Video by Morgan Kilgo | Broadcast Reporter, Story by Rylee Seavers | Staff Writer
Former Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr released a new book detailing his time as president of Baylor. Starr spoke on religious freedom at a McLennan County Republican Women’s meeting on Tuesday. The meeting was followed by a book signing.
Starr said he loved telling the Baylor story as president and chancellor, and writing “Bear Country: The Baylor Story” was a way for him to continue doing that. The book was also an opportunity for him to address the scandal that led to his dismissal as president and say how much he loves Baylor, Starr said.
“The circumstances changed, but my affection and love for Baylor did not change at all,” Starr said. “A university consists really of its faculty and its students. The rest of us are hired help. We’re just there to support what really goes on between faculty members and their students.”
Since leaving Baylor, Starr said he has been “flourishing in freedom,” volunteering with Waco ISD and local community colleges, spending time with his grandchildren and working on issues that are important to him, such as religious liberty.
“It’s really important that we all be aware of how our religious freedom – our religious liberty – seems to be eroding in this country,” said Viki Kendig, president of the McLennan County Republican Women. “We wanted Judge Starr to speak to us and educate us on what we need to do, what our marching orders are for getting rid of the degradation of religious freedom.”
It has also been reported that Starr is being considered for Ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom, within the U.S. Department of State. The position would put him at the head of the Office of International Religious Freedom, which monitors religious persecution and discrimination worldwide, according to the State Department website.
“I would be honored if I were invited by the president and secretary of state to take on that role, but I don’t know what will happen,” Starr said.
“Bear Country” also addresses Starr’s concerns for higher education in the United States, such as access. Starr said higher education in the United States has traditionally been accessible, but cost and student debt are becoming a problem.
“We want to continue, as a country and as an industry, to make sure that higher education is accessible [and] affordable,” Starr said. “I also think it’s very important, for Baylor in particular, to lift high the mantle of Christian education and the unique importance of a faith-based higher education.”
In “Bear Country,” Starr also shares his account of the events leading up to his dismissal as president. Starr wrote that he had decided on three occasions prior to his departure from Baylor that he should resign voluntarily but did not. He said he does not regret his decision to stay with Baylor in those instances because he enjoyed serving the Baylor family. Starr also said he wished he could have continued his service to Baylor, but he accepted and respected the Board of Regents’ decision.
The chapter titled “Farewell” was meant to serve as a lesson for future presidents and board members, Starr said.
To the soon-to-be graduates of 2017, Starr said, in the spirit of Drayton McLane, to dream big and not limit themselves.
“Be bold and be courageous… March through [the] door that opens for you, and if the door seems closed, either keep knocking or go look for another door. But always have that optimistic attitude that you will be able, by God’s grace, to accomplish great things,” Starr said.
To all Baylor students, Starr said Baylor is a great place to discover themselves and their calling and develop lifelong friendships.
“Keep loving Baylor and keep spreading the word that Baylor is a wonderful place and that it’s a safe place,” Starr said.