time at Baylor is truly remarkable. Among those accomplishments: employment of Art Briles as head football coach. Without Briles, Baylor would not have had Robert Griffin III, whose own contributions as a Heisman Trophy winner, No. 2 selection in the 2012 NFL draft and great ambassador for Baylor is similarly immeasurable.
It has been said that the content of the lengthy document resulting from the efforts of the Strategic Themes Committee, under the very capable leadership of Elizabeth Davis, executive vice president and provost, that led to Pro Futuris is but an extension of the goals set forth in Baylor 2012 under Sloan.
In my considered opinion, Robert B. Sloan should be remembered as one of the great presidents of Baylor University. Despite the arrows of his critics, these accomplishments under his tenure speak for themselves.
A Navy communications officer who saw action in Iwo Jima and Okinawa during World War II, 90-year-old Carroll Webb received his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Baylor in 1947, then joined the Dallas office of Haskins & Sells, now Deloitte & Touche. A longtime Baylor supporter, Webb retired in 1985. He settled in Waco to be near Baylor in 1992.