On his first day as interim president at Baylor University, William Underwood fired the Texas Baptist school's highly visible symbol of Vision 2012: provost David Jeffrey.
Jeffrey recruited many Christian faculty as part of Vision 2012, two goals of which are a deeper integration of Christian faith and scholarship, and that Baylor become a top-tier research university. After Jeffrey refused to resign, Underwood on June 1 ended his role as provost. The move further polarized the campus, already divided over Vision 2012 and the actions of Robert Sloan, the previous president who is now chancellor.
The next day at an all-campus event, Randall O'Brien, the incoming interim provost, observed, "We're an army shooting at each other. When will this madness end?" Underwood, in emphasizing the "proper" integration of faith and learning, said at the meeting, "We largely agree that the Christian character of this university is its greatest asset."
Recently, other pro-Sloan officials have stepped down, including three vice presidents: Eileen Hulme (student life), Marilyn Crone (enrollment), and Rick Creel (facilities).
Rodney Stark, the prominent sociologist who joined Baylor's faculty in 2004, told CT, "We've made incredible progress. [But] it's hanging in the balance right now."
The prospect of Underwood remaining as president has many pro-Sloan faculty looking elsewhere for jobs. Theology and literature professor Ralph Wood wrote in The Dallas Morning News, "Why should they want to remain at a university whose president has dismissed the man who embodied the Christian scholarly excellence that brought them to Baylor?"
"Make no mistake," Wood continued. "We will soon see a talent exodus from Baylor's faculty unless real wholeness can ...