Baylor, BGCT reach compromise

Special agreement vote to allow university increased board member selection

By Daniel C. Houston
Staff Writer

The Baptist General Convention of Texas voted Monday at its annual convention to approve a new special agreement with Baylor, replacing the 20-year-old agreement that preceded it and setting up today’s consideration of a budget proposal that could strip Baylor of $889,053 in cooperative program funding next year.

Baylor will have more influence over the selection process for members of its board of regents under the new special agreement, which allows Baylor to select three of the five members of the nominating committee that recommends Baylor regent candidates to the BGCT.

The BGCT will remain responsible for selecting 25 percent of the board’s membership.

Ed Jackson, a representative of the BGCT serving on the committee responsible for renegotiating the agreement, said the negotiation process did not always run smoothly but the agreement the committee ultimately reached was satisfactory to both parties.

“The committee was prepared to recommend no new agreement until we found one that satisfied both Baylor and the Baptist General Convention of Texas,” Jackson said.

“It is an agreement that I think is good for both the BGCT and Baylor. I think it’s positive for the future.”

The new agreement also removed language from the old document requiring Baylor’s board of regents to maintain a 100 percent Baptist membership, a change that reflected Baylor’s decision in February to allow for the first time up to one-quarter of the board’s members to be non-Baptist Christians.

While opening up the board to non-Baptist Christians caused public controversy within the BGCT and ultimately prompted the executive board to request a renegotiation of the special agreement in May, the subject was not discussed during debate on the resolution before its passage.

A Baylor spokeswoman declined to comment on the new agreement until today’s budget proposal is voted on by the convention.

“Right now it’s just premature for us to comment about anything since the meeting is still going on,” Lori Fogleman, director of media relations, said.

Representatives from both the BGCT and Baylor stressed the importance of the two autonomous institutions maintaining a strong relationship with each other despite Baylor’s non-affiliated status with the BGCT.

“Both entities are separate entities,” Roger Hall, another member of the BGCT negotiation team, said.

“We don’t own Baylor; they don’t own us. … What we do think as we present this report to you is that our extended family wants us to work together.”

The BGCT convention will vote today on a final budget proposal that would cut cooperative program funding for Baylor undergraduate programs by 51.7 percent while raising funding for every other participating Baptist institution.

This amount remains unchanged from the amount originally considered by the BGCT executive board on Sept. 27.

According to the proposed budget, funding for George W. Truett Theological Seminary would remain funded at roughly the same level as it was in last year’s budget, dropping by 1.7 percent to $1.1 million next year.

The business session at which the proposed budget will be discussed will begin at 3 p.m. in Amarillo and will be streamed live online.