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Editorial: Lilley, Lariat striving for effectiveness

Oct. 2, 2007

The editorial board met Thursday with President John Lilley, his chief of staff Karla Leeper and vice president of media relations John Barry. This meeting came on the heels of our editorial, "Lilley's two cents are missing," which called for administrative transparency, more direct access to the president and direct responses to important, universitywide issues.

We received positive feedback from students, faculty and alumni in support of our editorial, and feedback of any kind, much less only positive, is rare.

We thanked Lilley at the meeting for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with us, and he wanted to let the Baylor community know he takes time to meet with them, too.

Lilley drops in and visits with Student Senate the first meeting of every month, and Senate sessions are open to the entire Baylor student body. The Baylor Lariat always sends a reporter to these meetings, and we encourage students to attend as well. The next time Lilley is scheduled to meet with Student Senate, we will make every effort to let students know.

Lilley also meets with Faculty Senate once a month. At its last meeting, Faculty Senate voted overwhelmingly to continue denying the Lariat access to its meetings, but we hope faculty at meetings in the future take advantage of their direct access to the president.

Lilley explained that he is in charge of the university on a general level -- not everything going on at Baylor is handled directly by him, and we understand that. Barry said sometimes the person with the most knowledge on an issue is not Lilley, and therefore other administrators or professors may be "the best people to comment on a variety of issues."

While we respect Lilley and the media relations department's views on the matter, we must agree to disagree on this point. We still maintain that important university controversies that reach national prominence deserve a direct response from the office of the president, even when he is not personally responsible for the actions behind them. (We wholeheartedly welcome opinions to the contrary, which can be sent to

President Bush comments on the failures of appointees whose choices are unconnected with his own, even if only to express his support of those people.

We agree that the truth from a lower step of the command chain is still the truth, but we think we are not alone in finding it a little unsatisfactory. We'd even be happy with direct statements claiming complete noninvolvement with an issue.

We realize this is something about Baylor's current administration that may not change. Barry assured us that those around the president know his thoughts quite well, and the media relations department will continue to release statements on issues.

In the case of Dr. Robert Marks, we were assured by Barry that allegations that Lilley was somehow involved in shutting down the Web site are "categorically false."

Barry and Lilley encouraged us to look to progress and advances in Baylor 2012 for story ideas. While we have no problem covering progress -- the Lariat ran a four-page special section in the spring evaluating the status of the imperatives -- we hope that in an effort to look toward the future and be positive about the university's direction, issues taking place in the present are not overlooked.

Lilley emphasized his desire to make all areas of Baylor more effective, and our goals in this coincide.

Baylor's ability to communicate effectively to its alumni, faculty and students is of the utmost importance, and the Lariat wants that communication to be as thorough and clear as possible.

In this spirit, we proposed a student Q&A with the president, an idea that was well-received. But we would like to hear from students how they feel about such an idea. We're more than willing to organize and sponsor such an event, but we want to know if you, our readers, will be there.

We also want to know how faculty and staff feel about this. Send us e-mails to and let us know what questions you might have -- we won't print your letters, but the members of the editorial board will ask your questions anonymously if students don't already address the issue.

At our meeting Thursday, Lilley said "we all get a turn."

"You're having your turn with the Lariat and I'm having my turn as president," he said. "People leave and somebody else has a turn. But we have to absolutely leave it better than we found it. Shame on all of us if we don't."

We couldn't agree with Lilley more. The Lariat is working in the interest of the Baylor community and striving to make communication within this university better.

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