Three of the largest Baptist universities in the U.S. have each chosen a different strategy in selecting the president who will shape the school’s future. Analysts wonder which model will emerge as the new face of Christian higher learning in southern states where the Southern Baptist Convention is influential.
Baylor University’s election of John Lilley, 66, as president comes after a time of division among alumni, faculty and administrators over academic freedom and the nature of Christian education. Lilley’s status as an “outsider” from the University of Nevada could help ease the strife.
Mercer University, recently cut loose by the Georgia Baptist Convention, elected a champion of academic freedom, Baylor’s recent interim chief, Bill Underwood, as president—raising a flag for the Christian liberal arts tradition.