The lockout occurred three months after the alumni association failed to approve by the necessary super-majority a transition agreement that would have turned all alumni-engagement functions over to the university.
“Sometime during the night of Monday, Dec. 9, university personnel acting for the board of regents locked the Baylor Alumni Association out of its office at Clifton Robinson Tower. This is the latest effort by the board of regents to silence the independent voice of Baylor alumni,” George Cowden III of San Antonio reported in his email to members.
Two days earlier, the alumni association held a members’ meeting in the chapel of Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary. At the meeting, members unanimously approved changes to the organization’s bylaws to allow remote, electronic or mail-in voting by members not able to be present at a meeting.
“We are encouraged that the association is moving forward with contemporizing its voting procedures and is revisiting its purpose for the future. We remain hopeful regarding the ultimate resolution by the association to move forward in a positive way on behalf of Baylor and all of its alumni,” said Lori Fogleman, assistant vice president for media communications at Baylor University.
The alumni association relocated its offices to an off-campus Waco site—St. Charles Place at 600 Austin Ave., Suite 14—and the group plans to publish the February issue of The Baylor Line as scheduled, Cowden wrote.
“The BAA is committed to maintaining an independent voice for alumni in Baylor affairs, regardless of the actions taken by the university. Distinctive among alumni organizations at private universities, the BAA has a tradition of independence as a self-governing organization that has allowed us to serve Baylor University with integrity and loyalty for over 150 years,” he wrote.
Board will meet Jan. 25
The alumni association’s board of directors is scheduled to meet Jan 25.
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At a called meeting Sept. 7, Baylor Alumni Association members voted 830 to 669 to approve a transition agreement with Baylor University that would have disbanded the association, allowed the university to assume all alumni-engagement activities and create the Baylor Line Corporation to preserve what supporters called “an independent alumni voice.” However, the measure failed because it required a two-thirds vote.
Prior to the transition agreement vote, Baylor demolished the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center—the alumni association’s on-campus headquarters since 1978—to make way for a plaza leading to a pedestrian bridge connecting the main campus to the new Baylor Stadium.
After the transition agreement vote, Baylor President Ken Starr then emailed a letter to “Baylor Nation” saying the university’s previously announced intention to terminate its licensing agreement with the alumni association went into effect Sept. 8, and the association had 90 days to phase out the use of Baylor’s licensed marks.
Subsequently, at least one-third of the alumni association’s board of directors—including four officers—resigned. All alumni association staff except Chief Operating Officer Chad Wooten and Development Officer Pete Rowe resigned to accept jobs with Baylor University, leaving The Baylor Line magazine without editorial and production staff.
‘Will not yield’
“Unsuccessful in its attempt on Sept. 7 to convince the BAA to voluntarily dissolve, the university continues its deliberate efforts to destroy the organization. The Baylor Alumni Association will not yield,” Cowden said.
Wooten noted the alumni association was working with contract writers and an outside art director to produce the magazine—which bears the Baylor name, at least for now, even though the university revoked the association’s right to use its licensed marks.
“We’re still the Baylor Alumni Association, as far as we’re concerned, and it’s still The Baylor Line at this point. We’ll see if any of that changes before we go to press,” Wooten said.