Baylor’s board of regents elected Starr unanimously on Feb. 12, upon the unanimous recommendation of both a 14-member search committee and a 10-member advisory committee for the presidential search, according to a Baylor news release.
The world’s largest Baptist institution of higher learning will be led by the man whose investigation of a 1980s Arkansas real-estate deal gone bad nearly brought down the nation’s last Baptist president in 1998, with Congress’ failed attempt to remove President Bill Clinton from office.
Starr will succeed John Lilley, who was fired for failing to “bring the Baylor family together” in July 2008. Lilley’s two-year tenure followed the 10-year presidency of Robert Sloan, which was marked by discord over the university’s future, specifically Baylor 2012, a decade-long strategy plan. David Garland, dean of Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary, has been interim president since August 2008.
Starr, a Texas native with a background in the Churches of Christ, has been dean of Pepperdine’s law school in Malibu, Calif., since 2004. He is a former federal judge and solicitor general of the United States, and he remains an attorney with the prominent Washington-based law firm Kirkland & Ellis. He is a longtime member of McLean Bible Church in McLean, Va., a conservative, non-denominational evangelical congregation in the Washington suburbs.
From 1994 to 1999, he was independent counsel for five investigations, including the death of White House counsel Vince Foster, the Whitewater real-estate dealings of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Bill Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
His investigation resulted in the Starr Report, which asserted Clinton lied about his affair with Lewinsky in a sworn deposition. That allegation led to Clinton’s impeachment.
Starr was born in Vernon, Texas, in 1946 and raised in San Antonio. His father was a Churches of Christ minister, and Pepperdine is affiliated with the Churches of Christ.
He is a graduate of George Washington University, Brown University and Duke University Law School.
Early in his career, Starr clerked for Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge David Dyer and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger.
He is the author of more than 25 publications, including First Among Equals: The Supreme Court in American Life.
According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, Starr has said he will join a Baptist church upon moving to Waco.