WACO—The Baylor Alumni Association authorized its president to name a committee to explore the organization’s future after the group failed to approve a transition agreement with Baylor University and the school terminated a licensing agreement that allowed the association to use the Baylor name.
After a Jan. 25 meeting open to members of the alumni association, the group’s board of directors met in executive session and unanimously approved a recommendation from its executive committee granting George Cowden III of San Antonio authority to appoint the committee.
The recommendation calls for “the appointment of a committee by the president to prepare proposed amendments to the constitution and bylaws to reflect the continued support of Baylor University through the publication of the Baylor Line, existing endowments, any other endowment funds that may be created by the Baylor Alumni Association in the future and other such support as the committee may deem appropriate.”
Keith Starr of Tyler will chair the committee. Other members are Jack Dillard and Jim Nelson from Austin, Emily Tinsley of Houston and Tony Pederson of Dallas.
‘Charting a course for the future’
“This committee will play a crucial role in charting a course for the future of the Baylor Alumni Association,” Cowden said. “I am confident that the committee members … will put their skills and talents to work and will enable us to engage the Baylor board of regents in an open, transparent dialogue about constructive, mutually beneficial results for our members and the university.”
The Baylor Alumni Association’s actions followed a letter Charles Beckenhauer, Baylor University general counsel, sent Jan. 10 insisting the association “cease and desist from the use of Baylor trademarks without its consent.”
Beckenhauer’s letter asked the association to provide the university—by the close of business Jan. 27—its plan to stop using Baylor’s licensed marks and “reform its purpose in a manner that is in the best interests of Baylor, its students and its alumni.”
“If such a plan acceptable to Baylor is not forthcoming, Baylor will be forced to consider all options available to it,” Beckenhauer’s letter said.
Whether creation of a committee satisfies Baylor’s expectations remains uncertain.
No response from university
As of Jan. 29, the alumni association had not received any response from Baylor or its legal counsel following the action taken at its Jan. 25 meeting, said Chad Wooten, chief operating officer of the Baylor Alumni Association.
Baylor officials also declined to make any public statement.
Last September, 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.
At that meeting in Waco, alumni association members voted 830 to 669 to approve an agreement that would have disbanded the association, turned over all alumni activities to the 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.
Last summer, the university demolished the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center—the alumni association’s on-campus home since 1978—to make way for a plaza leading to a pedestrian bridge connecting the main campus to the new Baylor football stadium.
The university provided the alumni association office space in Clifton Robinson Tower until early December, when the group was forced to relocate to an off-campus location in Waco.