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Parties hope regent committees resolve conflicts

Sept. 17, 2003

By Elvia Aguilar, reporter

Members of the Baylor Alumni Association and faculty senate said they hope three committees appointed by the Baylor Board of Regents prove to be a step in the right direction.

'We are encouraged that the regents are playing a more active role in setting meetings to discuss issues and concerns,' Fred Norton, Baylor Alumni Association president, said. 'One of the issues that lies at the root of matters that have divided us in the past is a lack of communication, and I am glad that they are willing to listen.'

Three review committees were appointed by the board of regents on Friday to evaluate specific concerns raised by university constituents at the faculty senate vote. Regents constitute the membership of the committees.

Drayton McLane Jr., chairman of the board of regents, said the committees would investigate various topics, including faculty relations, hiring practices, tuition and the relationship with the Baylor Alumni Association, to make sure the regents are fulfilling the commitments represented in the cooperation agreement signed in May.

Regents also will investigate the school's finances as well as the board's conflict of interest policy. Critics have argued that Baylor regents owe business or personal allegiances to President Robert B. Sloan Jr.

Some of the regents in the committees include Jim Turner, president of Dr Pepper/Seven Up Bottling Group Inc. whose company services Baylor, and Wes Bailey, president of Bailey Insurance and Financial Services, which serves as Baylor's financial broker.

Dale Jones, audit review committee chairman, said they will closely examine the board's current conflict of interest policy to address these concerns and also will look at the airplane usage policy that currently exists.

'We will not have preconceived ideas of things that need to be changed or kept the same before our examinations,' Jones said.

The special regent review committee composed of nine regents have begun making preparations to meet with some of the members of faculty senate and the Baylor Alumni Association to 'get to the heart of issues and concerns raised recently,' McLane said.

Will Davis, chair of the special regent review committee, said he hopes the committee is able to make recommendations that will improve the relationships between faculty and the alumni association.

'We are very willing to meet with everyone to make sure their voices are heard,' Davis said.

Faculty senate member and secretary, Dr. Eric Rust, said he hopes the committee members will make an honest examination of the faculty senate's concerns.

'I am not sure what the procedures for the interviews will be and whether administration will be present at them or not,' Rust said. 'The fact that we are talking and every side is gearing up for an honest exchange of views is a step in the right direction.'

Faculty senate immediate past chairman, Dr. Charles Weaver, said the faculty senate would approach the interviews in good faith.

'We are glad they want to listen to our concerns and we hope much is accomplished,' Weaver said.

Joe Armes, who was appointed to the legal issues committee, said they would examine pending litigation. He said their committee might take the longest to present recommendations because most of the cases will not be resolved for at least a year.

The committees do not have a deadline to present their recommendations but hope to share some of their findings at the next board of regents meeting in about four weeks.

Susie Jaynes, president-elect of the Baylor Alumni Association, said she would remain hopeful that issues are addressed.

'I am an optimist at heart, so the fact we are trying to set up a committee to strengthen the relationships that have caused anger and frustration in the past is great,' Jaynes said. 'The welfare of Baylor is at stake and I am sure that matters to all of us.'