Baylor University alumnus and former Texas Gov. Mark White called upon the school’s board of regents to step in and delay a scheduled vote Saturday on a measure that would dissolve the Baylor Alumni Association, in a last-ditch effort to save the organization.
In a Friday email that was circulated to regent Chairman Richard Willis, Baylor President Ken Starr, and several other current and former regents, White charged that the relationship between the university and BAA will be fragmented regardless of the outcome of the vote on the transition agreement.
White wrote that a resolution should be reached by further amicable discussion instead of by a vote or, if the agreement is not approved, possible legal action between the two entities.
Calling to delay a vote “would be viewed not as weakness or indecisiveness but as the extension of the hand of Christian fellowship and the establishment of a new covenant of trust and unity among all members of the Baylor family,” White wrote in the email.
But BAA president Collin Cox said the vote will proceed as planned.
“We’ve got a lot of people coming a long ways to vote, so we’re going forward,” Cox said. “We’re following our bylaws on when meetings need to be noticed and how far in advance you have to give notice.”
Willis did not respond to phone messages and emails requesting comment. Several other regents including Buddy Jones, Jim Hawkins and Dary Stone also did not return phone messages.
White said in an interview that he had not received a reply from the regents by Friday afternoon, but still hoped that some intervention would take place to postpone a vote.
White, who lives in Houston and will be in Waco for Saturday’s meeting, said he expects that many alums also planned to attend the Baylor football game against Buffalo University, so few would be inconvenienced if the vote were canceled.
The transition agreement would, among other things, dissolve the BAA and allow Baylor to takeover alumni outreach activities, but also license a new Baylor Line Corp. that would continue publishing The Baylor Line alumni magazine that BAA has produced since 1947. Two-thirds of the alumni who cast votes must approve the agreement for it to go into effect.
If it does not pass, Baylor intends to terminate other existing contracts with BAA that allow the group to serve as the university’s official alumni organization, including rights to use the Baylor name, effective Sunday.
White said the relationship between Baylor and BAA has been filled with “bitterness” during the past 15 years as the alumni group fought to remain an independent voice from the university.
‘This is a family’
“If it were just a common corporation, I wouldn’t even suggest what I’m talking about,” White said. “But this is a family. This is not a divorce. This is brothers and sisters. It’s a different circumstance, and we have to elevate it . . . you shouldn’t determine this at a polling place. The future of Baylor is better determined on our knees in the church house.”
Baylor in 2002 created its own Baylor Alumni Network that hosts alumni events throughout the country, and the university in 2007 stopped providing funding to the BAA.
Baylor in 2009 cut off the organization’s access to new graduates’ contact information and barred it from participating in commencement activities, which BAA leaders said hurt its recruitment of young members.
This summer, Baylor razed the Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center, the BAA’s home on campus since 1978, for what will eventually become a grassy plaza leading to a pedestrian bridge connecting to the on-campus football stadium being built on the opposite bank of the Brazos River.
A Chicago-area alum filed a lawsuit in July that temporarily delayed the demolition but failed to secure a permanent injunction to halt the project.
“It’s not a good forum for a Christian university to be determining these relationships in a courthouse or in a debate or in any forum except in prayerful consideration and with guidance from (God),” White said. “His wisdom is greater than ours, and I believe that we could come to an agreement that will yield a united Baylor . . . and I’m asking for one last chance.”
What: Baylor Alumni Association vote on transition agreement with Baylor
When: Votes can be cast between 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday; BAA is holding a 8:30 a.m. member discussion forum and a special meeting at 11 a.m. before polls open.
Where: Waco Hall
More information: Only members who joined or whose membership was current by 12:30 p.m.
Aug. 28 can vote. Visit www.baylorline.com/blog/2013/07/07/baa-membership-list/ to check your eligibility.
BAA has retained accounting firm Jaynes, Reitmeier, Boyd and Therrell, P.C. to tabulate the votes. Results will be announced Saturday afternoon.