Officials at Baylor University say Kenneth Starr is "still president," in spite of reports released Tuesday that the Board of Regents had voted to fire him over his handling of campus sexual assault cases.
The news was first reported Tuesday morning by Chip Brown at Hornsdigest.com and quickly spread to other media outlets. Brown cited multiple unnamed sources who were "close to" Starr or the board. But as of Thursday morning, the reports remained unconfirmed and Starr's future at the university remained unclear.
Since 2013, several students have said that they reported rapes on campus and received little support from Baylor administrators. In at least two of these cases, the accused students were football players who were later found guilty of rape in a criminal court.
A Dallas Morning News report published earlier in May criticized Starr for prioritizing winning football games over cracking down on campus sexual violence. According to the HornsDigest.com article, Baylor's board also thinks Starr is more responsible than athletic leaders for the situation.
University leaders say they have committed $5 million to improve the campus climate, for example, by hiring more staff for the Title IX office.
"Sexual assault education and prevention are vitally important to our university," Starr wrote in a statement earlier in May.
Starr is "still president today"
The university emailed a statement to media outlets Tuesday afternoon saying that it will not respond to "rumors, speculation or reports based on unnamed sources," but saying that it expects to make another announcement by June 3. Late Tuesday, a member of Starr's staff told reporters that Starr is "still president today."
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Starr himself echoed the comment Wednesday evening, saying that he "is still president at the university" and he is "working hard every day here."
As of Thursday morning, more than 1,700 people have signed a petition to keep Starr in the roles of president and chancellor (Boren, Washington Post, 5/24; Kelderman, Chronicle of Higher Education, 5/24; Brown, Hornsdigest.com; New, Inside Higher Ed, 5/25).
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