The cat is out of the bag. Robert Sloan is likely leaving the chancellor’s office at Baylor to become the next president of Houston Baptist University. For those who have forgotten the story, Sloan resigned the presidency at Baylor after controversy over his rapid implementation of the Baylor 2012 vision. Debates raged at Baylor (and still do) over the desirability of integrating faith and learning. More prosaic matters were also involved, such as whether Baylor should build a $100 million science facility (which it did under Sloan’s direction).
Houston Baptist is much smaller than Baylor, but it has some advantages. First off HBU has a board that has seen exactly what Robert Sloan does with a university and wants his leadership. Second, Sloan gets to do his thing at a school in a major metropolitan area. That means a setting very congenial to recruiting students and faculty and holding conferences. It also means going to work in the midst of a very large and thriving evangelical community in Houston.
I’ve written positively about Sloan in the past and have disclosed my own previous working relationship with him as a part-time member of his university relations office at Baylor. Since his resignation I’ve had the opportunity to keep in touch with him so I know he’s a man of energy and determination. My guess is that he and HBU are going to hit this thing out of the park.
Billy Graham and Carl F.H. Henry harbored a dream of developing a truly great Christian university in the evangelical tradition for many years only to see it go unfulfilled. Robert Sloan is not a bad guy upon whom to pin those hopes.
UPDATE: Baylor has a statement on Sloan’s candidacy for the position at HBU.
“Baylor University’s reputation for excellence in Christian higher education has been built by faculty, staff, students and friends who have given of their time and talents for 161 years,” said Baylor President John M. Lilley. “Robert Sloan has made a major contribution to that history in many ways, but Baylor 2012, our 10-year vision, began during his presidency and may well be his greatest contribution. Its breadth and depth are such that it will serve as a guide for Baylor’s future. The Baylor family expresses our thanks to him and Sue, and offers our best wishes and prayers for their future.”