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Dean boots gay member from board

Nov. 4, 2005

by ANALIZ GONZALEZ, staff writer

The dean of the Hankamer School of Business dismissed a five-year member of the school's advisory board after discovering the Baylor alumnus is gay.

Dr. Terry Maness asked Tim Smith to step down Sept. 12. Smith was serving his fifth year on the board and had two years remaining in his second term.

His departure leaves one vacancy on the 36-member board, which has provided advice on strategic planning, vision, programs and curriculum for 25 years.

Smith said he thinks Maness learned of his sexual orientation from a professor who knew Smith moved from Dallas to South Carolina to be with his partner of four years. Smith said moving further from Waco wouldn't have affected his attendance at biannual board meetings.

In a statement to the Baylor Lariat, Maness said he asked Smith to step down because of his "alternative lifestyle."

"We must be sensitive to the position of our affiliated denomination, the Baptist General Convention of Texas, which has, on previous occasions, stated that a homosexual lifestyle is incompatible with most Baptist interpretations of Scripture," Maness said.

Maness sent an e-mail to Smith on Sept. 26, saying he understood Smith's disappointment in the decision and that feelings of hurt or disrespect were unintended.

"I certainly meant no disrespect to you by not discussing this with you prior to reaching my decision," he wrote. " I do apologize for that, and I will certainly honor your request in presenting the circumstances with respect to your departure from the board."

Smith received a bachelor's degree from Baylor in 1983 and a master's degree from Harvard Business School in 1989.

He said he's contributed more than $65,000 to Baylor and raised more than $60,000 to establish the Al and Jan Myers Endowment Academic Scholarship at Baylor. Smith said the university should modernize its policies.

"Corporations around America have implemented nondiscrimination policies, and Baylor should be leading away in issues like this, not lagging woefully behind corporate America," Smith said.

He also said Baylor is doing a disservice to students, faculty and alumni by discriminating.

"To openly discriminate against individuals on the basis of sexual orientation and to do so in the name of God is simply shameful," Smith said. "The Pharisees would be proud."

According to Baylor's employment policies, the university complies with all federal and state nondiscrimination laws.

The policies, however, state that Baylor is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and operates within "Christian-oriented aims and ideals of Baptists."

Baylor spokesman Larry Brumley declined to comment, but said the university's nondiscrimination statement on employment doesn't refer to sexual orientation. He added that even if it did, Smith was a volunteer, not an employee.

Interim President William D. Underwood said he could not comment because he was unaware of Smith's removal.