I am writing in support of the recommendation of the BAA Executive Committee concerning the future of the Baylor Alumni Association.
I was president of the association at the time of the Baylor charter change in 1990, one of the most momentous periods in the history of the university. That was also the first year that I served on the Baylor Board of Trustees (changed the following year to the Baylor Board of Regents). The day after the charter change was adopted by the Board of Trustees, the BAA Board of Directors approved an independent statement of support for the Trustees and the university.
In the Fall of 1991, following a year of negotiations between the university and the Baptist General Convention of Texas, the BGCT annual meeting was held in Waco at the Ferrell Center. More than 10,000 messengers (by far the largest number in the history of the BGCT) debated and then approved a new relationship between Baylor and the BGCT, which has stood both institutions in good stead through today.
Change was necessary then because of the environment in which the university found itself. That change, while traumatic and not without controversy, was the right decision for the Baylor family and the future course of the university.
The Baylor Alumni Association is now faced with a similar choice. The purpose of the association is to serve Baylor by serving Baylor alumni, and to act as an alumni voice to the university. Given the environment that now exists, and the resources that are now available, what is the best way to carry out the mission of the association?
Although I have not seen a draft of the final documentation, I believe that the proposal as outlined in President Cox's letter and the communication sent by President Starr this week preserves the mission of the association by maintaining an independent alumni voice, while maximizing the relationship with all Baylor alumni through the combined resources of the university and the association.
Yes, the Baylor Alumni Association will cease to be a legal entity. It will, however, remain a vital part of the history of Baylor University, and will live on in the combined efforts of the university and the new Baylor Line Corporation.
In your most recent Baylor Magazine, the spring 2013 issue, on page 16 in "How Extraordinary the Stories" you published a story about one of your students. As a part of the story you wrote "Being a non-Muslim in a Muslim country she was denied entrance to Iranian universities." This blatant misrepresentation of facts about Iran and Muslims is appalling coming from a reputable educational institution. One of my children and many friends have attended Baylor. You have many Muslim professors and students that are alumni of Baylor.
Iran has hundreds of universities and hundreds of thousands of students entering each year. High school graduates that pass the entrance exams are allowed to enter the universities without a religious litmus test. There are many qualified non-Muslims attending the Iranian universities at any given point in time.
This false statement is an affront to Iranians, Muslim nations and more than 1.5 Billion Muslims in our world. At a time when anti Islam innuendoes are rampant, the educational institutions, especially one with Baylor's reputation is expected to be a counter force to such bigotry and propaganda.
After consulting the student whose story was featured in the scholarship advertorial, we have confirmed that the ad accurately reflects her personal experience. While not all non-Muslims are refused entrance into Iranian universities, these were the circumstances surrounding this student's interview and admittance process.
Regrettably, the language we chose too broadly suggested that all non-Muslims are denied entrance into Iranian universities. That is not the case, nor was it our intent to misrepresent the facts. The purpose of the ad was to celebrate the accomplishments of one student and her success in overcoming significant obstacles to her educational pursuits.
I am a former Waco resident and lifelong Baylor fan. My father played for the Bears in 1948-51, and my first home was in one of the post-World War II constructed "homettes" on the Baylor campus. I recently have been visiting my parents here in Waco, and in the process we've been going through an all-too-large collection of family relics. In that excavation I've found one item I think is of particular interest - a football program from the inaugural game played in Baylor Stadium (Floyd Casey) - the Bears vs. Houston, Sept. 30, 1950 (pictured). To me it is a glimpse of a benchmark event paralleling the coming completion of the new on-campus stadium.
Speaking with my father about that 1950 season, he has told me that the new field was a matter of great interest to Baylor players and fans. Some athletes worked at jobs directly connected to the construction of the stadium, and many people followed the daily progress of the building process. At that time the fields surrounding the site were largely open pastures, with the stadium's concrete bowl rising like some ancient stone monument. Generations of Baylor players came to love the below-ground-level playing field, and Floyd Casey remains a wonderfully intimate stadium in which to see a game. I'll not forget.