The Baylor Alumni Association will submit a final settlement offer to Baylor University in what a public statement from the organization characterized as “a last-ditch effort to avoid protracted litigation” between the group and the university.
The association’s board of directors voted Sept. 6 to submit a final settlement offer, but the group did not release details of the offer pending a response from Baylor’s board of regents.
“We are not aware of the details of any proposal from the association,” said Lori Fogleman, Baylor University spokesperson.
“There is no question that Baylor is firing on every cylinder, and alumni worldwide are coming alongside the university in record numbers and in a multitude of ways to help fuel the upward trajectory of their alma mater,” she said. “We look forward to receiving the proposal, and we hope that it reflects the sentiment of the majority of Baylor alumni who are actively partnering with the university in this period of unparalleled progress.”
The alumni association believes “it is important for the entire board of regents to have an opportunity to proceed in a deliberative manner with regard to our settlement proposal with no outside influence,” BAA President Keith Starr said. “We believe that is what is in the best interests of the entire Baylor family.”
Finding a mutual framework
Representatives from the alumni association and the university met during the summer to find a framework that would be mutually acceptable, Starr said.
“We were all gratified that Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr was an active participant in this summer’s meetings and that he appeared to support a settlement,” said Keith Starr, no relation to the Baylor president.
“We thought we had a framework that would work for both parties, but the university has been reluctant to move forward. So, we’ve decided to offer one final streamlined proposal.”
Earlier, Baylor’s regents, acting through their attorneys, gave the alumni association until Sept. 6 to approve their settlement offer.
The alumni association wants “to settle without further pain” and “move toward a brighter future for all of us, united as the Baylor family,” Keith Starr insisted.
Suits and counter-suits
One year ago, members of the alumni association voted 830 to 669 to approve an agreement that would have disbanded the association, turned over all alumni activities to Baylor University and created the Baylor Line Corporation as a separate entity. However, the measure failed because it required a two-thirds vote. The university subsequently terminated its licensing agreement that allowed the alumni association to use the Baylor name and its registered trademarks.
In May, the alumni association published an issue of the Baylor Line. It featured a 12,000-word cover article that described the BAA’s perspective on the 12-year dispute between the association and the university’s board of regents and administration.
In June, the university filed suit against the BAA, seeking a judgment to prevent it from representing itself as the school’s official alumni association and compelling the organization to fulfill its charitable purpose by limiting itself to providing financial aid to Baylor students.
About two months later, the alumni association filed a counterclaim asserting the school breached its license and recognition agreements and its promise to provide the alumni organization a building. The claim seeks a judgment compelling Baylor to perform its obligations under the agreements and preventing the university from operating its Baylor Alumni Network.
“We believe that the Baylor board of regents does not have the right to unilaterally terminate long-standing, formal agreements that make the BAA the officially recognized alumni association on campus, and that the regents’ effort to do so wrongfully undermines the association’s ability to function,” Starr said.
“We have made every effort to find a way to resolve our differences, but if pressed, we intend to prevail if the case goes to trial.”