Seeking clarity

November 26, 2007
Baylor's founders envisioned a university that would "fully meet" the educational needs of the day, while being "fully susceptible of enlargement and development to meet the needs of all ages to come." Today, Baylor students continue to reap the benefits of such foresight, attending a university committed to providing the best education possible across a range of nationally recognized programs, utilizing state-of-the-art facilities, and taught by caring faculty in a community of faith. The degree to which that success continues depends heavily on a continued commitment and willingness to examine the programs and services that the University provides to see where improvements can be made. It is with that in mind that Baylor officials are examining every area of University life, including its relationship with its cherished alumni. The Board of Regents and President John M. Lilley have engaged the Baylor Alumni Association in a dialog concerning the delivery of alumni programs, Baylor 2012 and the nature of the relationship between the Alumni Association and the University. Lilley--a lifetime member of the Baylor Alumni Association and a member of the Torchbearers Society--met with BAA leadership in October to discuss the situation and to encourage the entire Baylor family to "work together every day to make Baylor better." In order to provide some background, we have included answers to a few questions concerning the ongoing discussion.

What is the relationship between Baylor and the BAA?
Baylor University acknowledges and celebrates the historic role of the Baylor Alumni Association as defined by its Constitution and Bylaws:

"The purpose of the Association is to provide the support of benevolent, charitable, and educational undertakings by extending financial and other aid to Baylor University and to students thereof, by generally encouraging sentiments favorable to education and by promoting union of and good fellowship among former students and friends of Baylor University; to coordinate all alumni activities; to serve the general alumni organization of Baylor University; and to maintain the administrative agency and executive personnel needed to provide for a continuity of alumni activity, interest and financial support of Baylor University."

That being said, Baylor University and the Baylor Alumni Assocation are separate and independent legal entities organized as nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organizations. While the Regents have re-affirmed the independence and the official standing of the Alumni Association at Baylor, the terms of that independence are not as clear as they could be. In light of this, the Regents have asked President John M. Lilley to work with the BAA to clarify the relationship.
Baylor University licenses the Alumni Association to use the Baylor name. Under that license agreement, Baylor University retains the right to inspect the quality of the services and products provided by the Alumni Association.
Currently, the University also has a services agreement with the Alumni Association by which the University provides financial support to the Alumni Association in exchange for the Alumni Association providing certain services. Consistent with the agreement, this contract will expire in March 2008.

What have the Regents asked of the BAA?
In May 2007, the Regents unanimously endorsed five commitments that they believe should characterize the relationship between Baylor and the BAA. The specific language is as follows:
"The Regents recognize the common interest of Baylor and the Baylor Alumni Association in promoting the best interests of Baylor University. Baylor and the BAA should publicly and jointly express their commitment to:

  • achieving the goals of 2012;
  • the independence of the BAA;
  • the maintenance of a harmonious relationship between Baylor and the BAA;
  • the furtherance of the mission and historic Baptist heritage of Baylor University; and
  • championing Baylor's Christian environment with educational excellence."

Why is the Board of Regents seeking this endorsement now?
The University is moving forward on multiple fronts as it prepares to launch a major fundraising campaign, and both the President and Regents believe it an important and appropriate time for the University and the BAA to acknowledge jointly and publicly their commitments to one another. This means a public acknowledgement on the part of University leadership of the value of an independent alumni association as well as a clear expression by the leadership of the BAA that they are supportive of the University's mission and vision and want to support it in a harmonious relationship in achieving Baylor's most significant goals and objectives as outlined in Baylor 2012.

Why is the University terminating the fee-for-services agreement with the BAA?
The request that the Alumni Association be financially independent has been made by a number of Baylor University presidents, going back at least as far as Abner McCall. Consistent with that history, in the fall of 2006 President Lilley informed the Executive Director of the BAA that the current three-year, fee-for-service agreement would not be renewed in its current form when the contract expires in March 2008.
It is the stated role of the Association to provide programmatic and financial support to Baylor. It is not Baylor's role to support financially the Alumni Association. The University expects that the current Alumni Association fundraising campaign will give them the ability to be financially independent, as they have publicly desired. In order to assist in that success, President Lilley has endorsed the current Sesquicentennial Campaign of the Baylor Alumni Association.

Does the Board of Regents support the independent voice of the Baylor Alumni Association?
Yes. The board has unanimously re-affirmed the independence of the Baylor Alumni Association. It has endeavored to work with the BAA to help it achieve the financial independence to match the independence of its editorial voice.

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