"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

World Magazine on Baylor

The leading Christian weekly has done a quick story on Baylor that will hopefully lead to more in depth writing later. Here's the link.

And here's a taste:

So now Baylor is in turmoil again. Evangelical graduate students who came to Baylor because of its growing reputation as a Christian university tell of being harassed by liberal professors now exulting in their victory. Evangelical faculty members supportive of Dr. Jeffrey are up in arms. The Board of Regents is now torn with new controversy, with some members angry at the apparent coup by the opponents of Baylor 2012.

"Why oust people and try to implant some committed to the 'old days,' when a new regime is about to begin?" asks Baylor professor Rodney Stark. "And why all the subtle attacks on faith?" Mr. Stark, a renowned sociologist of religion who came to the university because of Baylor 2012, believes that the vision is still alive, thanks to the nucleus of Christian scholars already assembled.

But, he warns, "It won't do to just continue to refer to Baylor as a Christian school. If, as Underwood seems to want, Baylor ceases to ask candidates for faculty appointments to make a confession of Christian faith, in very short order Baylor will be a formerly Christian school, just like hundreds of others—a place where students will soon encounter faculty who make fun of faith, or worse." But, he said, any new president who is willing to continue to require a confession of faith from new faculty members "will preside over the Baylor envisioned in 2012."

In July, the Board will choose that new president. The choice will determine whether Baylor will continue its quest to become, in Mr. Stark's words, "the only great Christian research university in the world." —•

11 comments:

John Huisman said...

I hope things work out.

Tlaloc said...

""Why oust people and try to implant some committed to the 'old days,' when a new regime is about to begin?" asks Baylor professor Rodney Stark."

Wouldn't those faculty who don't seem to agree with the 2012 vision have just as much right to ask why they should be subjected to a program they don't agree with? It seems like a simple case of a program that some like and some don't, and yet the article takes the side that the one is inherently right while the other is not. Perhaps that bias should be examined.

Anonymous said...

Tialoc is wrong. The university is run by the Board of Regents who developed 2012 after numerous meetings with faculty, department chairs, etc. Surely, some faculty will disagree. But once the Board says--"this is our vision"--the debate is over. To conspire to undermine the implementation of the vision, after it has been unanimously approved by the Board, is a violation of the procedures of the university's governance. Faculty who do not agree may go elsewhere. Of course, many of them can't get a job elsewhere, because they are mediocre never-wases (since they have accomplished nothing, it's not right to call them "has beens").

If you compare the faculty brought under 2012 to the good-old-boy-Central-Texas-backslapping-hillibies that have been there since the beginning (Darwinian, of course), it's not even a close call. Do you think a guy like Stark would have considered leaving U. of Washington to come to WACO (for God's sake)?

The board's deference to the past is a sad joke. The interim president--Bill Underwood--is a Planned Parenthood supporting liberal Baptist, who doesn't believe in "creeds" but knows what a Baptist is. (This, by the way, is one of the most frustrating aspects about Baylor Baptist culture--it's incoherent theological gibberish that cloaks the provincial parochial social world: Green Acres Meets the Stepford Wives).

Here's the problem: you can't Bil Underwood to go to hell because he doesn't believe in it.

Anonymous said...

Tialoc is wrong. The university is run by the Board of Regents who developed 2012 after numerous meetings with faculty, department chairs, etc. Surely, some faculty will disagree. But once the Board says--"this is our vision"--the debate is over. To conspire to undermine the implementation of the vision, after it has been unanimously approved by the Board, is a violation of the procedures of the university's governance. Faculty who do not agree may go elsewhere. Of course, many of them can't get a job elsewhere, because they are mediocre never-wases (since they have accomplished nothing, it's not right to call them "has beens").

If you compare the faculty brought under 2012 to the good-old-boy-Central-Texas-backslapping-hillibies that have been there since the beginning (Darwinian, of course), it's not even a close call. Do you think a guy like Stark would have considered leaving U. of Washington to come to WACO (for God's sake)?

The board's recent deference to the past is a sad joke. The interim president--Bill Underwood--is a Planned Parenthood supporting liberal Baptist, who doesn't believe in "creeds" but knows what a Baptist is. (This, by the way, is one of the most frustrating aspects about Baylor Baptist culture--it's incoherent theological gibberish that cloaks the provincial parochial social world: Green Acres Meets the Stepford Wives).

Here's the problem: you can't tell Bil Underwood to go to hell because he doesn't believe in it.

John Huisman said...

Anonymous said, "But once the Board says--"this is our vision"--the debate is over. To conspire to undermine the implementation of the vision, after it has been unanimously approved by the Board, is a violation of the procedures of the university's governance."

I agree with you Anonymous, but the problem seems to be that the Board itself is somewhat wishy-washy on the issue. You and Hunter Baker know a lot more about this situation than I do, so maybe one of you can answer these questions for me: If the Board was all that committed to Baylor 2012, If the Board wanted to establish Baylor as a world-class Christian University, why did their support for Sloan waver, and why in the world did they appoint Underwood as the interim President?

S. T. Karnick said...

Mr. Huisman's questions are very good ones, the answers to which I, too, should greatly like to know.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. Good questions. Here's what I think is going on. The Board consists of men and women who have deep connections in Baptist life, which means that they have dear friends on both sides. The anti-2012 friends tell them that it is not 2012 they oppose, but Sloan's management style. All we need, they argue, is to remove Sloan and Jeffrey, and all will be fine with Baylor; 2012 is great, but it's the implementation that's offensive. Then there are those on the Board who really do not agree with 2012, but since it is so popular, the only way to get around this is to verbally accept 2012 but try to damage its implementation by re-interpreting it or watering it down. I think what you are seeing is an alliance between these two factions. The first understand 2012, but are duped by friendships and loyalties. The second understand 2012 as well, but are duping the others by employing their friendships and loyalties. It is Clintonian triangulation writ small.

S. T. Karnick said...

Anonymous, your explanation makes great sense to me. Many thanks for submitting it.—STK

Tlaloc said...

"Tialoc is wrong. The university is run by the Board of Regents who developed 2012 after numerous meetings with faculty, department chairs, etc. Surely, some faculty will disagree. But once the Board says--"this is our vision"--the debate is over."

The debate doesn't seem to be over since the board appointed an interim president who obviously wasn't on board with the 2012 vision. Perhaps you are projecting your own desire for the program onto the board?



"To conspire to undermine the implementation of the vision, after it has been unanimously approved by the Board, is a violation of the procedures of the university's governance."

Conspire? Seems a little paranoid frankly.



"Faculty who do not agree may go elsewhere."

The ever popular love it or leave it argument. Good to know an old fashioned bit of thuggery never goes out of style. The Faculty you happen to disagree with should be free to express and work toward their vision of the University. Hopefuly you aren't so mired in anger that you reserve that to those you find tolerable.

But then again since you wish Underwood to go to hell based on a simple disagreement over the direction of a school maybe you are that vindictive.

John Huisman said...

Anonymous, I agree with Mr. Karnick that your explanation makes sense. Thanks. Unfortunately, it also does not bode well for a good outcome. Baylor's Board truly is wishy-washy on Baylor 2012.

Hunter Baker said...

I think the triangulation theory is good, but it also comes down to the inability of some Regents to handle conflict. At the first sign of resistance, many of them cut and run.

The other issue that cannot be overestimated is the importance of the battle for the Southern Baptist Convention and its connection to Baylor. Once opponents of 2012 were able to (falsely) link the current power-holders in the SBC to the 2012 plan, then the trouble really began.