Baylor Alumni Association vote sparks media blitz

Marketing Communications - Campus Photos - Burleson Quadrangle, Old Main, Hankamer School of Business (HSB), Carroll Science Hall. 10/01/2010

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As members of the Baylor Alumni Association prepare for a called meeting Sept. 7 to vote on a transition agreement with Baylor University, the proposal continues to stir debate and spark a media blitz.

grant teaff400Former Baylor football coach Grant Teaff lends his support to the transition agreement in an ad in the Waco Tribune-Herald. (Photo: Matt Hellman/ Baylor Lariat)A “Baylor Forward” billboard along I-35 urges a “yes” vote, a Facebook post touts the Baylor University Faculty Senate’s endorsement of the agreement, and legendary Baylor Bears Football Coach Grant Teaff lends his support in an ad in the Waco Tribune-Herald.

At the same time, a series of guest columns in the Waco newspaper by prominent alumni—as well as a “thoughtful voices” article in the Baylor Line—offer varied views on the proposal, with advocates of the agreement praising it as “unifying” and opponents lamenting it as a “death sentence” for the independent alumni association.

The proposed transition agreement brings all alumni engagement efforts under one in-house organization, dissolves the 154-year-old Baylor Alumni Association and creates a new independent corporation to publish the Baylor Line magazine. Ratification of the proposal requires two-thirds approval by members in attendance at the Sept. 7 meeting.

Faculty Senate

Baylor’s Faculty Senate issued a statement to all faculty Aug. 27 voicing support for “reconciliation within the Baylor family.”

“Having recently met jointly with the chair of the board of regents and the president of the Baylor Alumni Association on the nature and terms of the transition agreement, we believe that this agreement holds great promise for moving our university forward in unity and mutual trust,” the Faculty Senate said.

baylor forward button150The proposal continues to stir a media blitz.“In the unanimous view of the Faculty Senate, this agreement promises a structure that allows alumni to work more directly and effectively with the board of regents and the university administration while maintaining an independent voice in university affairs through the proposed creation of the Baylor Line Corporation and the continuing publication of the Baylor Line.”

In an Aug. 29 ad in the Waco Tribune-Herald, Teaff—who led the Baylor Bears to two Southwest Conference titles and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame—appears with this endorsement: “As a coach, I know to win, a team must be united, dedicated to a single purpose. For Baylor to continue to win, our alumni must be steadfast in their dedication to move Baylor Forward. I urge all members of the Baylor Alumni Association to vote in favor of the transition agreement.”

In contrast, the daughter of a former Baylor University president wrote to urge “everyone who values an independent alumni association and editorial freedom of the Baylor Line” to vote against the agreement.

Bette McCall Miller

Alumni association officers capitulated to threats from Baylor University when they signed the transition agreement, Bette McCall Miller of Pittsburg, daughter of former Baylor President Abner McCall, wrote in an Aug. 27 guest column in the Tribune-Herald.

The university threatened to evict the alumni association from the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center—which it demolished this summer—and unilaterally terminate its contracts with the Baylor Alumni Association unless the organization dissolved voluntarily, she asserted.

“Threats were necessary because the transition agreement is not good for the Baylor Alumni Association. Nor is it good for anyone at Baylor other than a few members of the current board of regents who seek to control any message coming out of Baylor,” she wrote.

In a June 29 guest column, she wrote, “I urge members of the BAA to come to the special called meeting Sept. 7 and vote against this death sentence for the BAA.”

Similarly, in the Baylor Line, the son of another former Baylor president likewise critiqued the transition agreement.

Kent Reynolds

Kent Reynolds of Waco, whose father, Herbert Reynolds, served as the university’s president from 1981 to 1995, wrote: “It in a nutshell, it’s a bad agreement. It requires the BAA to terminate its 1993 license agreement with Baylor that was supposed to continue in perpetuity; it also terminates the 1994 building agreement that would require Baylor to replace the recently demolished Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center with a new building; and it requires the BAA to dissolve itself and re-form as a new entity that’s a shell of its former self.”

Likewise in the Baylor Line, Rufus Spain of Waco, who taught in the Baylor history department from 1957 to 1988, urged members of the alumni association to reject what he called “the transition to oblivion agreement.”

Randall Fields

However, Randall Fields of San Antonio, who served as president of the Baylor Alumni Association and as a Baylor trustee when the university changed its charter in 1990, wrote in the Baylor Line to support the transition agreement.

“The association’s purpose is to serve Baylor by serving Baylor alumni and to act as an alumni voice to the university,” Fields wrote. “Given the current environment and available resources, how is this mission best accomplished?

“I believe that the recommendation preserves our mission by maintaining an independent alumni voice, while maximizing the relationship with all Baylor alumni through the combined resources of the university and the association.”

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