A Proposal ReceivedRegents ask alumni to dissolve their charter
By David Lacy ’79, BAA president for 2009, and Jeff Kilgore ’90, MSEd’92, BAA executive vice president and CEO
Saturday, September 19, the Baylor Board of Regents and Baylor Interim
President David Garland submitted a proposal to the Board of Directors
of the Baylor Alumni Association (BAA) during its regularly scheduled
This proposal requested that the BAA dissolve its charter and turn over
all of its assets, personnel, and operations to the university as well
as editorial control of the BAA’s alumni publications. In return,
Baylor would absorb the BAA as a department of the university, and the
BAA’s governing board would be reconstituted as a board of advisors.
The planned agenda for the BAA’s board meeting was to observe and
celebrate the BAA’s 150th anniversary of supporting Baylor and serving
alumni and to hear a report concerning the alumni association’s new
five-year plan, “United for Baylor,” which is designed to increase
scholarship giving to children of alumni and to encourage alumni to
raise money for Baylor. (See “What We Will Achieve.”)
The university’s Board of Regents and administration, however, demanded
an audience with the BAA board during this celebration and regular
business meeting to present their proposal for the BAA to terminate its
existence as a self-governing organization. Numerous responses and
requests from the BAA to regents and Garland to defer this discussion
until the next BAA board meeting were rejected.
During the past three years, the Board of Regents has rejected the
BAA’s continued requests for an official audience with regents to
address any concerns and to discuss mutual efforts focusing on
restoring unity and moving Baylor forward.
In addition to requesting the dissolution of the BAA’s charter, the
proposal characterized the BAA’s historic role as a trusted
communicator with alumni as being a “watchdog.” Being a trusted
communicator is only one of numerous roles played by the Baylor Alumni
Association, which comprises 19,000 of the school’s strongest
cheerleaders and dedicated fans.
The BAA’s governing board will strongly consider the merits of the
proposal received from the Board of Regents and interim administration.
The BAA has always given any request from the Baylor administration
full consideration in keeping with the responsibilities with which it
is entrusted. Through the formation of a study committee composed of
alumni and faculty, the BAA will thoroughly study the proposal.
The request for the BAA to dissolve raises questions with many alumni,
considering that only two years ago both the BAA and the Baylor Board
of Regents agreed upon and expressed their commitment to the
independence of the BAA, strategic plans that support the mission of
the university, and a harmonious relationship. A survey of BAA members
and non-member alumni during this same time period found that 83
percent of respondents believe the BAA’s independence enables it to be
a strong partner with the university while providing alumni with their
The same survey revealed that 96 percent of those polled believe the
BAA should serve as an organization that responsibly and candidly
represents the collective interests and values of Baylor alumni and
provides a forum for the Baylor family to address issues concerning the
well-being of the university. As we would with anyone else, we
certainly believe that a group of twenty-one individuals on the Board
of Regents and the interim president are entitled to their opinion.
This opinion requires us to study and consider the many ways that this
proposal will affect our organization and Baylor.
The regents’ urgent demand to present this proposal at this particular
time raises a number of questions. Why has the current Board of
Regents, under new leadership since June, taken this 180-degree turn
away from its historic support of the BAA’s independence? And why now?
We are not sure what the answers to these questions are, but we believe
we must respond fully and faithfully to the proposal, as any good
fiduciary would, in a way that is best for Baylor. That will be our
guiding light as we consider the proposal.
The BAA’s membership of more than 19,000 continues to represent the
strongest, most actively engaged members of Baylor’s alumni base. The
association’s own membership base has never been stronger and ranks
among the typical membership percentages of its Big 12 counterparts.
As a financially self-sufficient group, the BAA provides $1.8 million
in programs and services that engage alumni and encourage them to
support the university. Under the terms of the proposal, this is
roughly $1.8 million that the university would begin funding with its
own funds to provide the same services. This past fiscal year, the BAA
engaged more than 24,000 participants in its programs and had nearly
1.5 million communication contacts with alumni and friends.
In addition, BAA members’ financial support of Baylor remains a
critical component of the university’s health. Members of the BAA
constitute more than half of all alumni donors to the university,
directly contributing $14.2 million to Baylor during a recent fiscal
year. The alumni association’s operations have never been stronger,
running a balanced budget and maintaining its history of receiving
unqualified audits. This success has come alongside the efforts of
Baylor regents and administrators over the past year to change and
sever the functional and service-oriented connections between Baylor
and the BAA in a manner that departs from the historic partnership
between the two organizations.
All of the above stated successes are germane to the mission and
purpose of the BAA, and the facts show that the BAA and alumni are
performing well. All of this must be considered when we study this
proposal, as well as whether or not this proposal allows the BAA to
expand its services in a way that is best for Baylor.
Baylor University is unique as an institution of higher education,
maintaining a delicate balance between learning and faith while being
governed by a self-perpetuating board of twenty-one individuals who
have limited checks and balances to their authority as far as
determining the future course of Baylor. Because of that special
status, and for hundreds of other reasons, many alumni and the
strongest supporters of Baylor have believed that the university is
best served by an association that is self-governed and endowed with an
independent voice—an association whose uniqueness in the world of
private higher education matches the uniqueness of the institution it
serves. (See “Why Independent?”)
We must carefully study whether or not this mission holds true today as we consider this new proposal.
As leaders of the alumni association, we hope this candid, simply
stated personal response will be clearly understood by you—our fellow
Baylor alumni and friends. We need your input as well as we study this
proposal. We encourage you to read the “Historical Overview and Timeline of Recent University Actions” that was distributed to our board and the text of Baylor’s proposal.
As an alum, what do you think? Please let us know by contacting us by e-mail at BaylorLine@BaylorAlumniAssociation.com.