Alumni Network works to unite Baylor family

Tommye Lou Davis (Courtesy Art)
Tommye Lou Davis (Courtesy Art)
By Ada Zhang
Staff Writer

The Baylor Alumni Network aims to bring the Baylor community together and, to do so, the network relies heavily on volunteers.

The alumni network is a part of the Baylor Division of Constituent Engagement, which oversees many of Baylor’s outreach programs. According to the mission statement, the goal of the alumni network is to create opportunities for Baylor alumni, parents and other constituents to come together and build meaningful relationships.

Last year, the alumni network hosted 845 events in 140 cities across 26 states and in Washington, D.C.
Tommye Lou Davis, Baylor vice president for constituent engagement, said the network gathered about 36,000 Baylor Bears at these events.

“We do not attend every event,” Davis said in regards to the constituent engagement staff. “We have over 600 volunteers that help us in all these various locations. We rely on our volunteers that love to celebrate Baylor and help host these various events. Our model is volunteer driven, staff supported.”

The alumni network is made up of multiple interest groups. Each interest group serves a different purpose and plans events according to their own agenda.

“There’s a place for everybody in the network,” Davis said.

There are currently seven networks: Business, Global, Parents, Sports, Special Events, Women and Young Grads.

Judy Maggard, director of the Baylor Parents Network, said the parents network works with more than 200 volunteers on an annual basis to reach parent constituents.

“Last year we had 79 send-off parties,” Maggard said. “We’re still getting our numbers in, but I would say more than 3,000 students, family members, alumni and friends attended those events.”

Sendoff parties are hosted every summer by parent network chapters across the country.

Maggard said the send-off parties last year stretched from Burlington, Vt., to Seattle to Minneapolis down to South Texas.

The main purpose of a send-off party is for incoming freshman and their parents to become acquainted with other Baylor students and parents.

“They’re typically held in a private home of a parent volunteer, sometimes at churches, or community center, but by and large, they’re in private homes,” Maggard said.

The send-off party is an opportunity for parents to mingle, make connections and ask questions.

Parents who meet at a send-off party can communicate with one another and gather together for fellowship, Maggard said.

“The groups meet monthly to pray for students and the university,” Maggard said. “They do Bear Care packaging parties to send goodie boxes to students usually around finals time.”

Maggard said it is due to the generosity of volunteers that the alumni network is able to have an amazing program for parents.

Mary Ann Hill, president of Baylor University Women’s Council of Dallas, is on the volunteer side of the network.

Hill is a Baylor alumna and comes from a big Baylor family. Of her family members, 20 have attended Baylor, she said.

Hill said the Dallas chapter of the Baylor Women’s Network hosts two big events annually and these events vary from year to year.

Past events include luncheons, fashion shows, guest speakers and musical performances. Hill said 250 to 400 people usually attend.

“These events are a time to socialize and promote Baylor connections,” Hill said. “We invite all Dallas Baylor women.”

The Dallas women’s chapter is hosting an event on Sept. 19 called, “An Evening of Green and Gold.” The event will include a silent auction followed by dinner. The 2013 Woman of Distinction award will also be presented that evening to honor a member who has done exceptional work.

Lastly, the assistant athletic director John Morris, commonly known as “the Voice of the Bears,” will conduct an interview with Nick Florence, the 2012 Baylor quarterback. The event costs $45 per person.

Aside from hosting social events, the women’s network also raises money for student scholarships.

“Our scholarship effort is called the Barnabas Circle,” Hill said. “We invite our members to make contributions to our endowed scholarship fund. People can contribute any amount.”

If members contribute $1,000 or more, they become a part of the Barnabas Circle. Once they are a member, they must pay $250 every year to renew their membership. All contributions go towards student scholarships.

The Dallas women’s chapter provides a scholarship for five students each year. Last year, members raised $65,000 through this scholarship initiative.

“We take great pride in that and it makes us feel we are in touch with Baylor students because we have a part in their education,” Hill said.

While Davis said volunteers are crucial to the functioning of the network, Hill said volunteers could not do all that they do without the help of Baylor’s constituent engagement division.

“The network is so helpful to those of us who work away from Baylor,” Hill said. “They give us lots of guidance and help.”