Baylor Alumni
Baylor Alumni
Oct 14 2014
Litigation Update: Rejection of BAA Settlement Offer

Litigation Update: Rejection of BAA Settlement Offer

Keith Starr, president of the Baylor Alumni Association (BAA) today issued the following statement regarding the Baylor University Board of Regents’ rejection of its final offer to settle the trademark infringement lawsuit brought by the university:

All of us involved with the Baylor Alumni Association love Baylor and want what’s best for the university.  That’s why we have tried everything imaginable to avoid a court battle with the Baylor Board of Regents.

In September, the BAA presented the university with one final proposal to resolve our differences.  This proposal had been pre-approved by the BAA Board of Directors and was ready to go to our membership for a vote.  Regrettably, we have learned that the Board of Regents has rejected this offer.

The BAA is extremely reluctant to be dragged into lengthy and costly litigation.  Nevertheless, we believe the Board of Regents’ claims are without merit.  We intend to defend ourselves vigorously — in court.”

 


Oct 9 2014
The BAA Legacy Scholarship: Jennifer Thomson’s Story

The BAA Legacy Scholarship: Jennifer Thomson’s Story

My mom always joked about brainwashing me growing up.  She showed me old pictures of her moving into Baylor, thrust her green and gold hoodies at me, and sat me down each Saturday in the fall to watch the Bears play football.  I heard “That Good ‘Ol Baylor Line” more times than our national anthem.  It was all enjoyable, but it didn’t mean much to me until my senior year of high school, when college suddenly became a reality and not just a means to escape the tiny town I grew up in.  My mom and I toured several other colleges, and she spent those tours pointing out the benefits each school offered.  I knew she would love for me to attend Baylor, but she wanted me to make up my own mind about what college to attend.  The schools were nice, but when I toured Baylor, I just knew.  This was my place to be.

Junior Jennifer Thomson '16 (far right), with her grandmother, Doris Hooks BBA  '49 and cousin, Dayna Wiesmann.

Junior Jennifer Thomson ’16 (far right), with her grandmother, Doris Hooks BBA ’49 and cousin, Dayna Wiesmann.

My mom, grandma, aunt and several other family members all attended Baylor.  They’ve etched themselves in the history of this school — literally.  You can find my family’s names on bricks across campus and in the business school.  There’s even an engraving of my great uncle in the Student Union.  Baylor has been an important part of my family’s lives for several generations, and graduating high school, it was suddenly my turn to continue the tradition.  But it didn’t feel like an obligation.  It felt like coming home.

I can’t picture being at any school but Baylor.  However, it’s no secret that tuition costs more than is polite to say.  My sister is in college at this time as well, and money’s been tight.  God always provides what we need, but every little bit helps.  It was such a blessing to receive the BAA Legacy Scholarship last year; it (enabled us) to buy a ticket for me so I could come home for Christmas.  That was really great.

I sincerely thank all of you who donated to make the scholarship possible.  Your generosity is just another reminder that family is more than bloodlines; it’s the Baylor Bubble and all who come with it.

Thank you and God bless,

Jennifer Thomson

The Baylor Alumni Association has distributed more than $212,000 to 55 deserving Baylor legacy students since 2011, including $27,000+ to 42 students for the fall semester of 2014.  In this segment of our continuing series, we bring you Jennifer Thomson’s story — in part to remind you how terrific — and appreciative — our current crop of Bears are, in part to rekindle some memories and bring a smile to your face, and in part to encourage you to contribute to this important program.  Your donation will help us continue to offer these scholarships — hopefully with larger amounts for these legacy students.  If you’d like to donate, please click here.


Oct 7 2014
Litigation Update from BAA President Keith Starr

Litigation Update from BAA President Keith Starr

This e-mail was sent to the BAA’s mailing list on Tuesday, Oct. 7,  from President Keith Starr:

Dear Fellow Baylor Alumni Association Member,

I want to update you on developments with the BAA.  In my last note in June, I let our members know that Baylor University had sued the BAA to stop the Association from using the University’s names and trademarks.  I also told you that after an initial review of the lawsuit, we believe that the Board of Regents’ claims were without merit, and we continue to strongly believe that is the case.  For your convenience, here is a link to my June e-mail.

Once Baylor sued the BAA, we were forced to evaluate our options.  Our discussions and decisions were based on: our commitment and loyalty to Baylor University and our reluctance to bring it negative publicity; our frustration with the University’s approach, which we feel was designed to silence an organization that has delivered outstanding programs and services to the University community for 155 years; and our belief that an independent voice is important to the Baylor family.

These values were important to past BAA and University leaders and we shouldn’t forget them now.  Our values of independence and loyalty continue to be important to our members, and we believe it would be wrong not to defend the BAA and attempt to have rational, reasonable discussions with University representatives.

We spent much of the summer engaged in what we believed to be positive negotiations with the Board of Regents to try to resolve our differences.  But as the summer months came to a close, the University tried to force a membership vote in direct conflict with the BAA’s constitution and bylaws.

We then submitted one final settlement proposal to the University that we thought was fair and reasonable based on the talks we were having with them.  The BAA Board even took the unprecedented step of pre-approving this proposal before we submitted it to the University, because we felt it was in the context of our ongoing discussions — or at least it was in the ballpark — and because the University had complained that we were moving too slowly to bring this matter to a successful conclusion.  The regents have now rejected this proposal.

We did not ask for Baylor to sue us, but once they did, we had to defend ourselves and present our rightful counterclaims.  Furthermore, it is central to the BAA’s values as an organization to hold others accountable, just as members of the Association you hold us accountable.

If you would like to read the lawsuit and the counterclaim, you can do so at these links.

Baylor Lawsuit

BAA Counterclaim

Thank you for your ongoing support for the BAA as a loyal, independent voice within the Baylor family.  We intend to keep you informed of major developments as we proceed forward.

With strong resolve,

Keith Starr

BAA President

 P.S.  We have recently started a new feature in Line Notes that introduces alumni to recent recipients of the BAA Legacy Scholarship ($27,000 to 42 students during the current semester).  We did not entertain new applications this academic year, but we plan to reopen our application process for the 2015-16 academic year.

I encourage you to take a look at their stories and consider donating to support outstanding students like Chase, Amy, and Micah (and the others we’ll be posting in the weeks to come).

 


Oct 2 2014
The BAA Legacy Scholarship: Chase Fickling’s Story

The BAA Legacy Scholarship: Chase Fickling’s Story

The Baylor Alumni Association has distributed more than $212,000 to 55 deserving Baylor legacy students since 2011, including $27,000+ to 42 students for the fall semester of 2014.  In this segment of a continuing series, we bring you Chase Fickling’s story — in part to remind you how terrific — and appreciative — our current crop of Bears are, in part to rekindle some memories and bring a smile to your face, and in part to encourage you to contribute to this important program.  Your donation will help us continue to offer these scholarships — hopefully with larger amounts for these legacy students.  If you’d like to donate, please click here.

My name is Chase Fickling, and I am in my senior year at Baylor.  Over the summer, I decided that my passion is for teaching younger students, and so I want to teach Beginning Strings at the elementary level.  I am preparing to student teach in the spring, and I am very excited because my music education professor has found several great districts that have excellent Beginning Strings programs.  I am very close to graduating and it seems kind of strange, but I am really excited to enter the workforce and do what I love every day — teaching.

Like many Music Education majors, I am in my fifth year at Baylor.  Unfortunately, I have experienced many physical challenges that made that necessary.  In the fall of 2009, I developed some pain and swelling in my arms.  The doctor I saw told me to (just) rest and ice my arms.  My third semester at Baylor, the pain in my arms became unbearable and I sought another opinion, which resulted in the correct diagnosis of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome…I ended up having two separate surgeries in which they removed the front side of my left and right first ribs in order to improve circulation in my arms and begin healing the nerve damage caused from lack of blood.

As a result of the surgeries and some complications, I was unable to take a class that only meets every fourth semester.  I needed six months of rehabilitation and another six months of playing violin and continued rehab before I was able to build up the strength and endurance to move back to playing my primary instrument, viola.  This left me needing an extra semester so I could fulfill my viola lesson degree requirement as well.  I am in Cello Methods and viola lessons this semester and they are going great.  I am now set to do my student teaching in the spring of 2015.

My fifth year at Baylor is allowing me more time to develop by fine-tuning my instrumental abilities and knowledge, honing my aural skills, and creating schedule space for more teaching experiences in places like the local Waco String Project.  I currently have a cumulative GPA of 3.95, and my dream job is to be a music educator.  I am grateful that my Baylor professors, faculty, and BAA have been so gracious by working with me to make this dream possible.  The Legacy Scholarship helped my family to feel more secure, by providing financial support, at a time where my future felt inhibited due to my diagnosis, surgeries, and recovery period.

Chase Fickling plays the viola with pianist Michael Womack in Jones Concert Hall last spring.

Chase Fickling plays the viola with pianist Michael    Womack in Jones Concert Hall last spring.

The recovery was long, but I am doing extremely well now.  I am playing in the Baylor Symphony Orchestra, Baylor’s Early Music Ensemble, and I also substitute in the Brazos Valley Symphony Orchestra, a semi-professional orchestra.  This November, I will give my senior recital featuring works by Flackton, Beethoven, Vieuxtemps, and Piazzolla, and will perform on viola with piano and harpsichord!

Two summers ago, I had an opportunity of a lifetime — studying abroad in Florence, Italy, for six weeks.  While in Italy, I got to know several of the local shop owners pretty well.  They would wave to me on the way to class and one of them even added me on Facebook. I took my third semester of Italian in Italy, and our teacher took us out into the city once a week to teach us something about Italian culture.  We went to the open market and one of the vendors let our class sample cheeses, bread, and cured hams.  I hiked in Cinque Terre (a group of five coastal towns) and swam in the Grotta Azzurra, which is part of the island of Capri.  I also met some great people from Florida who helped me see life from a different perspective.  My personality is very “what if,” and they are much more “go with the flow” kind of people, and they’ve helped me shape my perspective to a happy medium between responsible and relaxed. The Legacy Scholarship was not directly responsible for funding my study abroad program, but it definitely freed up some funds that made it possible.

I am having an amazing semester at Baylor.  My schedule is a little crazy but I’m glad because it’s keeping me busy and preparing me to student teach and start my career next year.  Contributions like the Legacy Scholarship allow me to pursue my dreams and I am grateful for all the doors and opportunities that it has opened during my time at Baylor.

All the best,

Chase G. Fickling


Sep 8 2014
BAA Board of Directors Votes to Submit Final Settlement Offer to Baylor University

BAA Board of Directors Votes to Submit Final Settlement Offer to Baylor University

The Baylor Alumni Association issued the following press release today, following its Sept. 6 Board of Directors meeting:

In Last Ditch Effort to Avoid Protracted Litigation
BAA Board of Directors Votes to Submit Final Settlement Offer to Baylor University

WACO, Texas (Sept. 8, 2014) – The Baylor Alumni Association (BAA) Board of Directors on Saturday, Sept 6, voted to submit a final settlement offer to the Baylor Board of Regents in a last-ditch effort to avoid protracted litigation with the university.

“We thought we had a framework that would work for both parties but the university has been reluctant to move forward,” BAA President Keith Starr said. “So we’ve decided to offer one final streamlined proposal.”
Details of the settlement offer remain confidential at this time pending a response by the Baylor Board of Regents.

“The BAA believes it is important for the entire Board of Regents to have an opportunity to proceed in a deliberative manner with regard to our settlement proposal with no outside influence,” Starr said. “We believe that is what is in the best interests of the entire Baylor family.”

The university sued the BAA on June 6, seeking to stop the 155-year-old alumni association from using its trademarks and from offering certain services to alumni. The university created an Office of Alumni Services and began publishing the Baylor Magazine in 2002, and has since restricted the alumni association’s access to member names, on-campus events, long-standing recognition programs, and university services, including its call center for membership drives.

“We believe that the Baylor Board of Regents does not have the right to unilaterally terminate long-standing, formal agreements that make the BAA the officially recognized alumni association on campus, and that the Regents’ effort to do so wrongfully undermines the association’s ability to function,” Starr said. “We have made every effort to find a way to resolve our differences, but if pressed, we intend to prevail if the case goes to trial.”

Starr said both parties spent much of the summer seeking to find a framework that will work for both parties.

“We are all gratified that Baylor President and Chancellor Ken Starr was an active participant in this summer’s meetings and that he appeared to support a settlement,” Starr said.

“The vote (Saturday) indicates that we want to settle without further pain,” Starr added. “We want to move toward a brighter future for all of us — united as the Baylor family.”

For more information about the ongoing issues between the BAA and Baylor University, please read the Spring 2014 issue of The Baylor Line, a BAA publication.


Aug 6 2014
Lawsuit Settlement Talks Between BAA, University Break Down

Lawsuit Settlement Talks Between BAA, University Break Down

We wanted to let you know the unfortunate news that working-level discussions with Baylor University to settle the lawsuit that the university filed against your alumni association have broken down.

“The Baylor Alumni Association and Baylor University spent the better part of the past month trying to resolve our legal dispute, said BAA President Keith Starr. “Unfortunately, it does not appear that our efforts are going to be successful at this time.”

The BAA has tried for several years to reach an agreement with the university that would enable the Association to preserve our name; the title of our Baylor Line magazine; and keep our commitment to thousands of Baylor alumni.

However, the university has chosen to continue its efforts to marginalize the Association, up to and including filing a lawsuit against its own officially recognized alumni association.

Despite its reluctance to be dragged into litigation, Starr said the BAA had no choice but to assert its legal rights and move forward in defense of the lawsuit, and has filed its answer and counterclaim in McLennan County District Court as required by Texas law.

The countersuit asserts that the university does not have the right to unilaterally terminate its longstanding agreements with the BAA, and that the Regents’ efforts to do so wrongfully undermines the Association’s ability to function.

Starr said Baylor Regents, through their attorneys, gave the Alumni Association until Sept. 6 to approve their latest settlement offer, the terms of which remain confidential.

Regrettably, the Regents rejected the BAA’s appeal for more time to adopt a set of revised bylaws — a process that requires approval by the BAA Board of Directors and adoption by two-thirds of its members.  Before any vote on amendments can take place. they must be included in a meeting notice published in the Baylor Line magazine.

“At the end of the day, our efforts at peace failed, and the timetable insisted on by the Regents was unworkable,” Starr said.  “Now we must reluctantly but resolutely defend the claims made against us and prosecute our counterclaims.”

 

 


Jun 16 2014
A Message from BAA President Keith Starr

A Message from BAA President Keith Starr

This was sent as an e-mail to members of the Baylor Alumni Association on June 16, 2014, following Baylor University’s filing of a lawsuit against the organization.

Dear Baylor Alumni Association Members:

As you may know, on June 6, Baylor University filed a lawsuit in state district court in McLennan County seeking to stop the Baylor Alumni Association (BAA) from using the Baylor name and trademarks. While we continue to carefully review the details, we believe the Board of Regents’ claims are without merit.

Needless to say, we are disappointed in this action by the University and its leadership, and we are extremely reluctant to be dragged into this litigation.

The BAA has tried for several years now to reach an agreement with the University that enables us to preserve our name; the title of our magazine, the Baylor Line; and keeps our commitment to thousands of Baylor alumni. However, the University has rejected our attempts at peace for over a decade and has chosen to continue its efforts to marginalize the BAA, up to and including suing its officially recognized alumni organization.

Your Executive Committee met on Thursday, June 12, to discuss these matters. Despite our reluctance, we are forced to resolutely – not defiantly – defend our rights, and oppose the University’s effort to silence the BAA, which has served as an independent yet supportive voice of Baylor alumni for more than 150 years.

Specifically, we do not believe the University, through its Board of Regents, has the right to unilaterally terminate its many agreements with the BAA, and their efforts to do so breach those agreements in at least the following material ways:

  • The BAA has the exclusive right to be called the Baylor Alumni Association and to call our magazine the Baylor Line.
  • The BAA has the right to provide a forum for alumni to ask questions and express views free of editorial control.
  • The BAA has the right to continue to act as an independent voice for our member alumni with respect to issues affecting our beloved University.
  • The BAA has the right to maintain its offices on the Baylor University campus.

In the next few weeks, the BAA will be forced to file compulsory counterclaims that, if successful, would nullify the allegations made in the lawsuit by the University. It is important for us to raise these allegations in a timely manner. Otherwise, we might be prohibited from raising them later in this litigation or in a different lawsuit.

To defend and represent the Association in this case, the BAA Executive Committee has retained the services of two highly respected Texas attorneys, Shannon Ratliff of Austin, and J.D. Pauerstein of San Antonio.

Mr. Ratliff, founder of the Ratliff Law Firm in Austin, is an icon of the Texas bar community. Consistently identified as a Texas Super Lawyer and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers nationwide, Mr. Ratliff’s civil litigation practice has included representation of corporations, both as plaintiffs and defendants, in a wide variety of matters including antitrust and complex commercial disputes. He has served as lead counsel for several Fortune 500 companies in matters with amounts in controversy ranging from millions to multi-billion dollars in damages. Earlier in his career, Mr. Ratliff served as an assistant to Lyndon Baines Johnson in his roles as Senate majority leader, Vice President, and ultimately President of the United States.

Mr. Pauerstein, a seasoned attorney and a partner in the law firm Rosenthal Pauerstein Sandoloski Agather in San Antonio, has prosecuted and defended a wide variety of matters on behalf of businesses and individuals over the past 30 years. His experience encompasses a range of business and commercial disputes, including breach of contract, fraud, unfair competition, antitrust, and deceptive trade practices matters; disputes between partners, shareholders, and other business and professional practice owners; and disputes involving intellectual property issues, including rights in trademarks, trade secrets and patents.

While we did not ask for this battle, the BAA intends to prevail in this litigation. We sincerely appreciate the support we have been getting from our members. We have already received significant monetary pledges to help cover the legal fees associated with the litigation. It is our goal that none of the Association’s endowment will be used to pay the costs incurred in this lawsuit, and these pledges are the first steps to accomplishing this goal.

In addition, your posts on Facebook, online discussion boards, phone calls and emails have strengthened our resolve to maintain the BAA as an independent voice for Baylor alumni. Should you know of other alumni who feel as we do, we’d love to have them join our cause by contacting us by email at baylorline@bayloralumniassociation.com or by phone at 1-888-710-1859.

Again, thank you for your support.

Sincerely,

Keith Starr
2014-2015 President
Board of Directors
Baylor Alumni Association


Jun 11 2014
BAA Statement Regarding University’s Lawsuit Against Association

BAA Statement Regarding University’s Lawsuit Against Association

Baylor Alumni Association (BAA) President Keith Starr today issued the following statement in response to a lawsuit filed against the Association by Baylor University:

“We are disappointed that Baylor University has elected to file a lawsuit against the Baylor Alumni Association.

“We have tried for several years now to reach an agreement with the University that enables us to preserve our name; the title of our magazine, The Baylor Line; and keeps our commitment to thousands of Baylor alumni.  However, the University has rejected our attempts at peace for over a decade and has chosen to continue its efforts to marginalize the BAA, up to and including suing its officially recognized alumni association.

“The BAA now will defend its legal rights, present its counterclaims, and oppose Baylor University’s relentless effort to silence the Association, which has served as an independent yet supportive voice of Baylor alumni for more than 150 years.”


Jun 2 2014
New Members Elected to BAA Board of Directors

New Members Elected to BAA Board of Directors

The Baylor Alumni Association (BAA) today announced the election of 10 members to its Board of Directors.  Keith Starr (’83) was elected to a one-year term as president of the alumni association.

“On behalf of the BAA, I am pleased to welcome these new and returning members to the board who will guide the organization as we chart our future course,” Starr said.  “As an independent voice for Baylor University’s alumni, the BAA’s commitment is, and always has been, the advancement of Baylor University.  Our ideals can only be achieved through the collective efforts of leaders like these who are committed to realizing the BAA’s mission and goals.”

In addition to Starr, the BAA’s newly elected officers are:

  • James Nelson, III (’04) — Treasurer
  • Emily George Tinsley (’61) — Secretary

Newly elected board members:

  • Sharon McDonald Barnes (’78, ’80)
  • Babs Baugh (’64)
  • Matt Miller (’57)
  • Jim Nelson (’68, JD ’75)
  • Stan Schlueter (’69)
  • Stacy Sharp (’76)
  • L. Wayne Tucker (’85, MBA ’86)

A full list of board members can be found here.

Directors on the BAA board serve three-year terms, and are elected by the membership.  These terms are effective as of June 1, 2014.

In other business, the board of directors recommended, and the members approved, a thoughtful, deliberative, and inclusive process to chart the future course of the BAA.

Among the options under consideration:

  • Adopt the awarding of financial assistance to Baylor students as the primary function of the organization.
  • Adopt communications with members as the primary function of the organization; or
  • Adopt both communication with members and awarding of financial assistance to Baylor students as the primary functions of the organization.

According to Starr, the BAA has worked diligently in the last few months to improve transparency with all members and has amended the association’s bylaws to give members the flexibility to vote electronically on certain BAA matters, in addition to BAA’s longstanding practice of in-person voting at meetings.

“We plan to have an open, inclusive dialogue over the summer about the options outlined today, which will prepare the membership to decide this fall on the future course of the BAA,” Starr said.  “The BAA remains committed to an open, transparent dialogue about constructive, mutually beneficial results for our members and the University.  We believe that such dialogue is the best course to pursue in determining the BAA’s future and its continued commitment to Baylor alumni.”


Jan 25 2014
Update from BAA Board of Directors Meeting

Update from BAA Board of Directors Meeting

The Baylor Alumni Association board of directors met on January 25 in Waco, and Alumni were invited to voice their opinions about the future of the organization. During the meeting, directors discussed current issues facing the association. Click here to view the correspondence shared with the directors as reference materials for parts of the discussion. At the meeting, the board of directors unanimously approved the following recommendation from the  Executive Committee concerning the next steps for the BAA:

The appointment of a committee by the president to prepare proposed amendments to the constitution and bylaws to reflect the continued support of Baylor University through the publication of the Baylor Line, existing endowment funds, any other endowment funds that may be created by the Baylor Alumni Association in the future and other such support as the committee may deem appropriate.

Thank you again for your continued support. Please click  here to review the statement issued after the meeting.

George Cowden III

2013-14 President

Board of Directors

Baylor Alumni Association


Recognized as the official alumni organization of Baylor University, the Baylor Alumni Association is an independent legal entity, separate and apart from Baylor University.
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