ASeptember proposal by Baylor University leaders to the Board of Directors of the Baylor Alumni Association (BAA) that invited the association to become fully part of an integrated alumni relations office within the University was formally withdrawn in late October following a series of public comments from BAA officers voicing strong support for continued independence.
"[In the more than six weeks since the proposal was presented,] we have not seen a single instance in which you have publicly discussed the merits of the proposal directly and the impact it could have enhancing national alumni relations at Baylor," wrote Interim University President Dr. David E. Garland and Board of Regents Chair Dary Stone, JD '77, in a letter to the BAA president and executive director dated October 27.
Noting the public statements of the BAA's officers, the BAA's focus during its Homecoming meeting on the launch of a five-year plan based upon BAA independence, and the lack of any direct response from the BAA regarding the proposal, Garland and Stone wrote, "All of these activities present a clear message that our proposal, though made in good faith, is effectively and de facto declined by the BAA."
The original proposal was presented during the BAA board meeting on September 19. Based upon a thorough analysis of best practices in alumni relations nationally, it asked the BAA to discontinue its independent 501(C)(3) status and join the University in creating a strong in-house alumni relations effort. Members of the BAA staff would have had the opportunity to become employees of the University with the same benefits as all other Baylor employees. With official standing within the University, the BAA also would have had a recognized voice in decisions impacting Baylor. (The proposal and the letter describing its withdrawal can be read online at baylor.edu/alumni.)
"We want to move forward in the best interests of Baylor, which we believe involves having Baylor's alumni activities as part of the University itself, rather than an independent entity," said Garland and Stone in the proposal. "We should speak with a united voice in support of Baylor's mission, challenges and opportunities, and accomplishments."
"National surveys of Baylor alumni show that graduates are proud of the University and favorable of the direction in which it is heading. Alumni want an association that will demonstrate in its work a love for and commitment to helping Baylor move forward and one that will provide alumni opportunities to participate in the University's progress," said Baylor Regent Bob Beauchamp, who presented the proposal at the BAA board meeting.
"We are blessed to have wonderful and supportive alumni," Garland and Stone wrote in September. "We believe they are ready, willing and able to become more involved in Baylor's future if we can reach them more effectively and provide to them the infrastructure that will permit them to participate in a more meaningful way in the life of the University."
Writing in the letter in which they withdrew the original proposal, Garland and Stone expressed disappointment that the BAA would not be working with the University to enhance national alumni relations.
"It is unfortunate that [the BAA] will not be joining the University's efforts to ramp up alumni relations at Baylor," the letter read. "If, in the future, the BAA wishes to explore the possibility of becoming part of a robust in-house alumni relations program within the University, we will be pleased to consider that possibility at [their] request."
Baylor will continue its efforts to better connect to and serve the University's 140,000 alumni around the world. In the past year, the Baylor Network has held over 500 events across more than 100 cities in 25 states. Internationally, the new Global Network has anchors in China, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, UK, Netherlands and Belgium. Over 120,000 households receive Baylor Magazine four times a year; countless others remain connected to Baylor through online methods, ranging from the Baylor Proud blog and e-mail to Facebook and Twitter.
"In the same way that the new Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative will exponentially improve our research and engineering efforts [see page 18 for details], a focused and enhanced alumni relations program will allow us to better reach and serve Baylor graduates, wherever they may be," Garland said.