Ken Starr, Former Whitewater Investigator and Chairman of Baylor, Dies of Illness | Education


Kenneth Winston Starr, a former US solicitor general who became the national face of the 1990s Whitewater Inquiry into the Clinton family years before becoming president of Baylor University, died on Tuesday. He was 76 years old.

Starr, who served as Baylor’s chairman from 2010 to 2016 and continued to call Waco home, was hospitalized for months in Houston, family and friends said.

“My beloved, brilliant, kind and loving husband went to join his Savior after 17 weeks in the surgical intensive care unit at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston due to complications from surgery,” his wife wrote. , Alice Starr, in a text to friends and supporters. “Ken was so brave, he never complained and he continually expressed his gratitude to all of his nurses and doctors for their care.”

Starr will be buried at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin after a memorial service at Antioch Community Church at 3 p.m. on September 24. Visitation is scheduled at Wilkirson-Hatch-Bailey Funeral Home in Waco on Sept. 23 from 4-7 p.m.

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“Judge Starr was a dedicated public servant and a strong advocate for religious freedom that allows faith-based institutions like Baylor to thrive,” Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone said in a statement Tuesday. “Ken and I served together as deans at Pepperdine University in the 2000s, and I valued him as a constitutional law scholar and fellow scholar who believed in the transformative power of higher education.

Starr, a native of Vernon, Texas, served as law clerk to Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger from 1975 to 1977, then served as an appellate judge in the 1980s before being appointed solicitor general in 1989.

US District Judge Judge Ed Kinkeade of Dallas, a friend of the Starrs, said Ken Starr was well-liked by Supreme Court justices of all political persuasions, and that reputation led him to be chosen as an independent attorney. in the Whitewater Inquiry in 1994.

Kinkeade has said throughout his career that Starr has the character to weather political storms.

“With all the controversy swirling around him, he was a kind and caring person, and I considered him a great friend,” Kinkeade said.

What began as an investigation into President Bill and Hillary Clinton’s connection to a real estate deal in Arkansas continued for five years and led to 11 convictions, but none of the Clintons. However, his bombshell revelation that the president had an affair with an intern and then lied about it under oath became one of the biggest news stories of the 1990s.

The Starr Report led to the impeachment of Bill Clinton by the House in 1998 for lying under oath and obstructing justice.

At the time, Starr was not considered a partisan pick, according to “The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr,” a 2010 book about Whitewater by Ken Gormley.

“Nothing in the historical record would suggest that Ken Starr was extreme or over the top early in his tenure as an independent attorney,” Gormley wrote. “Indeed, he was receiving a lot of criticism from the far right of the Republican Party for his timidity and ineffectiveness.”

The US Senate acquitted Clinton in 1999, and Starr resigned as independent counsel the same year.

“He was the most famous man in America at the time,” Kinkeade said. “He didn’t ask for this job. He had been Solicitor General and people were talking about him as the next person on the Supreme Court. But he became way too controversial for that. He didn’t shy away from controversy .”

Starr headed to the West Coast and became dean of law school at Pepperdine University in 2004 until he was selected to become Baylor’s 14th president, effective June 1, 2010.

During that time, he oversaw hundreds of millions of dollars in construction projects, including McLane Stadium, the new Trade School, the East Village residential community, and Hart Athletic Stadium.

He raised Baylor’s profile as a research institution and created a $100 million President’s Scholarship initiative.

At the same time, Baylor became a football powerhouse, with Robert Griffin III winning the school’s only Heisman Trophy in 2011 under coach Art Briles. Although Starr is generally seen as a unifying force for Baylor, his tenure was cut short by a campus sexual assault scandal that came to light in 2016.

A report by law firm Pepper Hamilton found Baylor executives had shown a ‘fundamental failure’ in responding to sexual assault claims against women, some of whom were allegedly victimized by the very popular football team. appreciated by Baylor. The Board of Regents ousted Starr as president, but eased the transition by allowing him to continue serving as chancellor and later law professor.

Many other senior Baylor officials, including Briles and sporting director Ian McCaw, were also ousted in the wake of the scandal.

Kinkeade said he never heard Starr complain about Baylor’s treatment of him. He said Starr and his wife continued to be generous Waco residents after his resignation.

In his Tuesday statement, Livingstone credited Starr with a “profound impact on Baylor University,” including the Pro Futuris strategic vision in 2012 that “placed Baylor on the path to where we are today as a ‘Christian Research Institution 1’.

Waco Mayor Dillon Meek, a graduate of Baylor and its law school, expressed his “sincere condolences” to the Starr family in a message to the Tribune-Herald.

“I am grateful for Judge and Ms. Starr’s commitment to worthy charitable and philanthropic work in Waco, which they have demonstrated time and time again.”


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