BAA chooses to remain independent

Baylor alumni voted on the proposed Baylor Forward Transition Agreement at Waco Hall on Saturday, September 7, 2013. Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor

By Ada Zhang
Staff Writer

The Baylor Alumni Association remains an independent voice after members voted Saturday not to pass the Transition Agreement that would merge the BAA with the Baylor Alumni Network.

This will mean the termination of the BAA’s license to use the Baylor name, according to a letter sent by the university on May 31.

Tensions built up for months leading up to meeting as some alumni wished to remain an independent entity while others wished to dissolve and become a part of the university.

Alumni wishing to remain independent voted no to the agreement and those wishing to dissolve voted yes.

Out of the 1,499 votes cast on Saturday, there were 830 yes votes and 668 no votes. One vote was counted illegal for being in favor of both yes and no.

In order for the agreement to pass, 1,000 yes votes, a two-thirds majority, were needed.

Despite missing the two-thirds mark, BAA president Collin Cox said he is thrilled that more than half of the members present voted yes.

“We have a ton of opinions in BAA,” Cox said. “We are a deep, caring group, and I’m not surprised we have disagreement. When more than half say we need something new, that’s good.”

President Ken Starr said in an email to the Lariat that he is thankful for the alumni who supported the transition.

“We thank all those who rallied to express their enthusiastic support for a new day at Baylor as we continue to seek to move our beloved university forward,” Starr said.

John Barry, Baylor vice president for marketing and communications and chief marketing officer, said in an interview prior to the BAA meeting that the license to use the Baylor name would be automatically terminated if the agreement did not pass.

However, Cox said after voting results were revealed that the termination is not certain.

“We’ve seen the notice saying, ‘We’re going to send you the termination,’ but we don’t have the notice saying, ‘You are terminated’ yet,” Cox said on Saturday. “It could be sent as early as tomorrow. We’ll just see. It’s not in our control.”

As of Monday night, there has been no word from Cox or the university on whether the license has been officially terminated.

The 1993 licensing agreement between the BAA and the university gives the BAA permission to use the Baylor name. The license also extends to “The Baylor Line,” the official BAA magazine.

The agreement allows the university to control quality, meaning the university has the right to review the magazine before publication to ensure adherence to trademark policies.

The agreement does not, however, give the university editorial control over the BAA.

The agreement says the BAA’s independent voice is understood and positions taken by the BAA, even those contrary to Baylor administration or its Board of Regents, are not to be used by the university as grounds for termination. 

Barry said not passing the Transition Agreement could lead to litigation between Baylor and the BAA, as the Lariat previously reported.

“It will be expensive, and it will damage the Baylor brand,” Barry said.

Though the agreement was not approved, Starr said he was still happy to see so many alumni vote to unite the BAA with the university.

“We are thankful that the majority of BAA voters supported the Transition Agreement which was also endorsed by the Association’s leadership,” he said.

Bette McCall Miller, a lifetime member of the BAA and the daughter of former Baylor President Abner McCall, said Saturday’s vote was not representative of the BAA majority. She said most of the alumni who voted are Waco residents who were more influenced by propaganda to vote yes.

“This vote cannot reflect what the whole organization thinks,” she said. “Its not a fair sampling.”