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Baylor Intorduces Kenneth Starr As Incoming University President

Feb. 17, 2010

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To a standing ovation, Kenneth Starr introduced himself to the Baylor family yesterday, not as the independent counsel whose work led to the impeachment of a president, but as an academic leader eager to further acquaint himself with the community he's been tapped to helm. In his address, he touched on the responsibility that comes with the Baylor name.

The decision to name the dean of the School of law at Pepperdine as president of Baylor is controversial in some circles, as his name is still in many ways synonymous with a scandalous time and partisan divide. In a speech that touched little on his past roles and accomplishment, and was not about specific visions for the future, Starr did nonetheless touch on areas that some people questioned upon hearing of his hiring. The first was the idea of academic freedom, and the assurance that differing ideologies and viewpoints will be welcome and encouraged.

And in a university that has previously seen contentious relations between faculty and the president's office, Judge Starr laid out his interpretation of his relationship with the faculty, and his idea of shared governance with them.

Starr will take over for interim president David Garland, who has served since John Lilley was dismissed by the board of regents in the summer of 2008. Dr. Garland, who also received a standing ovation for his service, talked about what Starr brings to the office of president.

Garland also spoke glowingly of the experience Starr brings from both the academic and public sectors to the university.

That's a claim that Dary Stone, chairman of the board of regents at Baylor, seconded.

Starr, who will take over on the first of June, spoke to the media after his address, which was attended by hundreds at the Bill Daniel Student Center. He touched on a number of issues he will be tackling when he arrives.

Judge Starr, who joked that he is one of the few people on the west coast who looks forward trading in the shores of Malibu for the streets of Waco, also said he is looking forward to continue to strengthen the academy's relationship with the greater community.

It is a homecoming for the native Texan, who moved to Washington decades ago and served as a clerk under Supreme Court justice Warren Berger before eventually becoming Solicitor General and then special prosecutor in the Whitewater affair. He was greeted yesterday with both excitement and some consternation. A small group of students protested outside, with counter-protestors welcoming the judge to the university. For KWBU news, I'm Derek Smith.

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