Baylor/BAA Transition: Those who say No

Vote NoBy Linda Wilkins
City Editor

As the vote nears, some Baylor Alumni Association members expressed their concerns about losing the 154-year-old organization and their independent voice.

Thomas Nesbitt, who graduated from Baylor in 1994 and is a lifetime member of the BAA, said the Transition Agreement should not be passed.

“The Transition Agreement is bad for Baylor,” Nesbitt said. “It dissolves the 154-year-old alumni association.”

Bette McCall Miller, a lifetime member of the BAA and the daughter of former Baylor President Abner McCall, said she wants the BAA to continue to exist in some form.

“I understand that it can’t continue as it has been in the past but I want it to still be around because there are many universities who have seen the value of having the independent alumni organization,” Miller said.

Sherry Castello, who was the editor of The Baylor Line for 25 years, said she hopes for a no vote Saturday.

The Transition Agreement would provide for an alumni regent on the Baylor Board of Regents.

“It doesn’t give anyone a voice,” Castello said. “They take an oath of confidentiality when they become regents. They don’t tell anybody anything. The representative would be chosen by the university. This is nothing.”
Nesbitt agreed. He said the alumni regent is a promise of nothing.

“That regent will be selected by the board of regents and an advisory committee that will be controlled by the Baylor administration,” Nesbitt said. “It’s not someone that represents alumni. The person can’t vote and therefore can’t truly participate in the governance of Baylor.”

In addition to the alumni regent, the Baylor Alumni Advisory Board would also be created. Miller said this board would not give the alumni a true voice.

“It has no power,” she said. “They do not publicly make statements on things they discuss. It’s a muzzled, powerless group.”

Miller said some people think the BAA only criticizes Baylor, but that is not true.

“We need another voice besides the administration,” Miller said. “Not that they’re doing anything wicked, but they want it to be one word coming out of Baylor.” Miller said having more voices to speak up about situations with the university is better than just one.

Another part of the Transition Agreement is the creation of the Baylor Line Corp. The corporation would publish the Baylor Line magazine.

Castello said the Transition Agreement still allows Baylor to read the Baylor Line before it is published.

“I edited it for 25 years,” she said. “I was never asked by anyone at Baylor not to publish anything and I was never read by anyone at Baylor.”

Nesbitt said he is concerned that Baylor might exercise control over The Baylor Line.

“Baylor has steadfastly insisted that the new agreement require the Baylor Line to provide ongoing and consistent support and that the Baylor Line advance university goals and objectives,” he said. “Those are not provisions that are in the current license agreement.”

The Baylor Line is not meant to make money for Baylor, Miller said, and it is meant to inform and alumni already know everything is not always good with Baylor.

“Why should we trust them to make a new agreement about the Baylor Line?” Miller said.

Because of the threat of license termination, Castello said it seems the university is trying to get rid of the BAA.

“Why would you say an institution that has been going here for 154 years can’t use the name Baylor anymore?” She said.

Castello said it is possible that in the case of a ‘no’ vote, the BAA and Baylor would enter litigation.

“What’s wrong with litigation?” Castello asked. “The alumni association has been independently chartered for a long time and I think the university is saying things like ‘we can keep you from using the name Baylor.’ There are lots of things we could call ourselves.”

Students should be aware of the Transition Agreement and all its aspects because it affects them, Nesbitt said.

“You’re going to forever be linked to Baylor University as a graduate,” he said. “I, as an alumnus, believe that what is best for Baylor is for alumni to have a voice in how the university is governed. The Baylor Alumni Association serves as a voice for alumni.”

Miller also said students should know the results of the BAA vote Saturday.

“The value of a Baylor degree either increases or decreases with time,” she said. “They need to keep in touch with Baylor to ensure their degree is connected with prestige in the future.”