Baylor Names Ken Starr as Fourteenth PresidentFeb. 15, 2010
Best known as the special prosecutor whose investigation led to the impeachment of President Clinton, Starr has spent the last five years serving as dean of the School of Law at Pepperdine University, a Christian college in Malibu, California. He brings a polarizing name to a university that has seen its share of polarization following the tumultuous tenures of the prior two presidents, Robert Sloan and John Lilley. But those who worked with him at Pepperdine have a great deal of praise for his leadership. Timothy Perrin served as vice dean under Starr.
Perrin says that Starr's national name has improved the profile of the law school, drawing supreme court justices to the campus, and leading to a laundry list of accomplishments.
But while he's burnished his academic credentials over the last five years at the helm of the law school, he will, too many, forever be the special prosecutor who introduced the tawdry details of the president's sexual practices in 1997, when his name was constantly in the news.
He became a polarizing figure in a controversial and highly-questioned investigation, eventually leading to the impeachment of Bill Clinton.
Mark Osler was one who questioned many of Starr's methods. But the Baylor law professor has come to know Starr, meeting with him individually on multiple occasions, and admires his leadership.
Osler says that Pepperdine faced the same questions that Baylor will now hear in hiring Starr, including how much conservative ideology Starr would bring to the university. Starr, who endorses the hiring, said he believes Starr's background will not hinder his fairness. He knows of the hirings Starr made at Pepperdine, and praised their diversity. According to Osler, Starr knows what his name brings to many, and is determined to change opinions.
In addition to the afore-mentioned roles, Starr served as a law clerk under Supreme Court justice Warren Burger and was the Solicitor General of the United States from 1989 to 1993. It's somewhat of a homecoming for the native Texan, who will be the first non-Baptist president of the university, as Starr has previously been a member of the Church of Christ. As president of Baylor, he will automatically serve on the board of KWBU. The introduction to the Baylor community takes place at 3 p.m. Tuesday, and we'll have coverage on All Things Considered and Wednesday on Morning Edition. For KWBU news, I'm Derek Smith.