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Baylor hopes to attract Chelsea Clinton

Sept. 13, 1996

Courtesy photoWith close ties to the Clintons, Kay Mueller, professor of sociology, can be an important link in efforts to recruit Chelsea Clinton.

By Neal Suit

Lariat Reporter

The University actively recruits students from all over the country but currently is focusing on a resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington, D.C.

Chelsea Clinton, the only child of the first family and a high school junior, might at first seem a strange fit for Baylor, but consider the connections the Clintons have to Waco and the Baylor community.

Donna Nafe, the cousin of Bill Clinton, lives in Waco. Kay Mueller, a professor of sociology at Baylor, is a personal friend of the Clintons. Bernard Rapoport, a Waco resident and successful businessman, is a long-time friend of the first family. Dr. Brian Harbour, a member of the Baylor Board of Regents, was the pastor for President Clinton in Little Rock.

On Sept. 5, Mueller attended the Women's Leadership Forum of the Democratic National Committee and a banquet held prior to the forum for invited guests only. The special guest was Hillary Clinton. Former governor and Baylor alumna Ann Richards and former first lady Ladybird Johnson were also in attendance.

Mueller took with her to the banquet a special friendship package prepared by the recruiting office at Baylor to give to Chelsea Clinton.

'It is a little more than we normally put into a recruiting effort,' said Stan Madden, vice-president for university marketing. 'We included a Round Up and a [teddy] bear in addition to the regular recruiting package.'

Mueller gave the package to Hillary Clinton and talked with her about considering Baylor as a college choice for Chelsea. Other items included in the package were a Baylor mug; a letter to the Clinton family from Teri Tippit, University director of recruitment; and two letters from Mueller, one to Chelsea Clinton and one to the first family.

'In my letter to both Chelsea and the first family, I used the phrase 'it takes a village to raise a child,' and it takes a village to educate a child and Baylor wants to be that village,' she said.

Mueller has known the Clintons since 1972 when they stayed at Mueller's house in Waco. The Clintons were working for the presidential campaign of George McGovern, and Bill Clinton was in charge of the Texas campaign. Opening her house to the Clintons opened a friendship between Mueller and the Clintons.

'I think Baylor's a great place for her,' Mueller said. 'I know [Bill Clinton] feels very strongly about his Baptist heritage.'

Mueller said she felt very good about her meeting with Hillary Clinton. The teddy bear brought as a gift to Chelsea made an especially big hit, she said.

'Even Ann Richards went, 'Go Bears' [when the bear was shown],' Mueller said.

Mueller said she plans to continue to pursue the possibility of Chelsea attending Baylor.

'I will send a Thanksgiving card to Chelsea,' Mueller said. 'Hillary assured me Chelsea would respond personally. I should also see Chelsea on election night.'

Even with the ties to Baylor that the Clintons have, it still may seem strange that the Clintons would consider a school with Baylor's conservative reputation. Mueller said she is aware of that but does not think that is a major issue.

'I think the major issues will be: will she fit? Will she be safe?' Mueller said. 'Is there a genuine care, love and concern for her as a human being? I know the faculty could respond unanimously yes, and I am pretty sure the student body could also. The professors here are outstanding and very receptive to the diversity of the student body.'

If the University were to land such a high profile student, the publicity could create security problems.

'[We] would have to create a network of safety without being obtrusive,' Madden said. 'We talked about how we have done this in the past for children of dignitaries.'

Secret Service agents would be assigned to Chelsea, but specifics were unavailable since the White House was unavailable for comment.

Assessing the chances of Chelsea Clinton attending Baylor, Mueller said, 'At least I know we're a thought.'

Harbour, now pastor at First Baptist Church in Richardson, said he has mentioned to Bill Clinton twice the idea of Chelsea Clinton attending Baylor.

'The first time he said...Chelsea was considering several options,' Harbour said. 'In a more recent letter, I just let him know that Baylor was still interested, and the time [for Chelsea's decision] was fast approaching.'

Madden said he was optimistic on Baylor's chances.

'In past years, we've had [children of] dignitaries from all over the world, so why not?' he said.

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