However court-ordered mediation between Baylor University, Baylor Alumni Association leadership and a disgruntled alumnus blocking the razing of Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center on campus turns out, last week’s vote by Baylor regents to move ahead with a $2.5 million feasibility study and fundraising for a new, $17 million alumni events center alongside Baylor Stadium is yet another significant step toward patching up long-strained relations between the fiercely independent BAA and Baylor. Let no one put asunder this and other moves to heal past wounds.
Skeptics might be justified in concluding that regents’ move was undertaken to spur positive resolution of mediation talks that began Monday, but Baylor sources say this is not so. Early plans for Baylor Stadium included a number of grand “extras,” including an alumni events center. Baylor officials understandably balked at these, partially because of the steep hill they foresaw in raising funds to build the stadium itself.
So who would have guessed fundraising for the $250 million stadium would jump far ahead of expectations? That’s why this spring Baylor leaders revived the idea of an alumni events center that would grace the stadium and even serve the community. The idea picked up steam, no doubt encouraged by efforts of the BAA board of directors and executive committee to properly fold BAA operations into Baylor’s own alumni outreach system, even as the BAA was guaranteed much of its critical (and, yes, invaluable) independence.
For Wacoans, an alumni events center would also make available one more venue for public and private events — this one overlooking a riverfront in dynamic transition, readily visible from the 40,000-square-foot, multistory glass building, further cementing ties between Baylor and our community. For the so-called Baylor Nation, this proposed structure represents something more — another move to place Baylor and the BAA on the same page instead of working at cross-purposes, as they have much of the past decade. While it would not precisely be a replacement for the current Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center targeted for razing, its striking design, its proximity to the state-of-the-art athletic stadium now taking shape and its stated purpose mark the importance of the BAA and the need for it to share more integrally in Baylor’s future.
Those members of the BAA who continue to preach independence to the point of irrelevance, contrary to the efforts of their own leadership, may well want to consider the actions this past Saturday of the Baylor “B” Association, a long-established group of athletic letter-winners at Baylor who have similarly prided themselves on their independence: In the interest of better working to help Baylor’s fast-evolving athletic program, the general membership voted unanimously in favor of a resolution brought forward by their executive committee that will bring them entirely into the overall university structure.