On Point with President Lilley

December 15, 2005

New President John M. Lilley discusses some of the key issues before Baylor:
Scholarship and teaching: "The balance of teaching and scholarship is an everyday challenge for all faculty, and there's no permanent solution to that challenge. It's about daily choices, and those are sometimes tough."
Administrative process: "I'm a great believer in strategic planning. No president can know in detail what a university ought to do discipline by discipline and in areas such as academic support and student life."
"Strategic planning is fundamentally about gathering the very best ideas of faculty, staff, students and friends that respond to the environment in which an institution operates. Once you have those plans, fully vetted by lots of good people, they drive the allocation and reallocation of budget and the allocation and reallocation of space."
"It is a very collaborative and interactive process."

Leadership and management: "Leadership is doing the right things; management is doing things right. There's a big difference, but they're both important."
He refers to a concept he calls "cheerful dissatisfaction" -- a combination of gratitude for the past and present on the one hand and continual striving on the other. "There is no final answer to being the best. Being the best in 1906 was one answer; being the best in 2006 is a different answer, although our values are timeless."
Fundraising: "Some say the president is the chief development officer, but I've never seen myself as that. I'm a key part of the development effort, and, fortunately, I have a lot of experience in that area. Benefactors are interesting people. They are people who, in my life experience, are very disciplined, have big hearts, want to invest, and want to leave legacies. It's an honor to work with people who want to help Baylor."
Texas Baptists: One of the first promises Lilley made to the regents was that he wanted to visit all of them in their Baptist churches. After he and his wife, Gerrie, joined First Baptist Church, Waco, Nov. 6, Lilley said he told members there he would often be absent on Sundays, but that he wouldn't be playing hooky.
"I need to re-establish that contact with Texas Baptists. Baylor is a creation of Texas Baptists. When you see 'Pro ecclesia, Pro Texana,' those two come together nicely. I know Baylor is special to Texas Baptists, something I've known for a long time, and Baylor must continue to be special to Texas Baptists."
His faith: Lilley says he grew up in a wonderful faith setting. The family's financial circumstances were very humble, he says. "We were poor but never poor in spirit. That came out of our commitment to Christ, our understanding of hope and salvation."
He accepted Christ at age 6. "That's very early, but my father led me to my faith, and it was authentic. It has grown and developed over the years, particularly at Baylor, and my faith has made the high points even higher ... and in the low points, I knew that I was not alone. What a blessing to have started that journey with your parents."
His Baylor homecoming: "The question is, for all of us who are privileged to work here, 'What do we want our legacy to be?' All of us get a turn, and all of us hope our legacies will be based on gratitude for the past but with big hopes and dreams that, working together, get transformed into reality." 
"I couldn't have written it. No one could have planned it. Baylor so totally transformed my life and launched me on a life's journey that I had not imagined. Now to be the president of the institution for which I feel such a profound sense of gratitude, it is awesome and humbling. Gerrie and I want to do our very best for Baylor."