Baylor Alumni Association considers options for future

BAA leaders say they’re seeking a way to maintain commitment to the university despite disagreement with its administrators.

By Ken Camp

When Baylor Alumni Association members gather for their fall meeting, they likely will choose one of three options as the organization’s primary function going forward — award financial assistance to Baylor University students, communicate with members or adopt both tasks as its responsibility.

Members approved a deliberative process to chart the organization’s future as recommended by its board of directors, and they elected officers and directors during a May 31 meeting in Waco.

Baylor“We plan to have an open, inclusive dialogue over the summer about the options, … which will prepare the membership to decide this fall on the future course of the BAA,” said Keith Starr of Tyler, Texas, newly elected president of the organization.

“The BAA remains committed to an open, transparent dialogue about constructive, mutually beneficial results for our members and the university. We believe that such dialogue is the best course to pursue in determining the BAA’s future and its continued commitment to Baylor.”

The specific time and date of the association’s fall meeting have not yet been determined.

In recent months, the association has amended its bylaws to give members the ability to vote electronically on certain issues, in addition to the longstanding practice of in-person voting at meetings, Starr noted.

At a meeting last September, members of the 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.

On Jan. 10, Baylor General Counsel Charles Beckenhauer sent a letter insisting the association “cease and desist from the use of Baylor trademarks without its consent.”

Two weeks later, the alumni association’s board of directors — meeting in executive session — granted then-president George Cowden authority to appoint a committee “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.”

Four months after Beckenhauer sent the “cease and desist” letter, 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.

This article includes information provided by Julie Hillrichs, a communications consultant working with the Baylor Alumni Association.