This paper has recently published a large number of guest columns and editorials taking sides with the self-styled “Bears for Leadership Reform” in their ongoing feud with Baylor University regents. On May 7, Royce Starnes expressed shock that “not a single member of the board of regents has been held accountable for what happened on their watch.”
This statement, and the general tone of the criticisms of the regents, reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of a governing board at a private university. The role of the board is clear: Their job is to hire the president, adopt fundamental policies and directions for the university and set the budget parameters.
It is not the job of a governing board to supervise Baylor’s student life staff, the athletic staff, the Baylor police or the counseling staff. If the regents were involved in such micro-managing, that would be cause for grave concern.
The idea of holding regents responsible for grave mistakes made at Baylor is wrong-headed. The regents’ responsibility was to hold accountable the people responsible for carrying out the policies, starting at the top. This they did. Thus, the president, the athletic director and the football coach were dismissed. New policies to correct mistakes were adopted. Those are being implemented.
Are there other employees at Baylor who should be held responsible and disciplined? Perhaps. I have no way of knowing. However, if there are other administrators who bear responsibility, I believe the new president, Linda Livingstone, will do the right thing. A new president deserves her own team in any case.
Meanwhile, I implore those continually criticizing Baylor in a public way to cease and desist. You are doing serious damage to Baylor’s reputation and demoralizing those of us who work to make Baylor a great place for students. Perhaps those of you who are not on campus every day do not realize how dispiriting it is to read such diatribes in the daily paper several times a week.
I am confident the regents will never agree to open board meetings, nor should they. There is a good reason no private universities do this. I just voted to elect an alumni representative for Yale, one of my alma maters, and I am sure Yale would never dream of opening up board meetings. Everyone knows this would impair the honest exchange of opinions in today’s world.
It looks very much as if many of the people involved in this drumbeat of criticism are those connected with the former Baylor Alumni Association, now the Baylor Line Foundation. It is well-known that this group has been feuding with the regents for many years. To use the horrible incidents of sexual assault at Baylor to try to gain power and settle old scores is deplorable.
It’s time to forgive and forget, including whatever grievances the alumni group has with regents. It’s time to see if new policies and new administrators at Baylor can right the ship. It’s time to quit undermining the university you claim to love.
I have been at Baylor for 16 years. During that time the regents have consistently held to their goals of making Baylor a truly first-rate university while maintaining and deepening Baylor’s Christian identity. Many naysayers said 16 years ago that both of these goals could not be achieved. Yet Baylor has made great progress during this period.
Baylor regents deserve credit for this, not because they have micro-managed the university but because they have ensured their policies are being followed. Many excellent new faculty have been motivated to come here. It is a wonderful place to teach and do research. The success of Baylor and the future of Waco are closely connected. The Tribune-Herald should not be trying to undermine Waco’s greatest asset. Baylor cannot thrive without Waco and Waco cannot thrive without Baylor.