Three of the largest Baptist universities in the U.S. have each chosen a different strategy in selecting the president who will shape the schoolâ€™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 Universityâ€™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. Lilleyâ€™s status as an â€śoutsiderâ€ť 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, Baylorâ€™s recent interim chief, Bill Underwood, as presidentâ€”raising a flag for the Christian liberal arts tradition.