Judge halts demolition of Baylor alumni center

Still standing: The Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center at Baylor University escaped demolition because of a temporary restraining order.

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WACO—A U.S. District Court judge granted a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop demolition of the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center at Baylor University.

Kurt Dorr of Naperville, Ill., a member of the Baylor Alumni Association, filed the suit to stop the university from tearing down the building to make way for a pedestrian bridge to its new $250 million football stadium. The alumni association had been scheduled to vacate the building July 3.

Hearing set

baylor alumni assoc logo220The temporary restraining order remains in effect until after the defendants—Baylor Alumni Association; Baylor University; Elizabeth Coker, a Polk County District Court judge and immediate past president of the alumni association; and Collin Cox, a Houston attorney and incumbent president of the alumni association—have the opportunity to appear at a July 10 hearing.

Because it concerns pending litigation, Cox declined to comment until after the hearing.

Dorr filed the suit a couple of weeks after a group within the alumni association formed Independence at Baylor, an organization opposed to a proposal to dissolve the 154-year-old Baylor Alumni Association, create a separate nonprofit corporation to publish the Baylor Line magazine and turn over alumni-engagement functions to the university.

Sept. 7 vote

Baylor Alumni Association members will vote on the proposed transition agreement at a Sept. 7 called meeting. Ratification of the proposal requires two-thirds approval by members in attendance.

Independence at Baylor insists the proposal—which resulted from more than 10 months of negotiations between representatives of the Baylor board of regents and the alumni association—nullifies a 1993 licensing agreement and a 1994 agreement governing use of the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center.

Baylor University owns both the land and the alumni center building, but it granted the alumni association the right to occupy it unless the university needs the land and can find no suitable alternative. Baylor insists the building needs to be torn down in July in order for Baylor Stadium and related construction to stay on schedule.

Judge Walter Smith granted the injunction July 2, instructing Baylor, the alumni association and its officers to treat the proposed transition agreement and the agreement to vacate the alumni center as “currently unauthorized transactions” and refrain from implementing any aspects of the agreements until the Baylor Alumni Association votes.

‘Substantial threat’

“There exists a substantial threat that the plaintiff will suffer the irreparable injury of the surrender of possession by the Baylor Alumni Association and the destruction by Baylor University of the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center before plaintiff is afforded the opportunity to vote in a lawful proceeding of the Baylor Alumni Association unless this court grants the injunctive relief sought,” according to the court order.

Prior to the temporary restraining order, the alumni association already had started preparing to relocate temporarily to offices in Robinson Tower.

The 1994 agreement states: “Baylor may terminate the Baylor Alumni Association’s right to use the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center only in the event that Baylor needs the land on which the center is located for its purposes and no other land is reasonably available to Baylor for the purpose for which the land is needed. Should the Baylor Alumni Association’s right to use the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center be so terminated by Baylor, Baylor shall provide the Baylor Alumni Association with another building on the Baylor campus, the size, condition, quality of construction and location of which is approximately the same as the size, condition, quality of construction and location of the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center.”

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