Baylor University’s board of regents did not vote on Robert Sloan’s status as president and unanimously declined a request by the faculty senate to conduct a faculty referendum on Sloan’s leadership, according to a press release following Friday’s regents meeting.
Board chairman Will Davis said in a press conference, later web cast on BaylorTV.com, that a motion was made and seconded requesting Sloan’s resignation, but it was superseded by a parliamentary recommendation to “postpone indefinitely,” which the regents voted on and approved.
Davis declined to disclose the outcome of the vote or who made the motions. “This whole business was in executive session,” he said. “It is confidential among the regents. I will give these facts to you, but I will not disclose the vote.”
Twenty-two former Baylor trustees signed a petition Tuesday calling on the board to replace Sloan, saying his leadership has created “divisiveness and distrust” in the Baylor community.
Sloan survived a reported regent’s vote in May by only one vote, after the board voted 31-4 to keep him as president the previous fall. Regents also declined to vote on Sloan’s leadership at their last meeting, despite predictions that he would be fired.
The faculty senate, a representative body that has twice voted no-confidence in Sloan, had requested that a poll be conducted of the entire 770-member faculty to gauge support for Sloan’s leadership.
But Davis told reporters that he believed it would be inappropriate to turn the question of the university’s president into a “popularity contest” among faculty.
Critics of Sloan, who has met opposition throughout his nine-year presidency, blame him for declining enrollment and running up debt for construction projects. They also question his leadership style, which has divided faculty and alumni, and whether his goal of injecting more religion into the classroom threatens academic freedom.
Defenders say Sloan is leading Baylor in the right direction and that his opponents are simply resistant to change.
“There’s no reason for Baylor not to become a tremendous success, if we can just get together on the leadership issue,” said Davis, a Sloan supporter elected as chairman this summer, reportedly despite a nominating committee’s recommendation to grant another term to the former chairman, Houston Astros owner Drayton McClane.
Davis said the parliamentary maneuver to sidestep a vote on Sloan’s leadership settles the issue for now but doesn’t prevent it from coming up again in the future.Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.