Former UNR president fired from Baylor University

GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) - The Baylor University board of regents fired President John M. Lilley on Thursday, saying he was unable to unite the school's students, faculty and administrators.

Board Chairman Howard K. Batson repeatedly declined to discuss specific shortcomings, referring instead to the board's lack of
"confidence in John's ability to unite various Baylor constituencies."

Lilley is former president of the University of Nevada, Reno.

In 2005, UNR's Faculty Senate issued a report that described the climate on campus under Lilley as "one of fear, intimidation and retaliation."

Lilley left UNR after four years to take the helm at Baylor, his alma mater, in January 2006.

Thursday's firing came during the regents' annual summer retreat, held this year in suburban Dallas-Fort Worth. Lilley had been president since November 2005.

"Perhaps progress wasn't as swift as far as some of us would hope as far as bringing the Baylor family together," Batson said on a conference call. "We need a new president who will listen to all the divergent voices in the Baylor family."

As recently as May, the senate faculty at the world's largest Baptist university passed a resolution critical of Lilley, focusing mainly on concerns that professors don't have input on decisions to grant tenure.

Lilley did not immediately return messages left at his office.

Board members had offered to let Lilley complete his five-year contract and begin their search for a new president in January. But Lilley rejected that offer, Batson said.

The board will offer Lilley a buyout that is "fair and appropriate," Batson said.

The firing comes despite what Batson acknowledged was Baylor's string of successes under Lilley. The Waco school, located about 90
miles south of Dallas, has its largest endowment in school history, its highest rating in an influential magazine ranking of colleges, its highest seminary enrollment and its second-largest student body.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)