By Rae Jefferson
The future of the Baylor Alumni Association may soon be clear.
The BAA board of directors will meet at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Galloway Suite at Floyd Casey Stadium to discuss the possibility of refocusing the association’s mission.
Chad Wooten, the BAA’s chief operating officer, said attending members will be permitted to voice opinions about the BAA’s future in wake of Baylor University’s decision to terminate all existing agreements with the BAA on May 31, 2013.
“We have invited all of our members to come so they can share their opinions,” Wooten said. “There are a lot of different options on the table right now.”
The termination agreements rescinded the BAA’s permission to use the “Baylor” name in the group’s title and in the name of its official magazine, The Baylor Line. A 90-day extension between Baylor and the BAA, which allowed the association time to cease all usage of the “Baylor” name, expired Dec. 7.
The BAA still has plans to publish the winter 2014 issue of the Baylor Line magazine in February, Wooten said.
“We’ll publish this one and then see where it goes from there,” he said.
Baylor has not expressed any intentions of taking legal actions against the BAA for not yet suspending its use of the “Baylor” name, Wooten said.
“It’s obviously a possibility, but we’re focusing on doing our work,” Wooten said.
The decision to change the name of the association, due to the termination agreement, is likely to be discussed, Wooten said.
This termination was in response to the BAA’s decision, through an association-wide vote, to remain an independent entity instead of merging with the university. According to BAA bylaws, a vote to dissolve the association required a two-thirds majority. There were 1,499 votes cast at the Sept. 7 meeting. There were 830 yes votes and 668 no votes. One vote was thrown out for being in favor of both yes and no.
In order for the agreement to pass, 1,000 yes votes were needed.
“Distinctive among alumni organizations at private universities, the BAA has a tradition of independence as a self-governing organization that has allowed us to serve Baylor University with integrity and loyalty for over 150 years,” BAA President George Cowden III wrote in an email to members.
Some members have also discussed expanding the association’s mission to include awarding scholarships to current students, wrote Wooten.
Wooten said the BAA has taken great strides to preserve a democratic approach to decision-making within the association.
“We have 17,000 different members, and we have 17,000 different opinions,” Wooten said. “That’s part of the beauty of it — it is a democratic organization.”
This emphasis placed on voting processes is what ushered in the association’s new implementation of remote voting last December, which will allow members not in attendance to still participate in future association votes via the internet and mail services, Wooten said.
“If we ever get to the point of having another membership vote, everybody will be able to participate, as opposed to what happened on September 7,” Wooten said, referring to the organization’s most recent association-wide vote.
The Sept. 7 vote, which determined whether the BAA would remain an independent organization from Baylor, occurred when the BAA did not yet offer remote voting, restricting votes to members only present in Waco.
“I feel like at the last vote that we were not in a position to include obviously tens of thousands or maybe just 10,000 voters and I regretted that because I wanted to hear more from the members on the subject being proposed,” Cowden said after the BAA’s bylaws were amended to allow remote voting. “This, I think, addresses that.”
Lori Fogleman, Baylor’s assistant vice president for media communications, said the university has taken notice of the BAA’s bureaucratic changes.
“We are encouraged that the association is contemporized with their voting procedures,” she said.
Wooten said despite the turbulence associated with the BAA and Baylor’s relationship last semester, the association will continue to function normally.
“As it stands right now, we will continue with business as usual,” he said. “We’ll keep meeting the needs of alumni the best we can.”
Fogleman echoed these sentiments, and said Baylor will “move forward” with its own plans for a Baylor alumni community.
“We remain hopeful regarding the ultimate resolution of the association,” Fogleman said.