Wednesday, October 7, 2009

My letter to the Alumni Association

I appreciate the thought that went into the letter sent out by Mr. Lacey. I understand this issue and the difficulties it presents. I have no doubt that the BAA has Baylor's best interests at heart. However, I do hope that the BAA is seriously considering this measure.

When I became a life member upon graduation, I was proud. I assumed two things would result from my membership and the very existence of the BAA. First, I thought the BAA supported the university financially. Second, I thought there would be ways to support Baylor locally where I am through the BAA. It had NOTHING to do with an independent voice. Honestly, like many, I assumed the BAA was a part of the university.

What I found was that during the early years after graduation, when giving more wasn't really an option, the only thing I got out of membership was a magazine and lots of offers for a BAA credit card. Are credit cards really the most responsible thing to offer young alumni? I never heard of events in my area. In fact the only events I heard of were the extremely pricey travels that BAA organized. Not the best for the most numerous group of alumni, the under 30 set.

Then, I was hired by the Baylor Network to engage young grads. I realized soon that the money was going the wrong way, from the university to the BAA. That doesn't make sense. I would venture to guess that when the vast majority hear ads saying that the BAA has been supporting the university for 150 years, they assume that is direct financial support. The BAA doesn't say "cheering on the university," or "holding the university accountable." It says, "supporting." I believe that is misleading.

Another misleading communication found specifically in Mr. Lacey's letter is that the university took BAA staff to form the Network. I continue to be baffled by this. Those staff positions were funded by the university while at the association. They were hired by the university. The BAA resented thembeing in the building. President Sloan soon realized that any alumni outreach would be better done directly under the umbrella of the university. So, he moved UNIVERSITY FUNDED STAFF AND PROGRAMMING back to the university. Also, the BAA was one of the loudest voices for the removal of Sloan. It should be noted that no president has raised that money going in the wrong direction, from Baylor to the BAA more than President Sloan. I don't know if he needed to go, but he was no enemy of the BAA. Neither are the Regents or current administration. There is no conspiracy. This idea has been talked about OPENLY for years. And finally, why does Baylor need this independent voice more than any other private university in the country?

I have no idea if you are still reading, but I will add one parting thought. I was part of a dying church at one point in my life. Many proposals were brought forth to the congregation to seek new purpose, new direction, partner with other churches, etc. These ideas were brought by people who had a heart for God, that church and the community where the church was located. But what it really came down to in the end was that those who had been there the longest did not want to let go of their idea of what that church had always been. Nobody was willing to accept the imminent death of that limb of the Body of Christ. But even without their acceptance, it happened.

There is a season for everything. 150 years is a very long season. Regardless of what decision the BAA makes, you have had a wonderful season thus far.

God Bless,
Kendall Cockrell
BA 1998, JD 2009

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