Regents Appoint William Underwood As Interim President

April 29, 2005

by Julie Carlson

The Baylor University Board of Regents by acclamation today appointed William D. Underwood, The Leon Jaworski Chair in Practice and Procedure at Baylor Law School, as interim president, effective June 1. On that date, Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. will transition to chancellor.

Underwood, a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law, where he was a member of the Board of Editors of the University of Illinois Law Review, graduated as salutatorian of his class, and was a member of the Order of the Coif. Following graduation from law school, Underwood completed a prestigious federal judicial clerkship with the Honorable Sam D. Johnson of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

Prior to joining the Baylor faculty in 1990, Underwood practiced civil trial law with Carrington, Coleman, Sloman & Blumenthal, an elite litigation firm based in Dallas. He took a two-year leave of absence from the faculty between 1997-98 to serve as Baylor's general counsel.

Underwood, who holds an undergraduate degree from Oklahoma Baptist University, has published extensively in the field of civil practice and procedure, including articles that have led to significant changes in federal and state procedural law. He also is a high-profile courtroom lawyer who continues to successfully represent clients in a variety of civil and criminal cases.

Underwood also has represented Baylor in proceedings before the NCAA Committee on Infractions. He was a member of and spokesperson for a committee that recently spearheaded an investigation into allegations of misconduct arising out of the death of men's basketball player Patrick Dennehy.
Designated a Master Teacher by Baylor, Underwood directs the Law School's Practice Court program, which was recently described by the Princeton Review as "unique," "tough," "ultra-intense" and "arguably the best training ground in the nation for practical lawyering."

Referring to the Practice Court program, the Litigation News has reported that "Baylor law students get a degree of trial advocacy training unusual among the nation's law schools."

Underwood is an elected member of the American Law Institute, the American Bar Foundation, the Texas Bar Foundation, and has served as Reporter to the Civil Justice Reform Act Advisory Group to the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas.

Underwood and his wife, Lesli, are the parents of two children, Jessica, 16, and William, 11. They are members of Seventh and James Baptist Church in Waco.