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(RNS) Kenneth Starr, the independent counsel whose long-running probe led to the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton, has been named the new president of Baylor University, the world’s largest Baptist university.
Starr, who has been the dean of the law school at Pepperdine University since 2004, was chosen unanimously by Baylor’s board of regents on Friday (Feb. 12).
“His depth of experience and exceptional record as a university dean and legal scholar, his dedication to the highest ideals of the Christian faith, and his profound commitment to public service and visionary leadership make him the ideal person to lead Baylor at this remarkable time in the university’s history,” said R. Dary Stone, chair of the university’s regents.
Starr, a Texas native and former Church of Christ member, told the Baptist Standard that he expects to “readily, cheerfully and enthusiastically” join a Baptist church before he begins his post on June 1.
While Starr is known for his controversial investigations of Clinton’s sex scandal involving White House intern Monica Lewinsky, the Waco, Texas, university has faced controversy for its infighting. Starr succeeds John Lilley, who was fired as president in 2008, a decision the school said then was “necessary in order to unite Baylor’s many constituencies.”
Rice University sociologist Michael Lindsay said Starr’s selection as a “non-Baptist” could be a gamble, but he expects Starr will succeed nevertheless.
“Time will tell if he is the figure that can unite Baylor’s fractured constituencies,” said Lindsay, a Baylor alumnus.
“Both Baylor and Ken Starr have weathered significant public storms in recent decades, and they both will try to put that into the past,” he said. “I think sunnier days are ahead.”

— Adelle M. Banks
Copyright 2010 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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