No matter what your stance on the struggle between Baylor University and the Baylor Alumni Association a decade ago, no one who even remotely prides himself in his Baylor pedigree should conspire to torpedo the great strides Baylor is now making in terms of research, alumni development and athletics, including Baylor Stadium. Certainly, it’s time for everyone involved to readjust their paradigms in terms of getting along.
Yes, this newspaper readily acknowledges the war between then-Baylor President Robert Sloan and the alumni association (plus others such as the faculty senate). Back then, we marveled at the tone-deaf approach of some on the Baptist campus. Consulting our files from those years, we’re dumbfounded at how rancorous those times were — and how strikingly different the mood is at Baylor today. And that’s really our point.
As Baylor and an irked BAA member prepare for court-ordered mediation talks over the latter’s legal move to halt demolition of the BAA building on campus to pave way for construction of Baylor Stadium, we remind all parties that this is a new era at Baylor, one that under Baylor President Ken Starr and current regents focuses on both inclusiveness and conciliation. Those qualities surely mark the so-called “transition agreement” forged by Baylor and the BAA executive committee, itself under the watchful eye of the BAA board of directors.
This pact guarantees the BAA its cherished independence will continue through publication of The Baylor Line. It would create a Baylor Alumni Advisory Board that could wield great influence. Also planned: razing the BAA building to make way for a plaza for a magnificent walkway tying the campus to the $250 million athletic stadium rising on the east banks of the Brazos. Then Chicago banker Kurt Dorr obtained a restraining order preventing the latter. A delay of two months (till a BAA membership vote on the proposed pact) could cost Baylor hundreds of thousands of dollars extra and otherwise confound planned construction logistics.
U.S. District Judge Walter Smith Jr. this week wisely ordered parties into mediation. When Baylor, the BAA leadership and Dorr, no doubt representing some like-minded members, sit down July 22 to hash matters out, let’s hope they keep in mind how far Baylor has come since those stormy days, and not just in terms of buildings and administration but optimism and commitment to convergence. Yes, independence is second nature to Baptists, but this shouldn’t serve as an excuse to ignore prospects that not only promise much for students and scholarship but this city as well.