WACO (February 16, 2010)—Baylor regents and members of the school’s presidential search and advisory committees praised president designate Kenneth Starr Tuesday for his intellect, his academic credentials, his administrative skill and his Christian faith as the university introduced the Pepperdine Law School dean as the university’s 14th president.
”This is a great day for Baylor,” said Board of Regents Chairman Dary Stone, a phrase echoed by several other speakers who lent their endorsement to the former Whitewater special prosecutor.
Citing the university’s motto, “Pro Ecclesia, Pro Texana” or “For Church, For Texas,” Starr, who will officially start the job on June 1, pledged to build on the foundation left by his 13 predecessors.
“Baylor has a magical name,” Starr said.
“I pledge to you my energy and effort, modest though they may be, in carrying the Baylor message, carrying the mission, those before us framed.”
He said he supports the concept of shared governance with the faculty and said he views his role as that of an encourager.
“All voices are welcome to the community,” he said.
“We ask only that the voices treat one another with dignity and respect and that we have a conservation and not a shouting match.”
Starr will return to Malibu, Calif. to complete the spring semester as dean of the Pepperdine Law School, where officials say he will be missed.
"Ken has had a tremendous impact on our students, the law school, and the Pepperdine community at large,” said Pepperdine President Andrew K. Benton.
“His leadership, his love of scholarship, and his devotion to our students helped raise the national stature of our school and we will benefit from the good he accomplished here for many years to come,” Benton said.
Since 2004, Starr has served as the Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean and Professor of Law at Pepperdine University, and is of counsel to the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis LLP, at which he was a partner from 1993 to 2004.
He served as Solicitor General of the United States from 1989 to 1993 and took over the Whitewater probe in August 1994.
That investigation eventually led to the impeachment of then President Bill Clinton.
Starr holds degrees from George Washington University and Brown University and earned a law degree from Duke University in 1973.
He did not attend Baylor.
Starr, 63, is a fifth-generation Texan who was born in Vernon and grew up in San Antonio, the son of a Church of Christ minister.
Former President George H. W. Bush was among those who praised Baylor’s choice of Starr.
“Both Baylor University, and Dean Starr, have chosen wisely, and Barbara joins me in wishing the Baylor University Family every success moving forward,” he said.
Republican congressional candidate Rob Curnock of Waco, a 1991 Baylor graduate, also praised Starr’s selection.
“Judge Starr is well respected as an honest prosecutor, a principled scholar of the law, and a serious academic leader. He will bring tremendous presence to Baylor,” he said.
The university had been searching for a president since the Board of Regents forced former President John Lilley out in mid-2008 after naming him to succeed former President Dr. Robert Sloan on Nov. 4, 2005.
Truett Seminary Dean David Garland was appointed interim president on August 20, 2008 and officials praised him today for his leadership during the search for a permanent president.
Lilley was inaugurated as the university’s 13th president in April 2006, almost exactly 45 years after he earned the first of his three degrees from the university.
He took over from acting president William Underwood on Jan. 1, 2006.
Underwood meanwhile moved to Macon, Ga. where he is now president of Mercer University.
Underwood was considered the frontrunner in the search for a replacement for Sloan, but withdrew his name from consideration.
Lilley came to Waco from the University of Nevada Reno where, he had had served as president since July 2001.
The hope then was that his arrival at Baylor would signal the start of a calmer period after a decade of increasing turmoil on and off campus during Sloan’s tenure.
Saying he had become a lightning rod for controversy, Sloan and university regents agreed in January 2005 that Sloan would step down to become chancellor.
The announcement was the last chapter in a festering controversy that pitted faculty against faculty and graduate against graduate in a debate over everything from hiring practices to indebtedness and tuition rates.
Sloan was the founding dean of Truett Theological Seminary from 1993 to 1995.
Regents named him the school's 12th president in February 1995.
Baylor University Presidents
1846-1851: Henry Lee Graves
Attended University of North Carolina 1831-1835, Hamilton Literary and Theological Institute in New York 1840-1842.
1851-1861: Rufus C. Burleson
Entered Nashville University in 1840 to prepare for Baptist ministry, but forced to withdraw because of ill health. After recovering, he entered Western Baptist Theological Seminary in Covington, Ky. in 1846 and received his diploma in 1847.
1861-1863: George Washington Baines
Entered the University of Alabama, but was forced with withdraw during his senior year in 1836 because of poor health.
1864-1885: William Carey Crane
Attended Mount Pleasant Classical Institute in Amherst, Mass. and Virginia Baptist Seminary, which is now Richmond College. Moved to New York in 1833 to attend Hamilton Literary and Theological Institute and Madison University, which is now Colgate University. In 1834 he entered Columbian College, which is now George Washington University, from which he received an A.B. degree in 1836 and an A.M. in 1839.
1885-1886: Reddin Andrews
Graduated from Baylor as valedictorian in 1871, then completed a two-year course of study at Greenville Seminary in South Carolina.
1886-1897: Rufus C. Burleson, Second Term (considered second president despite second term)
1899-1902: Oscar Henry Cooper
Attended Marshall University 1865-1866, received BA from Yale.
1902-1931: Samuel Palmer Brooks
Entered the High School Department of Baylor University, graduated with an A. B. in 1893. Received second A. B. from Yale in 1894 and completed an M.A. degree at Yale in 1902.
1932-1947: Pat Morris Neff
Earned A. B. Degree from Baylor in 1894, LL.B. degree from the University of Texas in1897. Received an A. M. degree from Baylor in 1898.
1948-1961: William R. White
Enrolled in Baylor in 1913, but was forced to leave because of ill health. Earned a B. A. from Howard Payne in 1917. Enrolled at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from which he earned a Th.M. in 1922 and a Th.D. in 1924.
1961-1981: Abner Vernon McCall
Enrolled at Baylor in 1933 and received his law degree in 1938.
1981-1995: Herbert H. Reynolds
Earned Bachelor of Science degree from Trinity University in 1952, Ph.D. in experimental and clinical psychology from Baylor in 1961.
1995-2005: Robert B. Sloan
Enrolled at Baylor in 1967, graduated ahead of his class cum laude in 1970. Earned a master of divinity degree cum laude in 1973 from Princeton Theological Seminary. Earned Doktor der Theologie degree insigni cum laude from the University of Basel, Switzerland, in 1978.
2006-2008: John M. Lilley
Earned three degrees from Baylor in the 1960s and then earned his doctorate from the University of Southern California in 1971.