Monday, October 16, 2006

Baylor's Troubles: President John M. Lilley

I have posted about my university, Baylor, from time to time. It seems, however, that at the core of the problems Baylor faces today is the newly inaugurated President John M. Lilley.

Shortly after arriving at Baylor, Lilley decides to deny tenure to the highly regarded Dr. Francis J. Beckwith. It was only under immense pressure from students, alumni, faculty, parents, and others that this decision was reversed.

Lilley then decided to deny funding to the Forensic Science program at Baylor. Though this is a long and still-developing controversy, it appears that the faculty gave President Lilley a proposal that had two options. The first was to allocate the proper funds to make the Forensic Science program an accredited major. The second stated that if such funds were denied, there would be no other option but to close the Forensic Science major. President Lilley decided not to allocate the funds.

Shortly thereafter, Lilley decided that the interlocking "BU" symbol, which has represented Baylor University for generations and is federally trademarked for Baylor University, needed to go. He argued that the "BU" symbol would cause confusion with Boston University. This too, is a currently-developing controversy.

Lilley then proposed that the College of Arts and Sciences at Baylor University be split. This is something Lilley tried at the University of Nevada at Reno with no success. The university faculty at UNR overwhelmingly opposed Lilley's plan (which was proposed within less than a year of arriving at UNR). The last update from a reliable source was that Lilley had temporarily dropped plans to split the College of Arts and Sciences but may pick them up again in the future.

Not only did the facutly at Baylor greatly oppose Lilley's proposal, it appears that most respected schools (with a few exceptions) in America have a unified College of Arts of Sciences. Here are just a few examples:

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (Columbia University)
College of Arts and Sciences (Cornell University)
Graduate Arts and Sciences Program (Dartmouth College)
Arts and Sciences and Trinity College (Duke University)
Georgetown College (Georgetown University)
Faculty of Arts and Sciences (Harvard University)
School of Humanities and Sciences (Stanford University)
The College (Washington and Lee University)
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (Yale University)

It seems that President Lilley's priorities are out of order and that he is making the wrong decisions. Unless Lilley begins to reconsider what he was hired by Baylor to do and the direction that he was asked to take the university, Baylor is on a path in the opposite direction of their Baylor 2012 vision. I hope President Lilley will reconsider what he is doing before any more damage is done.


Ryan said...

Baylor decided today to boot Lilley and seek a new interim president. One of the members of the board will be the temporary president until they can find a new one! Good news for Baylor!

Ricky Leung said...

I graduated in 2000 when Dr. Sloan was the president. I am sad to see the change of presidents at Baylor like the merry-go-around in these years. When Dr. Lilley was appointed, it was a unanimous decision. However, it seems to be a mistake. I sincerely hope that Baylor will find the right president soon. I love the school.