Dear Baylor Nation:
June 1 marked the beginning of my fourth year of service to Baylor University. I remain deeply honored -- and humbled -- to have been entrusted with this important responsibility. For the countless words of encouragement from so many members of Baylor Nation, my gratitude knows no bounds.
The light that shines on Baylor is bright indeed. The entire University is deeply grateful for the surge of immensely helpful financial support for our student scholarship, academic and athletic programs. Last week's announcement of the historically generous gift by our alumnus Paul Foster to support the new School of Business campus, as well as Baylor Stadium, is the most recent example of this soaring spirit of generosity. Then, at spring commencement just a few weeks ago, we bade farewell and Godspeed to more than 2,200 new Baylor graduates. Like those who have gone before, our most recent alumni depart campus to pursue their callings and to help serve a hurting world. We know they will represent us proudly in the years to come.
Today, allow me to share the good news of another important milestone for Baylor Nation -- an historic agreement between the leadership of Baylor University and the leadership of the independent Baylor Alumni Association. We have come together and agreed to fashion a single, comprehensive, university-based alumni engagement program. Unanimously supported by the Baylor Board of Regents and the Baylor Alumni Association Executive Board, this historic agreement will be brought forward this coming fall to receive the blessing of the Baylor Alumni Association's full membership.
Let me briefly describe how this happened: Over the course of the past ten months, University representatives have engaged in active discussion with representatives of the Baylor Alumni Association in the desire to unify Baylor's alumni outreach and engagement. The University's efforts have been led by Richard Willis, Chairman of the Board of Regents, along with regents Joel Allison and Ron Murff; those representing the Alumni Association in these thoughtful conversations have been Judge Elizabeth Coker, Immediate Past President of the BAA board; Collin Cox, President; and board members Si Ragsdale and Kyle Gilley. In the course of coming to agreement, these two teams of servant-leaders have met face-to-face more than a half-dozen times; they have exchanged literally dozens of e-mails as they addressed a variety of issues.
This much-needed advancement will allow us to couple many of the BAA's honored traditions with the multitude of programs sponsored by the flourishing Baylor Alumni Network; the Network's wide-ranging programs engage alumni worldwide. Indeed, last year alone, the Baylor Alumni Network, with its more than 600 volunteers, held nearly 850 events in 150 unique locations worldwide. More than 35,000 Baylor alumni and friends participated. Spread across the globe, Baylor's loyal alumni deserve a robust alumni network that is part and parcel of the University itself.
With the help of all Baylor alumni, including those who have faithfully supported the Baylor Alumni Association, our University is poised to build a single, comprehensive, nationally-focused and university-based alumni outreach program. This important development embodies an essential step in the maturation of the University's array of services and programs for Baylor alumni. In addition, the newly constituted Baylor Line Corporation will continue to produce independently the Baylor Line Magazine, which will be available to subscribers, while the University will continue to publish the Baylor Magazine as a service to all alumni.
Let me add an important fact: While this unifying agreement was under active discussion, a similar agreement was successfully negotiated to integrate into the University's structure Baylor's honored alumni-letter winners, the previously-independent Baylor "B" Association. While this agreement must also be approved by the full membership of the "B" Association, we are thankful for the spirit of cooperation that now promises to bring the "B" Association fully into the University's structure.
In only 15 months, our alumni will gather to cheer on the Baylor Bears at the new Baylor Football Stadium. Happily, construction remains on schedule. That project will require removal of the Hughes-Dillard Center this summer in order to make way for the approach to the stadium via the Umphrey Bridge for pedestrians. As with other significant campus construction and expansion projects, we will take every measure to preserve, relocate, or recreate the symbols of honor and recognition currently located at Hughes-Dillard. In this regard, plans for developing a new alumni space are under active consideration.
And so this remarkable season in Baylor's treasured history continues apace. As we remain steadfast in our efforts to build this beloved institution, we give thanks to God for the abundant and plentiful blessings showered upon Baylor University and the ever-growing Baylor family.
With profound appreciation for our three action-packed years of working and serving together,