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La. College names interim president, affirms book policy

PINEVILLE, La. (BP)–Louisiana College’s board of trustees has chosen an interim president to fill the vacancy when President Rory Lee takes another position in Mississippi. The board has also reiterated its stance on textbook screening by passing a resolution in support of a book-screening policy that took effect in December.

John “Bud” Traylor, a current Louisiana College trustee and retired pastor of First Baptist Church in Monroe, La., was named interim president at the board’s April 19 meeting.

Traylor is a graduate of Louisiana Tech University and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. The Town Talk, a newspaper in Alexandria, reported that when asked whether he was a conservative Baptist, Traylor responded, “Oh, yes. Well, I’m a Bible-believing preacher. Let’s put it that way.”

Traylor received the majority of the votes in executive session and was later unanimously approved. Upon Taylor’s election, trustee Leon Hyatt asked Traylor to clarify whether he would like to see Louisiana College become a Bible college, according to The Town Talk.

The interim president’s response was no, and he added he wants the school to remain a liberal arts college with a Christian perspective.

“I think he’ll do a good job. He is a very gracious man,” Joe Nesom, chairman of the board of trustees, told Baptist Press. “He’s a scholarly man, and I think that he’ll fit in very well there on the campus during the time that he’s there.”

Lee, president of the college for the past seven years, announced his resignation March 15, effective at the end of the academic year, to become executive director of the Mississippi Baptist Children’s Village, the children’s home affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention.

Traylor, who will take over duties as president May 17, voted in favor of the board’s resolution affirming a book-screening policy, which reiterates a trustee decision last November requiring all materials used at the school to be approved by department coordinators or chairs as well as the vice president of academic affairs. The policy took effect Dec. 2.

The decision followed complaints from a student and at least one observer regarding the inclusion of “The Road Less Traveled” by Scott Peck and “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest Gaines in a college values class in previous semesters. Lee ordered the removal of the books from the college bookstore. Upon a review of college policy, trustees amended the guidelines for choosing such materials.

Student and alumni protestors have voiced discontent over the removal of the books and the policy to establish accountability.

Noting that the faculty has been given freedom to choose class materials under the supervision of department coordinators and the vice president of academic affairs, the resolution calls for faculty “to give earnest attention and due submission” to “The Identity and Mission of Louisiana College, Beliefs and Values,” which says the college “expects and supports the pursuit of the highest level of Christian values in the lives of faculty, staff, administration, trustees and students.”

The resolution further stated that choices must be made in harmony with the school’s faith statement, which affirms the authority of Scripture, establishes a stance against all forms of sexual immorality, including homosexuality, and recognizes God’s plan for marriage.

“Be it further resolved,” the document said, “that we earnestly request that choices be made with due regard to the fact that Louisiana College was founded by the Louisiana Baptist Convention, is owned by it, is governed by trustees elected by the Louisiana Baptist Convention and, therefore, is morally obligated to follow principles set forth by that convention.”

The resolution concluded with a statement making clear that the trustees in no way intend to establish any new policies or policy regarding classroom material selection but simply to call attention to policies and responsibilities already in place.

“This is to better inform people as to why we’ve taken the steps we have,” trustee Tim Johnson said as he presented the resolution, according to The Town Talk. “This will carry that other resolution [made in November] a little farther to explain where we got the authority to make the decisions we made.”

Current enrollment at Louisiana College is just over 1,000 students.

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  • Erin Curry