BAA transition agreement

For over 158 years, the Baylor Alumni Association (BAA) has served as the “official alumni voice” for Baylor University. For over 140 of those years, there was honest, cooperative agreement in which the BAA was celebrated by Baylor University for its loyal, consistent support benefitting students, faculty, staff and administrators of Baylor.

The BAA has supported its Baylor legacy with vast financial contributions, by recruiting students from among family and friends, and by encouraging and celebrating accomplishments of the faculty, staff, administration and distinguished alumni. It has been the prominent leader in providing information concerning Baylor University activities, achievements and schedules of events to alumni — and, yes, sometimes offering loving, corrective advice to the university through her board of regents.

And since the mid-1990s, how has the Baylor University board of regents treated its most dedicated supporters? By usurping the BAA honors programs. By refusing to provide the BAA with lists of graduating seniors so graduates could be welcomed into the “official alumni voice” of Baylor University. By not making degree information available for graduates’ class ring purchases. By bulldozing the BAA’s Hughes-Dillard Alumni Center.

It seems to me the Baylor board of regents has developed a fear of the loyal support that the independent BAA has continually lavished on Baylor University. Did regents fear happy, supportive, loyal alumni could no longer be trusted to continue to support the university to other alumni and friends? Where did these fears arise? When did the apparent desire for absolute control of Baylor alumni become prevalent? Perhaps the regents should publicly answer these questions and others that loyal alumni are asking.

Let us return to a congenial, honest, respectful, open relationship between Baylor University and the Baylor Alumni Association.

Former Baylor President Samuel Palmer Brooks said to Baylor graduates, “have a care for her,” when speaking of Baylor University. The Baylor Alumni Association has continually upheld Dr. Brooks’ charge. Have recent members of the Baylor board of regents shown the same diligence?

Jim Hardwick, Waco

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Until this week, I have not been a member of the Baylor Alumni Association. However, I joined the BAA this week so that I may vote in favor of the historic transition agreement. I love Baylor, and I want to see the university continue on this trajectory to even greater heights.

I joined the BAA because I saw an opportunity to heal Baylor. As an active member of student government during my undergraduate career, I witnessed first-hand the rocky relationship between our beloved university and the BAA. It was hard for me to understand how two organizations that should have a fundamental, congruent goal — to make Baylor a better place — grew so far apart. It is clear that something needs to change and it’s time to put past disagreements aside.

I joined the BAA because I want Baylor to have an alumni engagement strategy that is fit for the 21st century. Though the BAA may have once been effective in providing services to alumni, it no longer provides alumni services and programs that today’s Baylor graduates require. The Baylor Alumni Network has given me tremendous opportunities to connect with other alumni since my graduation over two years ago.

I joined the BAA because I want to have a voice in the way Baylor engages in alumni relations. The leadership of Baylor and the BAA labored for months to collaboratively develop the transition agreement. The spirit with which the leadership of the university and BAA worked together embodies what this agreement is all about: a mutually beneficial pact that supports the broader mission of Baylor University. This fair and reasonable agreement provides for the independent voice of The Baylor Line while increasing the reach of Baylor’s already-robust alumni engagement efforts.

I joined the BAA so that I have a say in the future of our university. If you are not currently a member of the BAA, there is still time to join so that your voice may also be heard.

I joined so I can vote in favor of the transition agreement on Sept. 7. I joined so we can move Baylor forward. For as little as $60 you can join. Go to the BAA website and join as soon as possible: www.bayloralumniassociation.com.

Michael Wright, Houston

EDITOR’S NOTE: Wright served as Student Body president at Baylor from 2010-2011 and is an account executive at Travelers Insurance in Houston.

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This year is the 65th anniversary of my graduation from Baylor University. I retired as Macon Professor of Theology after serving my alma mater for 45 years. I also have served for many years as acting president of the Class of ’48.

Today I received in the mail an invitation to the Baylor Homecoming dinner. My class is to be honored at that dinner. The invitation came not from the alumni association but from the “Constituent Engagement” division of the Baylor administration. In the same mail came a large multi-colored promotion from the Office of the President urging me as an alumnus to be present for the vote on Sept. 7 and to vote “yes” on the agreement that will, for all intents and purposes, abolish the Alumni Association.

These communications, along with the opinion piece by Wilton Lanning in last week’s Trib, has helped me make up my mind. I will not attend the dinner. I will be present on Sept. 7 to vote “No!”

Dr. C.W. Christian, Waco

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Many more seasoned Baylor alumni have expressed their opinion about the upcoming vote on the Baylor Alumni Association, but the voice of more recent alumni has been lost in all the arguing.

I’m a 2011 Baylor Law School graduate and proud to call Waco my adopted hometown. Recent Baylor graduates are focused on building careers in a slow economy and trying to raise children in a fallen world. In that context, this debate about the BAA seems like a silly distraction. We already know that the BAA is all but dead. Why would I say this? Almost none of my friends from Baylor are BAA members. No one approached me about being a BAA member or attending any BAA-sponsored events. The BAA’s only effect on my life has been this annoying debate.

The value of my Baylor degree increases as Baylor grows in prestige and strength. Petty infighting does not make Baylor stronger. Frankly, it seems a little ridiculous to those of us trying to provide for young families or make a difference in our struggling communities.

BAA members, please bring this long debate to an end. We are Baylor, and we are called to bigger things.

W. Cody Stapp, Waco