WACO, Texas -- Baylor's embattled president announced Friday
that he will step down after a tumultuous term in which he clashed with professors and suffered fallout from a
scandal in the basketball program.
Robert B. Sloan Jr. will become the school's chancellor after
leaving the presidency post at the end of May. The chancellor
position has no administrative responsibilities.
In his announcement, Sloan acknowledged he had become a
"lightning rod" for controversy in his decade in charge of the
world's largest Baptist university.
Sloan has been criticized for being unaware of major NCAA violations in the men's basketball program, which were uncovered
after a player, Patrick Dennehy, was killed in June 2003. The
scandal brought down both basketball coach Dave Bliss and athletic
director Tom Stanton.
In addition, some faculty leaders claim Sloan has threatened the university's academic reputation by stressing religious beliefs over
qualifications when hiring new professors, and by requiring the
inclusion of religious doctrine in teaching. He also was blamed for
rising tuition costs and faced harsh criticism over the price of an
ambitious building project launched in 2002.
"Though I have worked hard to cultivate mutual understanding
with those who disagree with various decisions or even my
management style, the reality is that my role as president has become a distraction of the main goal of fulfilling the vision" for the future, Sloan said.
Will D. Davis, the chairman of the board that oversees the
school, said Friday that Baylor now can begin healing and that the
divisiveness "should evaporate." Davis also praised Sloan, saying
he led the school through major changes to improve its academic and
athletic standards and to strengthen its Christian mission.
The announcement comes a month after the faculty overwhelmingly voted to oust Sloan, although the school's regents have the sole authority to hire and fire the president.
Eighty-five percent of votes went against retaining Sloan, who
earns $410,000 a year. About 60 percent of eligible faculty members
The school's faculty senate, with about three dozen members,
has held two similar no-confidence votes on Sloan since September 2003.
As chancellor, Sloan will focus on fund raising and related
activities and report to the new president.
The regents are expected to approve the change at their meeting
in February and will name an interim president in April.
A 1970 Baylor graduate, Sloan became religion professor at the
school in 1983.