From the Editor

October 13, 2003

During the summer and into the early fall, Baylor University has been in the midst of a maelstrom of controversy. Not in recent history, not even during the bitter charter change in 1990, has this 158-year-old institution experienced a series of events as continuous and painful as those during these past months.
Almost daily, media reports appeared about a succession of occurrences, beginning in mid-June with the mysterious disappearance of transfer basketball player Patrick Dennehy. In the next weeks, the headlines would become more disturbing: Dennehy body found; teammate Carlton Dotson questioned in shooting death of former roommate; Dave Bliss and Tom Stanton resign amid allegations of NCAA infractions; improper student-athlete drug test reporting revealed; assistant basketball coach submits tape in which Bliss proposes a cover-up of his involvement in paying Dennehy's tuition. The litany of shocking news out of the athletic department continued for weeks.
Even as revelations about athletics at the University mounted, other controversies were brewing. They began July 18 with the Baylor Alumni Association's Family Dialogue, in which members of the self-appointed "loyal opposition" sat in a debate forum on a panel with Baylor administrators. In the weeks that followed, more headlines emerged: Three former regent chairs and five sitting regents call for Robert Sloan's dismissal; Faculty Senate submits motion of no confidence in President Sloan in a 26-6 vote; conflict of interest among Baylor regents questioned.
Pro- and anti-Sloan groups sprouted, news conferences were held, bumper stickers and buttons reading "I Believe in Baylor" were distributed, newspaper ads expounding issues from both sides appeared in state newspapers, student-led prayer groups were organized -- and everywhere a pall hung about the campus.
Even though we held this issue of Baylor Magazine past its regular production deadline, much is still unknown and undecided. The internal investigation of the athletics and basketball program is ongoing and we are told additional NCAA actions may be taken. Discord still exists among the University's 770-plus faculty and among some alumni and former regents. Much work needs to be done to ameliorate these issues, and they are priorities Dr. Sloan has pledged to address immediately. "I think clearly I haven't communicated as well as I should have and I'm looking forward to doing that this year," he said.
On Sept. 12, though, there seemed to be hope that the weeks of controversy might abate as the Board of Regents, in a strong vote of 31-4, reaffirmed Dr. Sloan's leadership and, by inference, the Baylor 2012 Vision. In what Regent chair Drayton McLane described as a "spirited, challenging" discussion, the board also appointed three committees of review to address the concerns that have been raised -- another important message that the board is responding conscientiously to the challenges of the recent months.
It has been Baylor's summer of discontent. There have been hurt feelings, pain and great sadness. On more than one occasion, Dr. Sloan has referred to this period as a very humbling one for him personally. Dr. Randall O'Brien, professor of religion, said in a rally Sept. 10 that, "Each one of us feels a heart-rending sense of loss -- a loss of community, a loss of innocence, a loss of wellness." 
Perhaps such a sense of loss is inevitable as individuals -- and institutions -- undertake bold, new challenges. If so, there is another side to that coin: what we gain. Baylor 2012 can catapult what has been a well-respected regional college into a unique niche of Christian and academic excellence among national institutions of higher education. How does one begin to measure the gains -- for all Baylor's constituents -- of such a transformation? 
Walter Brueggemann, the Hebrew Bible scholar, writes in his book, Praying the Psalms, that the life of faith is a journey with God characterized by three basic movements: being oriented, becoming disoriented and being surprisingly reoriented. Citing him, the editors of Companions in Christ add: "There are times when our certainties about life seem seriously undermined, if not completely shattered. There are other times when, through conscious effort or quite apart from it, we move from disorientation to a new constellation of meaning and wholeness."
Certainly at Baylor in recent months, we have felt disoriented. But we move forward steadily, by faith, awaiting a surprising reorientation.