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This article indicates that the firing of David Lyle Jeffrey took some members of Baylor’s Board of Regents by surprise.

I think there were regents who were very supportive for Dr. Jeffrey and the job he did as president," [Board of Regents Chairman Will] Davis said. "It’s hard to see this as a healing event."

Davis said the university charter gives Underwood the power to hire and fire, though he said it should be done with consultation of regents.


Update: Via Russell Moore, here’s former Baylor prof Bill Dembski on "housecleaning at Baylor." For more on this, go here and here.

Discussions - 3 Comments

I’m sorry, but this issue confuses me (and I haven’t kept up on these Baylor-related threads). In a nutshell, what are the issues involved? Why is this firing so lamentable?

Prof. Crenshaw,

I wish there were a brief answer to your question. The big issue is whether Baylor 2012, a plan to make the university into a distinguished research institution without losing its Christian foundation, will be maintained in anything like its present form. Sloan and Jeffrey were the intellectual forces behind that plan, which involved (among other things) more attention to faculty efforts to integrate faith and learning (a la Calvin and Wheaton), higher research expectations of faculty, and higher tuition. Some of the most obvious fruits of the plan have been the hiring of Byron Johnson in sociology, Thomas Hibbs to head the Honors College, Ralph C. Wood in English, and Mary Nichols to establish a Ph.D. program in political science, as well as (if I’m remembering correctly) a big new science building.

The resistance has come from folks who regard Jeffrey as a northern evangelical carpetbagger (a representative of the Christianity Today crowd, as it’s been frequently put), who fear the loss of Baylor’s student-friendly atmosphere, and who worry that this attempt to integrate faith and learning (in part, through the hiring process) will replace Baptist independence with some sort of creedalism. Others speak, mistakenly, about the imposition of conservative fundamentalism on Baylor, which is far from the truth (Hibbs and Nichols, for example, are Catholics), but resonates with the politics of state Baptist conventions and their relationship with the colleges and universities they support. (See, for example, this story.)

If you want to get your hands on books that do a decent job canvassing the issues, I’d recommend Robert Benne’s Quality with Soul, which treats Baylor as one of several cases, and a collection of faculty essays entitled The Baptist and Christian Character of Baylor.

Professor Knippenberg:

Thanks, that’s the gist I was getting from the entries, but I wasn’t sure. Like many, I’m ambivalent about such university-wide projects, but perhaps we should welcome diversity between universities. At best I suppose this project at Baylor might blaze a trail for others to follow, and at worse they would scare away faculty and students.

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